Planning Your Website Architecture

Imagine that every article on your site is a room and it has an exterior door. A nightmare for a house architect but essential for a website architect. Because every page on your site has the ability to bring you free traffic from a search engine result page(SERP).

You cannot anticipate which page someone will land on from a SERP. Any page can be a landing page so it is important to know what type of constant content you want displayed in your frame for all pages. Luckily most of the basic stuff is already there.

The header tells them the name of your website, the footer gives them the websites link url. The top nav bar leads them back to home (the front page for the bare url) and perhaps to about (who the website author or company is) and the content on the page is what they clicked on to see, from the SERP .

Website Architecture is about deciding what else a visitor can access from this landing page. It’s about creating doors and windows that lead to other content that they may be interested to read. If you want visitors to stick around and read more you’ll want to make make these windows really attractive and interesting.

It’s also about NOT displaying windows to other content on some landing pages,, so your visitors don’t get distracted by the view and want to go play in the garden, but instead stay on that page and take the action you wish them to take, such as purchase a product, submit a form, sign up for a newsletter or contact you in some way.

Website Flow and Navigation

The frame around your content (article area) appears to be very simple. Many CMS users never use more than basic widgets and links and their website frame does not change at all from one article to another. For a simple website this is fine. If their navigation links in the frame lead to all other content on their site and that is what is wanted, it’s perfect. Especially for a small website.

It is not so good for a large website. Imagine a skyscraper with no lifts or elevators. If people have to climb stairs to get to the top, only the really fit and determined will ever get there! In a similar way people will only read and click next to continue, for a short period of time before they get tired.

You don’t want to create a maze for people to get lost in. You want to create a lobby area with a signboard of offices in the building and an elevator that will take them straight there. Once there, they don’t need to be distracted by unrelated links. They need to know where the rooms in that office are and they need to be able to access the lobby at any time.

Every website has a one click fire escape. If people get frustrated or bored you get a bounce. A bounce is when people land on your page and click away again within 5 seconds. If you have an analytics account with Google, you’ll know all about your bounce rate. You can also check stats at your host to see how many people read more than one page of your site. It’s not usually many, so don’t get paranoid. But you’ll want to work at lowering your bounce rate with every technique you can use.

Using Plugins To Improve Your Website Architecture

If a visitor lands on a page about boats – it’s because they are interested in boats. If your site topic is about all types of vehicles, your other content may or may not be of interest to them.

One of the sides of your website needs to have that lobby area in it. Most large sites now place this in a feature area just above the footer. It often has columns with the top level links sorted by category, much like those lobby address boards, where you can find a small office by company name and discover their floor number and office suite.

When a visitor is in the suite already however, such as the visitor who landed on the page about boats, they are probably more interested in more content about boats than they are in finding out what else you have to offer them. Just like the person looking for one office suite in a skyscraper.

So another side of your website needs to help them to find more articles about boats. The area you choose to display your links can vary from related links at the bottom of an article, to advanced menus that change according to a page category in your sidebar.

Using Category Topics To Improve Your Website Architecture

Planning website architecture is very important, so that your content can later be sorted logically and organized into related topic groups that can be used as a topic array.

To enable the CMS to create menus to such content automatically and also display new articles you have added without going back to edit the original pages, you need to employ plugins that can find an array of data by an id and convert it to display in specific ways in a post with a shortcode or inside a specific widget in a sidebar area.

To enable good arrays of data to choose from you need to carefully plan how you categorise your content. A very simple but excellent start is to, for this example, sort all posts on boats into a top level category of boats, and if you have related boat topics, to create subcategories under this such as boat engineering, sail boats, motor boats etc. This means you have two sets of arrays. One with all posts on boats and then a second set for each subcategory. This sub category id can then be used to display related content.

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