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Draw a site map ]

By site map I mean a graphical representation of the way you expect the site to be organized in terms of navigation. This is the time that some basic decisions must be made regarding the predominant level of organization. Essentially you have to decide how the information will be best organized from the visitor's perspective. The site map will therefore act as a refinement of the rationale in focussing the goals of the web site.

All of the elements of a robust web site can exist under different types of organizational models, with appropriate links between all relevant documents, but the navigation of these links can be greatly aided by the appropriate choice of a model. Suitability of the model has to be gauged against the intent of the web site

This is probably most easily illustrated with some examples related to the Dave's Rose Emporium Case Study which was introduced above.

Case Study Continued - Dave's Site Map

Dave has some basic choices to make, with the emphasis of the pages based on either:

  1. Special time times of the year with products, services and expertise as subsets;
  2. Products and services with seasonal considerations and expertise associated;
  3. Subject expertise with a tie in to products, services, and possible seasonal considerations.

If Dave were trying to develop an online community and generate revenues based on advertising and referrals to online sellers I would recommend option 3, as this model is most likely to bring repeat visitors and facilitates a community based exchange of ideas. The first two options, however, are more representative of the type of business Dave is in: supporting the sales of products and services in his neighbourhood or city.

Option 1 has the advantage of presenting timely information immediately, and supports quick decisions on products. The disadvantage lies in reduced access to information about services, and in the fact that the main pages will need to be updated frequently to reflect seasonal changes.

Option 2 has the advantage of more readily showcasing services, but has the disadvantage of assuming the user knows what type of service or product they're looking for.

Dave decides that he would rather concentrate on his craft than on updating seasonal changes to his pages. After all, he is not putting up a web page to allow people to order a half-dozen roses at bargain basement prices, those types of buyers tend to just show up at the store. Rather, Dave wants to showcase his premium services such as wedding arrangements and bridal bouquets, and special party services. Certainly he will list all of the basic in-store products too, and he can list specials and holiday items, but he won't organize the web site around these.

Here's what Dave's Site Map might look like (although the original was probably scribbled on the back of a napkin during a trip out for coffee late last night):

Figure 1. Dave's Roses - proposed site map

Next: Generating Content

 

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