Plan Your Site Structure

Category

A well thought-out site structure is the foundation of your website's success. Before you start creating pages on your website, plan out its structure. 

Plan your hierarchy before you develop your website

Your website’s “hierarchy” is simply the way your information is organized. It should be something that is simple and makes sense.

Think about a filing cabinet. Paperwork is much easier to find when it is assigned a clearly labeled folder. The same rule applies to organizing the Web pages within a website. Humans prefer simple, logical organization, and so do search engines.

Your website’s hierarchy is the basis for your navigation and URL structure, so everything important begins here.

Here are some tips to help you plan your hierarchy:
  • Keep it simple and logical.
    Each main category should be unique and distinct. Each subcategory should somehow relate to the main category under which it is located.
  • Limit the number of main categories to seven.
    Too many categories equals clutter and confusion.
  • It doesn’t have to be fancy.
    It’s perfectly acceptable to sketch out your website hierarchy by hand on a piece of paper—or even a napkin, for that matter.

Here is an example of a website hierarchy:
site hierarchy sketch

Create a Menu structure that follows your navigation hierarchy

Sample Menu Templates

Create a URL structure that follows your navigation hierarchy

The second main element in developing strong site structure is your URL structure. If you’ve logically thought through your hierarchy, this shouldn’t be too difficult.

Your URL structure will be organized according to your site hierarchy.

If we use the website hierarchy above, the URL structure would be:

  • Mywebsite.gatech.edu/add-edit-content
  • Mywebsite.gatech.edu/add-edit-content/pages
  • Mywebsite.gatech.edu/add-edit-content/pages/multipurpose
  • Mywebsite.gatech.edu/add-edit-content/pages/basic
  • Mywebsite.gatech.edu/add-edit-content/pages/vertical
  • Mywebsite.gatech.edu/add-edit-content/pages/horizontal, etc.

Additionally, your URLs should be human-readable, which will make your site visitors and search-engines happy.