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Structure

A clear, logical website structure aids navigation and orientation. The best way to define your website structure is to sketch out a diagram, drawing every level.

It's useful to sketch your website structure early on in a project before you start any design or content work. As well as defining the structure clearly, this step helps you understand the scope of your project. It gives you a sense of the amount of content involved and if there are any new sections to create. This can help you target resources and estimate costs.

Start at your homepage and work through the different levels of information. Be logical, group similar sections and consider how users will find information. Remember to structure your website based on the results of your audience research.

This sketch forms the basis of your structure and navigation.

Example sketch of a website structure

Don't stop at the second level of your site. Explore how you will group information right down to the lowest level, giving lower level navigation the same attention as the top level navigation. Academic departments, for example, may hold lots of information in lower levels, such as module information pages.

Users are just as likely to spend time on lower level pages as top level pages. Remember many users arrive at your website via search engines, which means they could arrive on a page at any level in your structure. You can't assume they will always start at your homepage.

This isn't a diagram of links (there will be many of those and it would be very hard to draw them all). The structure shows the major sections and pages.

Ensure the name of each section is clear and unambiguous so your audience can make straightforward choices.

A good structure and clearly labeled navigation signposts users. They won't feel lost and will be able to find their way around the website irrespective of the level they're currently browsing.

Strict hierarchy

SiteBuilder uses a model we call strict hierarchy.

The structure starts with the University home page at the top – then down a level for faculties, study, research, services and so on – moving ever lower down into individual department and service websites.

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