Professional approach to designing a visual sitemap
Sitemap as a first step to creating any web-project
Visual sitemap is a skeleton of a future website with precisely structured information about the website. Usually, it contains information about the structure of pages, tasks for developers as well as the project’s content.
A map is essential for cost and man-hour planning as well as for correct page linking and accounting for user experience.
Creation of a sitemap is a growing trend and an essential step in creating a quality website.
Why does a sitemap directly influences the success of a project?
There are several reasons why one can not launch a successful website without a sitemap:
- A sitemap gives you an understanding of website navigation;
- Using a sitemap, one can easily calculate the amount of content needed;
- An interactive sitemap gives an understanding of work scope;
- Without a sitemap, one can not be sure that everything is taken into consideration and prepared.
As you can see, many questions are cleared at the stage of sitemap creation.
When do you need to create a sitemap?
So, you have discussed a project, signed an agreement and are ready to start working on a website. At what stage do you need a sitemap?
Usually, you start developing the sitemap when you are quite familiar with the project, have analyzed tasks and created main website user threads.
A sitemap has to consider everything you know about users, their targets when browsing the website, what content of the website is the most attractive for them and what way is the most common way they consume content.
4 ways of building a sitemap.
In order to create a visual reference for a website one can just simply put all ideas on paper. It is the first and most simple way (and preferred by many designers). You just draw blocks and figures in free form, registering where and what content it has to contain. But it might not be very productive, taking into consideration all possible amendments.
We live in a world of cloud technology meaning that we can use more advanced and comfortable tools. For example, one can use Sketch or any other graphics editor.
This option gives a pretty outcome but does not always help to outwork. Problems may occur if one needs to make changes while in a meeting with a customer or when needing to add new elements to a map. Another option is a sitemap in the form of a mindmap.
It is closer to the truth, but not all details will be taken into a consideration and the overall structure of a website may look very intricate because all mindmap creation services are not designed for detailed website development. You will only have a scheme, without many options for making comments, explanations, highlighting and analyzing.
The last option is using a special sitemap creation service, such as FlowMapp. It is an ideal solution, and it is ideal because it takes into consideration the needs of a larger part of UX-professionals: UX-designers, design engineers, content-strategists as well as SEO-specialists. It has a user-friendly interface and one can comment, share, store and arrange information without losing any time.
What does a sitemap have to contain?
In order to understand the complexity of a website one needs a page structure. Precise project index, general ecosystem. The sitemap is aimed at showing links between pages, foreseeing user behavior, that is why the structure is the most important element in creating a sitemap.
Besides that, one needs clear names and descriptions for each page. What does it have to contain, in what volume and what is this page needed for. What text will complete the design, what pages shall be at the forefront of SEO. In other words, we need to involve all details of navigation with explanations and comments in the sitemap.
What does sitemap of a website have to look like?
A correct sitemap reflects the scope of work and chains of inter-linkages. Starting with the main one you move on to internal pages, deepening into sections and subsections. The hierarchic structure depends on the project but there are several prerequisites:
- It should be clear on the sitemap what each page is related to. This can be achieved by using connection lines (linkages) and vertical sequences of blocks (pages). In specialized services it is done automatically when creating a new page.
- In order not to get confused by so much information always start with main pages: «About», «Services», «FAQ», «Contacts». After main pages are completed move on to secondary ones: «Product cards», «Blog articles» etc.
- Always write particular qualities of content in detail.
A sitemap gives a primary vision of what you are going to do along with first steps in creation of a structure and navigation. You can refer to the sitemap in content strategies and functional specifications, it is also a great way to show your clients what you are going to create for them.