Have you ever been to a website looking for a simple thing like the phone number or address of a store and fallen down a rabbit hole of menus and 45 clicks later you just throw in the towel and leave? Sometimes, I think disorganized websites must be a reflection of the chaos happening at a company level. That being said, potential customers probably thing the same thing!
I don’t know about you but for me, after realizing I just spent 15 minutes reading about medical-ish services have no intention of getting at the new day-spa down the block, I get frustrated. Websites that have poorly designed sitemaps can easily send the wrong message and waste time.
Sitemaps Defined: The Geeky Explanation
A sitemap is simply a list of pages on your website, the roadmap for the website if you will. To really get the gist of things, you should know that there are two basic forms of sitemaps:
- Most websites have what’s called an “Information Architecture” sitemap. It will give you the name of each page but it will not necessarily tell you the link or button name that is used to get there once the site is fully built. On an Information architecture sitemap, frequently you will see a page that says “About” but, by the time the website is published, it will say something like “Our Story” or “About Us”, perhaps even “Learn More About Our Company” or a wide variety of other things.
- Many websites also have what is called an XML sitemap. This sitemap is intended to be read by the search engines and looks like a list of links on a white page or a bunch of coding gobbled-gook if you view it online.
Why Are Sitemaps So Important?
A sitemap is important because it’s an organizational tool. You want people to be able to find what they want quickly.
What are the basic pages of a sitemap?
Almost all websites contain the following foundational pages addressing specific information that explains: who are you? What’s for sale? How do I get it?
- About Us
Simple site maps (the plan for your site structure, are fairly easy. Many sites use exactly the same site maps. Complex sitemaps are much harder and there are a bunch of best practices for how to nest and organize information so that people can quickly find what they are looking for.