Lesson 1: Creating a Sitemap
Think of your sitemap like the base for your entire site. For our purposes, it can literally be a list of what pages you're going to have on your website and how each one will link to the others.
First, we suggest you download the resource to help you with Lesson 1. Give yourself about 30 minutes to consider what pages are the most crucial to have on your website. So, grab yourself a pen and paper, and let's get to work!
In this lesson we will:
Step 1: Decide what pages are necessary for your website
The first step in figuring out your website is deciding what pages you need. Before you do that though, let's think about what's going to be on your website. Consider what you want to tell visitors who come to your website and how. Make a list of all the things your website is going to need. Don’t forget to download the “content preparation” resource and use that as your guide while you go through this lesson.
Your website might need:
an about section
lists of your services
a shop or place to take payment
newsletter sign up
Once you've got this list, look at what items need to be pages on their own, and what can be grouped together into one page. For instance, your homepage could include a newsletter sign up, about section and list of services, meaning they probably don't need their own page. Perhaps consider putting a contact form on its own page, although it could also go on your homepage and on its own page.
Once you know for sure what pages you HAVE to have on your website, make a final list of them.
Step 2: Consider the content that needs to be on each page
Now that you've got your list of pages, you'll know what kind of content you will need for your site. Start by creating separate lists for each page. On that list, write down the items each page needs to include.
For example, on a contact page, you would list out the features, content, or images that will be needed to make that page functional.
Some things that can go on a contact page are:
A contact form for your visitors to fill in
a visible address or map of your location
your email address
a phone number
a photo of you or your team
an additional newsletter sign up form
or even links to your social platforms
A call to action statement (like, "Get in touch!" or "Say hi!")
Each page should have its own separate list of features and content so that you know what to create and prepare for. (Which is coming next!)
Step 3: Look at how those pages will link to each other
A crucial thing to remember is that no page on your website should be a dead end. Every single page should take a visitor onwards, so consider how each page will connect to another. You wouldn’t want your visitors to get to the end of your site and think you’ve got nothing else to offer and leave your site without having engaged with your business in any way.
Consider linking them out from the homepage or perhaps some of them can be accessed through your site main menu. Either way, ensure that whatever page a visitor is on, other pages of your site are always accessible. For instance, perhaps your homepage can have a button to link to a portfolio page or shop, and that page will have a button that links to a contact page and the contact page. The point is, you want your visitors to engage with your website.
Step 4: Write out the sitemap using our handy resource
At this point, your lists might be feeling a little messy, but that's why we've created the resource! If you haven’t been using it yet, download it and help it keep you organized filling in the different sections.
Sidenote: A proper sitemap will be created by Squarespace once you start adding pages to the website (next module!). Learn more about that here.
Great job! We hope you’ve gotten a better understanding of how important sitemaps are. Next we’re going to take what we’ve created here and put pencil to paper and sketch out some website frames!