How to set up your website structure

Set up your website structure

If you want to create a website, you have to know something about how to set up your website structure (also know as wireframe).

 

It gives you a good starting point and helps you create a great user experience.

In this blog you can read about why a great website structure is so important. And how you can easily set up your website structure by following a few simple steps.

Why is site structure so important?

Before I show you how to set up your website structure, you first need to know why it is so important to do it right. Having your own website means that you want share something with your visitors. This could be information, entertainment, something to sell or… Anyway, you want people to visit your site and preferably stay and browse a little (or a lot). That is why having a great User Experience of your site is very important. It gives your audience guidance and direction. Because if they can easily find the information that they want, they will probably stick around much longer. A site structure is the foundation of creating a great User Experience. Additionally, it will help you rank better in Google. Because, without going into the technical details, Google also appreciates good site structure.

How to set up your website structure:
Start with the purpose

First you need to know what content you want to have on your site. And this starts with the purpose. Think about the purpose of this website (what is it I want my visitors to ‘do’ when they visit my site?) and what you need to fulfil this purpose. Write down all the topics that you wish to communicate. Then, try to divide these into categories, like chapters of a book. These chapters can form the menu (or submenu’s).

For example, if you are a photographer and want to have website to promote yourself and your services: You want to tell something about who you are and how you work, you want to show your portfolio (maybe split up into topics like weddings, family, animals etc.), you have some blogs and a contact page.

The categories (your menu) would look something like this: 

Of course you can name the menu items as you like, but think about your audience and what words/style make sense to them. 

Creating the pages

By creating the pages I actually mean the structure of pages. Meaning you can just grab a pen and paper and start drawing blocks, like placeholders: text blocks and image blocks. You can start with the homepage: what do you want your visitors to see on the first page? Think about a first time visitor who doesn’t know much about your brand or product. 

There should be a clear and logical order or appearance when they scroll down the page. Also think about what blocks could link to what page of your site (internal linking). You can do this for all the pages, each on a separate paper.

Structuring the pages

When you have drawn up all the pages, you can start shuffling them around and connecting them with each other. And again, here you have to really step into the heads of your target group and know how they would logically browse through your website. 

What I usually do is put down the papers (your pages) on the floor or hang them on the wall. Next I will grab some washi tape and start linking the pages and the blocks. Each time I will pretend to visit the website with a different purpose and walk through the pages again and again. These are called customer journeys. 

I repeat this until I think I have found the most logical structure. I also imagine if someone comes to my website on a different page (via Google search for example) and what would be their journey then. 

Breadcrumbs

If visitors come in via a different route, and you have a complex site structure, it could be handy to have breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs give guidance and an overview of where you are on the site, like a map. That way the visitor will know where in the navigation they are and how to return.

Set up your website structure

Test and adapt your website structure

Now that you have your site structure ready, you can actually start building/adjusting/let someone else build your site. Of course this takes much more than just having the structure in place, but that’s for another blog. Anyway, once your site is up and running, it is important to test your site structure.

How to test your website structure

You can test your site with Google Analytics (view what pages people are visiting, how long they are staying, what they click on etc.).

But you can also do this by just letting people you know (preferably who are in your target group) visit the website and have them navigate through it. Don’t forget to test it on laptop, tablet and mobile phone! Ask them for honest feedback, and start improving from there.

Maybe some small adjustments are needed (the order of your menu or shifting some images around), or maybe bigger changes are needed. In any case, your site structure is a dynamic aspect and can be (should be) changes over time according to your audience behaviour. 

How to set up your website structure? Just get started!

So, that’s how to set up your website structure. When you get started you’ll see how easy it can be. And if you need any help, you can always send me a chat or mail. If you want to know more about improving your online presence, go to my blog about online presence.