Web Design: Using the Site Map
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One sure indication of good web design is the presence of a site map. If the web designer screws up everything else, a good site map alone can save a web site. Every medium to large-size web sites should have one so that visitors who aren't sure where to find what they need in your web site can easily turn to the site map. This article will guide you to making a good site map.
1. A site map should be a text-only (that is, no graphics) listing of your web site's contents. This is helpful for people with slow internet connections. With a site map, they can skip your flashy web pages and get the info they want really quick. Remember: good web design puts convenience and ease of use first of all.
2. A site map must be organized. Use headings for main sections and plain but descriptive links for each web page. Ideally you should use the same phrases that appear in the pages' titles. List the important categories first. The standard information pages (help, about, e-mail, etc.) should be at the bottom.
3. If a given article has two or more web pages, list each one with its own title, indented to show it is part of the last article. (Don't forget this web design rule: Use a unique page title for each web page.)
4. Do not list pages in the site map that is NOT to be found in the main menus and links. It would indicate sloppy web design to have to tell your visitors, "Please go to our site map and click so-so link..." A site map is merely a convenient listing or index of your web site, so don't put anything there that isn't in the rest.
An accessible site map is a mark of thoughtful and intelligent web design. It makes a web site drooling with Flash and Java effects more user-friendly and saves your visitors' valuable time. Don't overlook this important design tool. Use it wisely and your visitors will come back more often.
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