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The Beginner’s Guide to Website Organization

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Dark wooden card catalog with brass pulls

Organizing the many pages on your website doesn’t have to be like organizing your sock drawer (where do they all disappear to?!). All you need to know are the basics of website content structure and a quick, step-by-step guide to creating a sitemap that works for you and your audience.

Why Website Structure Matters

First and foremost, website structure helps your audience find what they’re looking for, fast. Every click through your website is worth its weight in gold. So, trust us when we say that you need to make those clicks matter. A solid and informative structure can help you deliver the most value to your audience in the fewest clicks possible.

Google also depends on your website’s internal structure to learn more about your content. When it comes to SEO, search crawlers must look at a website’s link structure to index it. A website that isn’t properly indexed is invisible online.

Your Step-By-Step Guide to Organizing Your Website

Wouldn’t it be nice to have woodland creatures listening for your whistle, ready to assist you in your organization efforts? While we’re all out of cute squirrels and fuzzy bunnies, we do know some simple steps you can take to get your website in order.

1. List Those Website Pages

Before you do anything else, take some time to list every possible page you think your website should have. Regardless of the business you’re in, include these must-haves:

  • Home
  • About
  • Biography
  • Services
  • Contact

Beyond these, other pages may be necessary to provide potential customers with the information they need to feel comfortable in reaching out to you. For professional service providers like attorneys, accountants, consultants and more, pages for each service provided are must-haves. A Testimonials page is a great addition, as is an FAQ page or Resources page.

Remember, you can add new pages to your website over time. For now, focus on what you think is most important to get your website off the ground.

2. Create Your Top-Level Navigation

Your top-level navigation is the menu your visitors see front-and-center on your website. Check out this screenshot of our top-level navigation:

The must-have pages we mentioned above (Home, About, Biography, Services, Contact) are all great options for top-level pages. Yet, yours might look a bit different, depending on your business. Take a look at Apple’s top-level navigation:

Apple created top-level navigation using their products specifically. The key is to create a top-level navigation that is a high-level overview of everything on your website.

But Wait…How Do I Choose My Top-Level Pages?

That’s a great question! The trick is to consider the importance of each page. For example, Apple’s website visitors are typically looking for support or for more information about one of their products. For this reason, these pages are listed in the top-level for easy access.

Consider which pages your customers will reach for first and place them in your top-level navigation. Most of the time, you’ll get the job done with the must-haves we listed above.

3. Add Your Sub-Pages

Once you have your top-level navigation created, you can start listing your sub-pages, or the pages located in a drop-down menu underneath your top-level pages. (These are also often called child pages.)

On our website, we’ve added sub-pages for specific services under our Services section. We’ve also added sub-pages for our team, values, policies and more under our About section. Remember: your sub-pages should support the top-level page.

What NOT to Do When Organizing Your Website

Organizing your website properly is one of the most important parts of creating a visitor-friendly and accessible website. And now that you know what TO do, here’s what NOT to do.

  • Don’t clutter your navigation. You may think everything is deserving of your customer’s attention, but don’t clutter your navigation with every page you can think of. This makes finding anything on your website incredibly difficult and it causes your visitor to lose their patience.
  • Don’t add too much information into your drop-down menus. Your visitor shouldn’t have to scroll through a laundry-list of pages in a drop-down menu. Keep it simple and add the pages that matter most.
  • Don’t place your Contact page in the footer only. Please, please, please don’t do this. This is one of the most important pages on your website. Put it in your top-level navigation for easy access. If you want to also have it in your footer, then go for it!
  • Don’t sacrifice usability when creating your design. We get it. Good design matters. But so does usability. Remember that an easy-to-use website is a successful one. Organize your website with the user—your ideal audience—in mind.

Still Feel Like You’re Missing Something?

Do you still feel like your website’s structure is missing something? Are you overwhelmed by the idea of creating your own sitemap to fit your audience’s needs? We can help! Go ahead and send us a message today. We’re here for you!

Erin Larson