One of the first steps you should take when building a new or redesigned website is establishing your menu structure or navigation. This is critical as you will really need to think about what type of content you would like to include on your website and where it will live. This step also helps you have a plan to talk to your constituents using key words and phrases that they want to see or need to know about. Developing your navigation first, makes sure that “you have a place for everything, and everything in it’s place”.
Another benefit of determining your menu structure first is that this will help with choosing design. Do you need to have a strong portfolio section? Will you site be article heavy so the blog feature should work really well? Do you have a brochure type website but you will be hosting a lot of forms that people need to get to quickly and easily? All these decisions help your web developer not only find a theme that will work well for your site, but make sure your key components will work nicely going forward.
If you are building your site for great SEO, this is also a great step to take to build out your site around your keywords and phrases. Adding additional pages with content will not only tell your audience what you are all about, but will help Google determine that as well.
A navigation document or menu structure document does not need to be a fancy work of art. You can use some type of visual editor to organize your content, but you can also write out an outline, just like you used to do in school before you wrote your book report or paper. Top level items (L1s) are first and drop downs (L2s) appear indented and under the top level items.
Remember, there is rarely a case for an orphan page. If you are going to have links to a page on the home page or on other pages, make sure that page fits in some navigation somewhere.
Below is a sample navigation I put together a while ago for one of my clients. You can see how we organized their information below for visitors to the site so they can find information easily, as well as possibly being presented with some new information they were not expecting.
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Title on home page (please review): USLSSHA – US Life-Saving Service Historical Association, Dedication to the Preservation of the Life Saving Servicemen and Women
Board of Directors
Daily Station Life
Boats of Service
Beach Ap. Drill
NEWS & EVENTS
PUBLICATIONS & NEWSLETTERS
Donate & Support