Corporate Site Map
If you’re at the stage of drafting web architecture for a corporate website, you should already have a clear understanding of the website objectives (what you want to accomplish), website requirements (what you want the website to do), and user groups (who will use the website).
The objective in drafting corporate web architecture is to align these three components into two deliverables: a site map and wireframe. Let’s begin by drafting a general corporate site map. The site map will organize the required pages and help prioritize order.
Keep in mind there are nine user groups who will use the corporate website: potential customers, customers, potential employees, employees, potential partners, partners, potential investors, investors, and publishers.
After the site map is complete, use a wireframe to help organize the web architecture. At least create a wireframe for the homepage and one internal website page. You many even want to wireframe all top-level pages (home, our services, our company, support, news & events, blog, and login) or every page in the site map.
To help wireframe a corporate site, use the site map and the wireframe guide below to begin drafting a layout.
It’s important to understand that most users have a computer display with 1024×768 pixels or more. According to W3Schools browser statistics, 36% of users have 1024×768 displays and 57% have an even higher screen resolution. To make sure your website looks good (no left, right scroll), this web architecture wireframe is 960 pixels wide. View Browser grid statistics from WPDFD
The header area should be mostly the same throughout the entire website. Include a logo for branding and make sure you link the logo to the homepage. Also, include a positioning statement (unique value position) to let users know what you do and why you are different. This will quickly engage their attention and validate their needs. Include a call to action like a phone number or email address so users don’t have to think when they want to contact you. Another suggestion is to add a few quick links for frequently accessed pages, such as login, contact, office locater, etc.
Bread Crumb Trail
Bread crumb trail navigation is a link based navigation that shows the path you traveled to arrive at a particular page. For example, you might start on the homepage, click to a service page, click to a solution page, and then click to see client projects. As you navigate to the final page, a link trail appears (typically above the main content) that shows the pages previously visited. Each of these links should be clickable so a user can quickly go back.
The content area is where your main text, images, and videos will show on the web page. It’s important that users can quickly scan your content and search engines can identify the important statements. To accomplish this, title each page inside the <h1> </h1> HTML tags, use a sub title in the <h2> </h2> HTML tags, and include subheadings in the <h3> </h3>, <h4> </h4>, and <h5> </h5> HTML tags. Search engines will factor the content inside these HTML tags into their algorithm when positioning your site in the search engine results. Let your web architect know to how you want these tags formatted so their color and size help the reader scan through the website text.
Use the sidebar area for subpage navigation within internal pages. It could also be used for advertising using standard banner sizes such as the 250×250, multiple 125×125 square buttons, or the popular 160×600 wide skyscraper. Near the top of this area is a great place to add a newsletter sign up form and it doesn’t have to take up a lot of vertical space. Other options include calls to actions, recent news, upcoming events, popular blog posts, and credibility factors such as testimonials to reduce a user’s anxiety.
In closing, this article’s goal was to give you an example of a corporate site map that you could customize to fit your own needs. With this site map and the wireframe guide, you can draft a web architecture that will be user friendly, search engine friendly, and aligned with business objectives.