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Structure

A logical website structure helps navigation and orientation. To define your website structure, sketch a diagram and draw each level.

It's useful to sketch your site structure early in a project before you start any visual design work. As well as defining the structure clearly, this step helps you understand the scope of your project. It gives a sense of the amount of content involved and highlights new sections to create, which can help you plan resources and estimate costs.

Start at your homepage and work down through each level of information. Be logical, put similar sections together and consider how visitors will find information. Remember to structure your website based on the results of your audience research.

The 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. Academic departments, for example, may hold lots of information in lower levels, such as module information pages.

Visitors are as likely to spend time on lower-level pages as the top. Remember that many people arrive via search engines, which means they can land on a page at any level in the structure. You cannot assume that they always start at your home page.

Ensure the name of each section is clear, unambiguous and unique so that your audience can navigate and understand where they are.

A logical structure and clear navigation labels act as signposts. They help visitors 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. One level below are the faculties, study, research and services sections. Below those are the individual department and service websites.