How to organize your website:
Creating User-Friendly Navigation for Your Company’s Home Online
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While every website project is unique, I have managed enough web redesigns to recognize a pattern of best practices in what to include and how to arrange your content for successful user interactions and less customer service headaches.
Your website can, and should, have its own unique look and feel. Great design will project your personality, showcase your creativity and provide a polish and consistency that encourages trust in your brand.
Great UX (user experience) design will ensure the organization of the content on your site promotes ease of use.
From what I’ve guided and witnessed in web designs I’ve managed, there is usually some discomfort to get to the point of great UX.
let’s talk Site navigation
Establishing your site navigation (what’s in your site, what is it called and where does it belong?) is a crucial step to not just survive but thrive in your website design process.
Mapping out this menu of options and determining what steps a user takes to get the valuable information they need can be a daunting task. That’s why I want to walk you through my process in determining what information is essential to include in a company’s site navigation, and how to avoid the pitfalls I see small organizations make in their first site map drafts.
(Wireframing what content lives on the pages you intend to build can be an unnerving step, too – but more on that later!)
Building your Site Map
Whether you are just launching your first website or redesigning from an existing site, the first step to building your map is to consider what you want someone to know and do when visiting your site.
Make a list of the things you want to be clear upon visiting. Typically a client will come up with a list that covers these areas of information:
- About the Company
- About the Founder/Owner/Director
- About your Team/Collaborators
- About your Services/Offerings/Products/Work
- About your Events
But don’t forget to also include actions & measurable objectives in your list:
- How to Contact you/Inquire
- How to Follow you on Social Media
- How to Sign Up for your Email list
- How to Engage with your Ideas/Work Samples
And reactions or responses once someone takes action:
- Thank you for Contacting us
- Thank you for Signing up for Email, etc.
The first step to building your site map is to consider what you want someone to know and do when visiting your site.
Your list will grow from here, depending on the type of organization you run.
For example, a nonprofit will want a section that teaches a user how to Give or Support their company. A creative selling products will want to include an area to Shop. A performing artist or visitor service organization may need a place where a user can learn how to Buy a Ticket. A small design shop may want to include a Portfolio.
You can see how this list of what you want your user to know and do can swiftly expand. And how it must grow from your own knowledge of your own company. There’s no one-size-fits-all site map templates.
Finally, you need to streamline and prioritize what you include in your main menu. If you provide a web visitor with too many options, chances are that visitor will not choose any and simply bounce. Prioritize the actions and measurable objectives, even though it feels more important to prioritize the “about” information.
I recently project managed a web redesign by Base for Wellesley Career Education. Wellesley’s main objective is for students to take advantage of the multitude of resources they’ve published that relate to their specific needs during their college careers. The entire conceptual design of the site is geared towards leading users to resources filtered for their exact situation.
Remember, your website is not just a pretty digital home base – it’s meant to work for you and help you reach your marketing goals!
I strategize, consult and manage digital marketing and communications for small businesses, creatives, artists and nonprofit organizations. I’m based in Brooklyn, because I have a thing for exposed brick, cozy, local coffee shops and the can’t stop, won’t stop energy of New York.
Because I work with small companies, I get the chance to really know my clients – what makes them tick and how and why they should stand out in a crowded marketplace. A lot of my clients have a smaller staff, a limited budget and are already stretched thin for time. This leads us to tailor marketing strategies and solutions to each company’s unique needs and actual capacity.