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Building a website without considering the architecture beforehand is like traveling without planning your route. You might end up at your destination, but there’s no telling how many detours you’ll take along the way. The same is true of websites. Planning out your website architecture before you ever start building will lead to a number of benefits, including a streamlined design process, a more efficient layout, a search engine-friendly design and functionality that your users will love.

Components of Web Architecture

Web Architecture Site Map

1. Site Map

Web Architecture Site Map
The site map is a guide to the organization of your website. It’s a visual representation of everything that’s found on your site, indicating what links to where, what pages are connected, and how you can get from one part of the site to the other. This will ultimately become the XML sitemap which will be submitted to search engines, but in the early design stage it is the template that will guide the further design efforts.

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Web Architecture Wireframe

2. Wireframe

This is a very basic conceptual idea of what the actual pages will look like. This is a non-working mockup, intended just to get an idea of where components will be positioned on each page. Example components might include: logo, sign-in, search box, main navigation, sub navigation, main content, callouts, dynamic content, widgets, sliders etc…

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Web Architecture Interactions

3. Interactions

Interactions simulate how people will use the website. It describes what users will actually experience as they work with the site. Whereas a wireframe might indicate that a contact page exists, the interactions will help you visualize where users will go after they use with the contact page. It will show where they are directed if they submit the contact form, and it will show what happens if there is an error.

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By laying out everything in advance and taking the time to think about it in the abstract, it’s possible to come up with innovative solutions that might not have been apparent later on. It’s also much easier to spot potential flaws in an already conceptualized design. The biggest advantage of using website architecture is that it’s easily changed. Nothing here is hard to adapt at all. It allows you to write down ideas and give them a try without having to worry about complex coding.

Next Steps

Website architecture is the first step in web design. It comes after the basic fundamentals are set: you know what function your website needs to accomplish, you know who your users are, and you have an idea of what they like. Now you need to determine how best to meet those needs while communicating the uniqueness of your product. After this step is completed, you’ll want to go on to website prototyping, where you create a working representation of your site and let users test it, but don’t hard code it yet so that it’s still easily changeable. After you get feedback on the prototype, the user experience design will fine-tune the functionality of your site and how visitors interact with it.