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   4 min read

How To Create A Successful Site Plan

Imagine building a new house without knowing how many rooms would be designed, or what kind of rooms. To you and the contractor it will be a nightmare! There will be endless hours and lost resources, extra costs on change orders and rush fees, not to mention schedule delays on any project oversights. The same goes for building a new website … it needs a master plan.

The sitemap describes the layout of a website, or information architecture, and is a significant strategic phase in the process of creating a new website or redesigning an old one. The following measures are key to an effective plan for the site.

Identify Your Goals

Your website should have a clear purpose as it does all about your business. Your website should have a clear purpose as it does all about your business. Start by answering the following questions and setting targets for your new site before jumping the gun.

What are the key goals for the Website?
Who is your website for and what prompted you to visit them?
What do you want users to do on first, second and beyond visits?
What’s the most important thing you’re trying to get your audience across?
What kind of experience would you like to get tourists when they visit your site?

  • What are the key goals for the Website?
  • Who is your website for and what prompted you to visit them?
  • What do you want users to do on first, second and beyond visits?
  • What’s the most important thing you’re trying to get your audience across?
  • What kind of experience would you like to get tourists when they visit your site?

These are just a few potential questions that should be answered at the outset of the project and the responses verified by all the main stakeholders. I emphasise the word “beginning” because making drastic changes to the basics after production has begun would most likely cause major headaches such as, rework, added costs and delayed launch.

Let’s go back to the new example of designing a home, it would be like deciding to move the kitchen after the plumbing and foundation have been laid.

Website Analysis

Current Company Site

If you already have a website at your business, take some time to review and examine all sites. Check the metrics of your website to see which pages work well and which ones do not. If any pages are marked as no longer important or unnecessary, the decision to remove or upgrade can be made. If a page is deleted, a 301 redirect from the old URL to a new page that has similar details or answers a similar query is necessary to apply.

Competitor Sites

If a new website is being created or a current website is being updated, it is a good idea to check the websites of the competitors. In doing so, you can keep up with trends in the industry, learn from their mistakes and even get some insight into where your content is missing.

There could be a page or two all of your rivals had on their pages, but yours was lacking. If that page is applicable to your business and is considered significant, or if a decision is prototypical for your industry and significant to a customer, you may want to have a version on your new website. Similarly, you can see some stuff being done that build a poor UX you’re going to want to steer clear of.

Site Structure

Now that goals have been set and a thorough analysis has been done, it’s time to start thinking about how to organise all of the pages on your new site. This isn’t as easy as grouping pages together … you need to understand how a typical user navigates the web. Creating a customer flow diagram is a genuinely good exercise that can offer more visual perspectives.

The layout of the site will assist tourists in achieving the set goals, as well as make it easy for a visitor to find what they are searching for. Site structure also affects SEO … the easier it is for crawlers to navigate and index page content the better the site structure.

Keeping in mind goals, visitors and search engines, pages can now be organized in a hierarchical fashion to identify the main navigation, secondary pages and tertiary pages.

Site Planning

Although the layout of the site is a major part of the design for the site, the strategy / design does not end there. This would be the equivalent of giving the contractor a list of rooms without a blueprint … a well-thought-out and planned list, but still a list.

A site plan takes the site map from list to unified centre of the project. This document can be referenced for the entire website project, so it should contain other relevant details such as:

  • Functionality requirements
  • Custom layouts
  • Content to include
  • Calls to Action
  • Footer links
  • Additional information, i.e. links, plugins, etc.

If you want to geek out even more over the new site plan (like we do), you can capture other project details including, but not limited to:

  • Links to content that will need to be integrated – on new documents or current web pages
  • Links to old and new pages – this can help in determining which URLs will be kept and which need a 301 redirect to preserve any SEO love garnered over the years
  • Notes, comments or instructions
  • Page status

The site plan can be used by leadership, project managers, designers, developers and content strategists and will act as a live document that gets updated throughout your project.

Have more questions?

If you are considering building a new website or simply refreshing your current one, Yello can help. Contact us and get the conversation started!

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