Friday, February 15, 2008

How to Organize your Website

by Pat L

Organize your website to help both you and your visitor

Your website needs to be organized so you can add content easily and your visitors can spend time absorbing your content rather than trying to figure out the navigation system. Planning and organizing your site in the beginning phases makes the update process easier down the road because you won't have to do as much work when it comes to page linking. The file structure needs to make sense to you since you are most likely going to be the person dealing with adding, subtracting and updating pages.

Steps to organizing your website

There are 3 key areas to address when organizing your website. Your first area of concern is how to set up your file structure. This pertains to the main folder, directories and sub directories. It is commonly known throughout the web that a page should be no more than 3 clicks from each other. The second area is your content. Organize your content in a way that lends itself to be user friendly. The last area of organization is the overall layout of the site. Make sure the layout compliments the content. Another point to make is consistency. The layout and theme should be the same throughout the site. Do not have your index page set up in one format and then change the sub pages format so the visitor needs to waste time figuring out where the navigation bar is again or scrolling all over to get to the content they are looking for.

Website structure

There are a few ways to set up a site structure. Making a sketch of how you are going to do it is advisable. The first place you want to start with is the parent page. This "home" page has a link to every page on the next level down. This second level will contain the categories for your site. A link to these second tier pages will be on every page of your site. Each page that is accessed from a page above it is considered a child. The other way to word this is defining directories and sub directories. Your main directory could contain sub directories named contact, main, about us and links. Inside the main directory you could have sub directories of products. Your second tier topics should be titled to the cover content specific to that section. These sub sections are where you will put your content and should be easily navigated to.

Website content

The content of your site is there to convey a message. It should tell a visitor what the site is about, who the information is for and what is offered. This content can be delivered in many ways. Displaying text and images are your primary methods along with video and audio to help support your delivery. The content you include should provide a visitor with valuable information and sustenance. Your primary goal should be to create a positive impression in as little time as possible. This method will help retain a person that has come to your site instead of clicking to somewhere else. Be sure your information is relevant, concise and clear. It should contain your keywords and help direct a visitor to continue browsing your site. When creating your content, get right to the point in sending your message. Don't beat around the bush with flashy welcome screens or material that is unrelated to what your site is about. Potential visitors want their information quickly or they will go to the next site on the search engine list. Direct your visitor's eyes to specific areas with the placement and layout of your content. Using bold section descriptions and breaking content into chunks will help get your visitor to what they are looking for in a timely fashion.

Website layout

People are going to be judging both your content and layout when they visit your site. An appealing layout will help keep your visitor and can aid in getting them to come back. Your original layout will continually change as you adapt to the preferences of the people who visit your site. When laying out the site, try to keep it as simple as possible. Creating a user friendly navigation system to smoothly move throughout your site should also be considered when developing your layout. During the layout process you are going to determine how to present your content in an optimized and balanced format. It is suggested that you use a pencil and some paper when creating your layout concepts. Make more than one and look for strong and weak points in each sketch. After noting the best qualities from each, incorporate them into a finalized layout. Be sure to take into consideration that this layout will be used throughout your entire site.

About the Author

Pat L. started out creating a few niche sites and during that process gained huge amounts of knowledge in the website development process. You can visit for more information about developing and creating a website.