Physical Site Structure
What we’re going to talk about now is how the site that we’re creating or how our demonstration site is organized. And we’re going to talk about this in a form of an outline.
Top Level Pages
So you get to your home page and all of your top level pages are, in this case, services, the kind of services that we provide. Case studies are examples of projects. Testimonials are comments by our customers. About is a page about me or about you. And then there’s an articles page which is just another term for blog in this case.
So these are our 5 main pages, Services, Case Studies, Testimonials, About and Articles. And let’s just go over and look at the site so you can see that.
We’ve got a link to the Home Page naturally but then About, Finished Projects, Services, Articles. There’s this little subscribe thing on here that we’ll talk about a little bit later. This is more of a call to action really than it is a menu item. Hmm, we’re missing the testimonials and we need to put them back in there. But that’s what we’ll be creating here today.
Sub Level Pages
Now notice, in addition to that, some of these pages have subpages, right? So finished projects has a page for each of the finished projects, West Seattle View Home, East Side Craftsman Home and so on and so forth.
The same thing is true for services. We’ve got this services page and then the services page itself links off when the services page loads. The services page itself then links off to its subpages. So this here leaves off to one of the subpages, custom home design services. This is the subpage here. So you’ve got these subpages that are pages of the main pages.
Sitemap to Visualize Hierarchy
This is a little sitemap to help you sort of visualize this. And at the moment, this is a sitemap that is based on just the static part of the site, just pages. So you start off at your home and then we’ve got these 4 pages, services, testimonials, case studies and About. And then as subpages of case studies, we’ve got study 1, study 2 and study 3. As subpages of Services, we have service 1, service 2, and service 3.
So this is our little illustration or a diagram to show the order of arrangement of pages. This can be a helpful thing for you to do in a large and complex site. Although in a site that’s as simple as this, it’s probably not critical that you draw a little sitemap up like this.
The Blog – Adding Dynamic Content
And then in the second part of this course, we’re going to add more dynamic content to that. That is, we’re going to add an articles page. We’ll be adding the articles page today but we won’t actually add any articles to it now. The articles page is essentially our blog page and each blog post will be an article.
And then those articles will be organized under categories. And so conceptually here, you’ve got an articles page and then you’ve got a category. And inside that category are these two articles and then another category and inside of that, there are a couple others. And as a practical matter, what we’re really doing is having 4 categories with one article under each category for the purpose of this class.
URL Structure – Reflects the Hierarchy
Now when we do this, it results in those URLs that I was talking about or demonstrating earlier. That is you know, it starts off with the site name. That’s the first part of the URL and then the main page name which is case studies. And then the subpage name which is case study 1, right?
So site name, main page name and subpage as you can see in this one example, rickandersonarchitects.com, finished projects, West Seattle View Home. Anybody looking at this URL knows exactly what they’re going to see on this page.
They may not know what it looks like but they’re definitely going to understand that they are getting ready to look at an example of Rick Anderson’s work and that example is a single family home in West Seattle. So that’s what your goal is here is to create URLs that are easily read like this and therefore, easily indexed.
Conceptual Site Structure
So that was the physical structure of the site. The site also has a conceptual structure. And this is more of a philosophical structure, right? What are you trying to accomplish with your website? It is something that’s important for you to think about when you decide you’re going to start creating your website. What is it that I want to accomplish with this site?
Promote Your Business
I’m suggesting, at least in this site, there are 4 main conceptual structures. The first thing is promotion. I want to promote my business and in that promotion, I want to explain to people why they should do business with me. What is it about me that makes me unique in their web search that suggests that they should be doing business with me?
Information About the Business
The second thing I want to do is provide them with information and that information is essentially, what can I do for them? What is it that I do that will be useful to them?
And the next thing is demonstrating my expertise and in terms of demonstrating my expertise, that most often comes in the form of case studies. So an architect’s case study will be a finished project. A web designer’s case study will be somebody’s website. A counselor’s case study may be an example of a client who took their advice and succeeded.
You’re looking here for an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise so that when they find the information that they’re looking for, they believe that you are capable of doing the job for them.
And then finally, you’re looking for a call to action. Your site is not just there to be a vanity location for people to come and look at. It’s not really a resume, right? The site, if it’s going to be useful, primarily should be a call to action.
It should ask people to do something, to take the next step because it’s really not doing you a whole lot of good for people just to be able to find your site. You want to provide them with a way of engaging with you, a way of choosing to do business with you, a mechanism for getting a hold of you. Some method of encouraging them to go from looking at your website to giving you money. So that’s the other part of this.
And by the time we’re finished with this course, we will have flushed out all of those elements. We’ll provide people with a rationale for why they should do business. We’ll have given them the information that they need in order to make a decision. We’ll have demonstrated our expertise by showing them examples of what we’ve done in the past and we’ll have asked them to actively take a step to hire us. So that’s the conceptual organization.