Choosing the Key Ingredients for the Perfect Sitemap

Putting together a sitemap is akin to cooking up a perfect dish. We mentioned sometime back how a sitemap is more to do with the thinking behind a website, whereas a wireframe and mockup is all about “dressing up” your site in frills and lace. But this does not mean that drawing up a sitemap should be a boring affair with a minimum level of effort being put in. To be honest, there are some best practices that you should adhere to when drawing any sitemap. Check them out below.

1. Brainstorm on Paper

Yeah, we know, paper is such an old-fashioned concept. You can just see how old-fashioned books are since they are being replaced by the whole “Amazon ebooks & Kindle” factor. But we still do have a penchant for pen and paper, especially when it comes to noting down that quick-as-a-flash idea that usually crops out of nowhere. Want to do up a sitemap? Doodle it out. If paper won’t work, try mindmapping software or anything else that you fancy. Ask yourself – What’s my product (or service)? What are the basic pages I need? How can I stand out? Do I need Flash? Do I want my site to be content rich? What about video clips? Keep at it, until you get a clear picture of what your basic sitemap should  look like.

Image reference: http://taniamilinkovich.blogspot.com/2008_06_01_archive.html

2. Know thy Shapes

Lucky for you, we’ve got an excellent repository of information on sitemaps that will rid you of any doubts. We do urge you to read through this page at your earliest. When drawing any type of a diagram you do need to ensure that you know what all the basic shapes stand for. To make it simple for you, we’ve illustrated the three basic shapes associated with sitemaps below. A page is basically used to represent general content, like About Us, Contact Us and Products etc. The Future Page represents a page that you would draw in the future. Finally, a Page Cluster shows you a number of pages of the same kind. We’ve just shown you 3 shapes here, find out about the remaining 4 here.

3. Even Spacing

Spacing could be regarded as being part and parcel of diagramming aesthetics. With sitemaps it really is no different. You could probably place spacing under the wider banner of “Attention-to-detail”, which is certainly an important part of diagramming as a whole. Sure, you may have your own idea on how you want to have your spacing sorted out. What we recommend is that you do not crowd your sitemap or vice versa. Ensure it is pleasing to the eye and devoid of clutter.

4. Color `em up

Color is mandatory for beautiful diagrams. What’s more, choosing the right colors for your website could very well lead to an increase or decrease in customers. But when it comes to using colors in a sitemap, the reasons may be quite different. You can use colors for basically anything. One example of using colors would be to indicate the various stages of completeness.

5. Link it through to Wireframes

Finally, having a sitemap on one side and a wireframe on the other would give you an excellent perspective on what the end result would look like. The conventional way of doing things is to do up a sitemap then move onto a wireframe and a mockup. Having two different interpretations of the same piece of information would help you ascertain whether you are on the right track. Other benefits would be saving time, since you can finish off discussing the Homepage and its design before moving onto subsequent pages.

There you have it. Just 5 basic factors you can consider when it comes to getting your sitemap achieve that desired level of perfection. Got any queries, suggestions or comments? Do get in touch with us, we’re more than happy to help you out.

Author

rohitha

Rohitha Perera is a Community Evangelist at Creately.com, a collaborative diagramming software for teams. When he’s not working on marketing strategies for web start-ups, he spends time reading, watching movies, jogging, gardening and cooking. You can follow him on Twitter:@creately @ForzaRP

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