If you’re new to the world of websites, you might be wondering “what in the heck is a site map?” Rest assured: I’m here today to give you the low-down on site maps and the must-dos when it comes to your site’s navigation.

Let’s dive right in!

What’s a site map?

At its very basic level, a site map is simply a list of the pages on your website. Easy enough, right?

Whether you’re building a website yourself or working with a developer, you’ll need to have a good idea of what pages your site should include before kicking off your project. This will ultimately guide your site’s navigation and will also help you know what content you’ll need to create.

When you’re working with a very basic, mostly informational site, sometimes it’s plenty good enough to work with a simple bulleted list of the pages you’ll want to include on your site. I’m not in the business of overcomplicating things, so if your site needs five pages, you certainly don’t need to go crazy with anything fancy or formal–a simple bulleted list in a Word doc will totally serve you well.

When you start getting into more extensive content where you might, say, have parent pages each with a few submenu items, that’s when having a more visual reference (like a flow chart) can be handy.

What pages does your website need?

Now, you might be wondering, “how on earth do I know what pages my site needs?” That’s a great question!

Aside from anything specific to your business that you might want to include, here are the basic pages I recommend every site should have as a starting point:

Homepage – Many times, this is going to be the first thing someone to your site will see, so it’s your chance to make a great first impression. You’ll want your homepage to show off some of your benefits, you’ll want it to help establish your credibility, it will need to show users how to navigate around your site, and you’ll want to showcase your opt-in.

About Page – Here’s where you really get to talk all about you (or your business!). Your about page gives you the chance to show prospects who you truly are, to let them know your unique mission, and to let your personality shine through.

Services or Products Page – This is where you’ll give prospective customers the low-down on how you can help solve their problems.

Contact Page – This is where you’re going to make it easy-peasy for someone to get in touch with you. If you’re putting your phone number out there, you’ll want to make it readily available on this page. If you have a contact form, you’re going to want to keep it simple: don’t ask for more information than you really need.

Privacy Policy – This page will be required if you collect, manage, or process any sort of user data. Your privacy policy is basically telling your users how you plan to use their information. Here’s a great resource I use to create my own privacy policy: http://iubenda.refr.cc/RBLNHB7* (affiliate link)

Terms of Use – This isn’t necessarily required for every site, but I think it’s still a nice little CYA (cover your..*ahemm* butt). It’s a page that sets up rules and regulations for visitors of your site, and it protects your biz by limiting the liability if a customer were to take you to court. There’s lots of templates available online that can easily be customized for your business, but if you want to get super legit with it, you should always have an attorney look it over.

What makes a good navigation?

Once you’ve got your site map all figured out, you might be wondering how that translates into your site’s navigation.

We’ve all probably been to a website where it seemed impossibly difficult to find what we’re looking for: there’s either a massive navigation system that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, or there’s not enough navigation to get you where you want to go. That’s where creating an efficient, easy navigation system comes into play.

Here are a few tips I like to keep in mind when I’m setting up a site’s navigation.

A good navigation…

  • has links to the site’s most important pages on every single page.
  • should be clear and easy to read, with a consistent design from page to page.
  • should typically be just one level for basic informational sites, and no more than two levels if your site is a little more complex.

Hopefully this helps as you set out to craft a great site map and navigation for your website. Have any questions or want to brainstorm your website together? Send me a message here—I’d love to chat with you!