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January 2, 2024

Successful Website Planning: Sitemapping

By Rob Donaldson 2 Minute Read

The time has come. You need a new website. You’ve assembled your team to help build out the project. You’ve scoured the web for inspiration. There’s branding, imagery, copy, videos, and so much more to consider but where do you start? When building a house you start with a blueprint. When building a website you start with a sitemap, the blueprint of your website. 

What is a Sitemap and What Does it Look Like?

Sitemaps take the form of a flowchart with the main navigation at the top and the sub-navigation and additional navigation stacked below. They could include any or all of the following:

  • Homepage – Usually shown at the top of a sitemap
  • Primary Navigation – This would be the main navigation of your website
  • Secondary Navigation – These are often dropdowns from the main navigation
  • Tertiary Pages – These are pages that you don’t often see in the site’s navigation (for example, product pages on ecommerce sites)
  • Special Buttons/CTAs (call to action) – Sometimes, there are direct links to “book a demo”, “buy now” or “contact us” in the menu.
  • Header/Footer Navigation - There could be additional layers of navigation at the very top of the page or at the footer. The footer navigation often repeats the main navigation but may also have contact information and items such as links to social media.

Who Benefits from a Sitemap?

Sitemaps help designers, developers and SEO specialists plan and implement the building blocks of the site while ensuring that the site remains easy to navigate for the end users. They also help clients and stakeholders get a clear picture of how the site will present the information and what assets will be needed to build the site.

What are the Advantages of Site Mapping before your Next Website Project?

Visual Roadmap for Website Structure: Imagine a sitemap as a bird's-eye view or a blueprint of your website. It shows how different pages connect and relate to each other. This visual representation helps you understand the site's structure and organization at a glance.

Enhanced User Experience (UX): When you organize your website through a sitemap, you're essentially setting up a clear pathway for your visitors. It's like designing a well-structured road network that guides users to their desired information easily. This organized layout enhances user satisfaction and reduces frustration while navigating your site.

Strategic Content Planning: Your sitemap helps in planning what content your website needs. It allows you to see the bigger picture, identifying gaps in content or areas that need improvement. You can plan which pages are essential, what new content is required, and what existing content needs updates or removal.

Adaptability and Scalability: Websites evolve over time. A sitemap isn't a static plan; it's a flexible tool that can be updated and modified as the website grows or changes. It allows for easy additions, modifications, or restructuring without disrupting the overall site architecture.

While you can probably create a visual sitemap using Google Docs or PowerPoint but there are specific programs built for site mapping that can help create interactive sitemaps quickly. Their interactive tools allow you to drag and drop shapes and text to easily create sitemaps that can be shared with and edited by the team. Some of the most popular sitemap programs include the totally free GlooMaps, along with SlickPlan, and FlowMapp. Both SlickPlan and FlowMapp have free plans as well. They each have their own pros and cons so try setting up a free account to give them a test drive.

By using a sitemap, you're creating a solid foundation for your website. It's like having a roadmap that not only helps in the initial planning and development but also serves as a reference point for future improvements and expansions. If you have any questions about sitemaps or how to start your next web project, reach out, we’ll be happy to help. 


Rob Donaldson
About the Author
Rob has been a part of the multimedia industry for over 30 years and is now the Director of Operations at Vendilli. You’ll find him shuttling his kids to and from sports and activities or somewhere in the outdoors skiing or mountain biking (if he’s lucky)…

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