When you build a house or an office building, your first task is to hire an architect.  Can you imagine turning a group of building contractors loose on your vacant lot without providing them with a blueprint to follow?  In order to ensure that the home is built soundly, safely and correctly, you give builders a blueprint.  In the same way, you need a clearly developed website architecture if you intend to build a sound and successful website.

Website Architecture

Build First, Ask Questions Later

The “build first, ask questions later” paradigm is a death trap when it comes to creating a website that’s designed for success.  Instead of following this mistaken, hasty course of action, reverse it by asking questions first, building only later.

What questions should you be asking in order to develop the right site blueprint?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • What website topics are so important that they should be emphasized as part of your top-level navigation?  If you’re not sure, ask yourself what four or five things you want people to click on the most.
  • What topics can be subcategories of your main topics?  For example, if you sell online training courses and technical manuals, “Training Courses” and “Technical Manuals” could both be top-level navigation categories.  “Adobe Training,” “Microsoft Training” and “Quickbooks Training” could all be listed as subcategories of “Training Courses.”
  • Can you avoid third-level navigation?  If at all possible, keep all the pages in your website a maximum of two clicks away from the website user.

Site Architecture and Search Engine Optimization

When you’re designing the navigation elements for your website, you should also have search engine optimization (SEO) in the back of your mind.  Without prioritizing machines over human readers, think about the keywords people are most likely to search on to find your website.

You owe it to yourself to engage in careful keyword research.  Unfortunately, keyword research is outside of the scope of this current article.  For now, it suffices to say that phrases you use for site navigation should be the same phrases that are important keywords for your site.

Once You’ve Built It, Cut It

When you have created the perfect site architecture for your website, sleep on it for one night, then return to your plan the next day with a fat red pen.  Slash mercilessly at the architecture, trimming it down further and further until your website is Zen-like in its simplicity.

Remember, the simpler your site is to navigate, the happier your customers will be.  There’s nothing more frustrating than reaching the right website only to find that you’re unable to find the information that you’re looking for.  Don’t give your website visitors this experience.  Instead, keep eliminating navigation options, categories and subcategories until you can’t eliminate anything more.  When you absolutely cannot cut anything else out, then you know you’ve come upon the right architecture for your website.


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Author : Blue Cloud

Just a normal software developer who love to write code. Developing professional software since 1999. After working in the software industry for many years, I've started my own website to share knowledges and experiences.

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