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Web 101: Understanding Site Maps

When I first started writing custom content for websites 20+ years ago, I was just doing that...writing. Those of us who weren’t actual webmasters usually weren’t called upon to map out a site’s sections. We were given what we thought of as an outline.

For example, in my main work in supplying health information, let’s say I was being told to explain osteoporosis (the age-related bone loss). My client would send an email with info like, “We need 800 words and you have to include an Overview, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment.”

And that would be it.

I didn’t know that could be defined as the site map. That’s because essentially a site map is really a content outline. Here’s a look at a very basic site map with just a few of the links and sublinks that osteoporosis site would need. The main tabs are in blue, then in yellow there are sample sublinks:

As I say, that’s very basic. It’s not even the full map, but I’m sure you get the idea. If you haven’t seen my story on infographics you should take a look. That’s ‘cause the companies I noted for their great templates--including Canva and Piktochart--offer tons of free site mapping options. I will tell you that (IMHO) a lot of times I can’t find something as basic as the one here and that’s all that many need. But what you’ll see via those other outlets can still be inspiring.

What do my targets need to know?

If the idea of site mapping seems frightening, there’s an easy way to ease your fears. Think of it as what I said earlier: outlining. In basic site mapping that’s really all it is. And when you’re working on the kind of websites that many 1- or 2-person businesses need, it really stays simple.

In fact, here’s a present. These are the tabs I’d figure for any basic business site map:

  • Welcome

  • Who We Are (or About Us)