4 Steps to Building an Effective Website – Step 2: Build Your Map


Once you have identified the business goals of your website, you will have a clear picture of how your website will need to work for you. Think of it this way, now you know where you are going next, but you still need the map on how to get there.

In terms of the web development and design process, this means developing the architecture and foundation. No matter the size of your company, you should work through this process.

Your next question is how do you get started?

Start with the Content

During step one you identified goals and asked yourself questions about your customers. Now identify the content that fulfills the goals you outlined. Begin by brain dumping everything you want to have on your website, such as:

  • Identifying information you know your customers will want to see quickly
  • Providing content for customer service or support
  • Information or clarification about company services or policies
  • Material to educate your audience
  • Content for building relationships
  • Items outlining benefits of your product or service

If you’re struggling with this process, you may want to find a bounce partner to help you work through it.

Try to identify each item you may need or want to add to your website from launch and up to 6 months after launch. It is not possible to think of every idea, we know that, but identifying as much as you can will help give you a more flexible structure.

Classify Information into Priority Levels
priority Once you have brain dumped all your ideas, try to begin grouping information into categories that fit together. This will help you start structuring elements to begin making your map. Once you have grouped your content together now you can create the visual version of a site map.

Creating the Visual map

There are different schools of thought here. Some people like a hierarchy chart and others like a nucleus with items extending from the center or home.

What we have found that the process that works best for us is identifying a section-by-section site map with words similar to a website footer. This way everyone is clear as to where all the content is located within the website. We also create a main or top-level site map to identify the sections we feel should be front and center for the web visitors. From here we start getting creative with the naming of the items.

Taking The Map A Step Further

When you are working through the ideas, it can be a great help to create a content description and goal document. This document will give you a way to focus on the purpose and goal behind what you write and the action you’re looking for from your visitor as they review the content on that page. Here is an example from one of our clients website from Friday’s Feature on Skin Center:

Page Title Page Purpose Inspired Action
Acne Treatments To explain the different acne treatment we provide Read more about type of treatment or Book a consultation
Botox & Fillers Explain the difference in Skin Center approach to Botox & Fillers Look at Before & After photos or Book a consultation

By creating this type of content document, you will make it easier to stay focused and clear about your goals for the website sections and the goals for your users.

This process is an important step in building an effective website. Without it many people find themselves frustrated with their new website within months, wanting to change navigation and structure because they did not think it all the way through before launch. Take the time to layout all of your content, ask yourself what the purpose of each page is, and most importantly, what action you want your customer to take when on each page, and your new website will be the tool you need it to be when you launch.

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