Tag: Sitemap

Website Redesign, the First Steps

Website_Redesign_01

Weak interface solutions is one of the modern Internet’s current problems. Users that see imperfections regularly may not notice them, but then they encounter another website that has a better design and realize that the first one was not that good. It is this fact that pushes major organizations to experiment with the design of their website interface and make a complete redesign. Does my website need a redesign? And what tools are used to create an intuitive and user-friendly interface?

The reasons why companies may consider redesigning their website:

1. Absence of targeted traffic

Your site neither attracts targeted traffic nor attracts enough traffic. The lack of targeted traffic is one of the first reasons to change the current website interface.

2. Changing the principles or business objectives of a company

Structural changes in the company’s business goals lead to interface redesign. Such changes are especially relevant in a situation where a non-commercial site has to occupy a niche in commercial sites field.

3. The desire to accentuate the content

Websites are often created without the properly structuralized content. For this reason, a huge number of sites are not adapted for users and search engines. The search for the necessary content turns into a test. Content accentuation makes the necessary information easily accessible.

Evaluate your site by these criteria and determine the need for redesign. The process of redesigning is complex, multi-level work that requires a responsible approach at every stage. In the process of developing the first version of the site, you probably did not study the target audience, and the design was not excellent. Redesign is a correction of mistakes and its distinctive features are:

– the research of target audience and development of the user path based on the data provided by research

– the development of target audience-oriented content

– the development of content-oriented interface

The process of website redesign has nothing to do with rebranding. The redesign implies changes to the structure based on the data provided by UX researches.

Where to Start?

You should start the process of redesign by conducting a research of your target audience. Here is the list of some powerful UX tools used to make a full-scale research:

User Interviews

Website Redesign

If you have planned to redesign your website, you should focus your attention on the customers that use the site on a regular basis and know the flaws of your interface. The UX designer should conduct user interviews, which sometimes can be of a challenge. The thing is that it is often hard for user to answer the questions about the specifics of interface interaction. This happens because users get used to the interactions with your website and it becomes like a routine for them – no specifics to describe, just the usual automatic actions When conducting an interview, it is important to receive the most detailed information from the user. One way is to conduct a contextual interview.
Contextual interview allows you to combine user observation and a classic interview form. During the user observation, you have to ask him to comment on the actions performed when using the website interface. During the contextual interview, it is necessary to questions, clarify them if needed, and record the answers. Help users to formulate their thoughts in order to get the most accurate information.

Finding Out the Users Personas

Website Redesign

An important part of user-oriented interface creation is to work out the user “Persona”. It is a generalized representation of one part of the target audience, the users of which have similar views on your product. When creating a “Persona”, the UX designer should include the characteristics that are common to one group of your clients, according to the researches conducted before.
The Personas let you see the possible ways your project can go and may influence the decisions about the website interface. A “Persona” may also simplify third-party interactions that you deal with throughout the project. A detailed “Persona” describes the target audience in a quick and understandable way.

You should conduct a research of users personas in a team, because you can get to know your target audience and use that experience in further interface updates. A creation of “Persona” begins with defining users characteristics that should be obtained in the course of researches (e.g. user interviews, analysis of user reviews). Group the characteristics of “Persona” into clusters and analyze them. Then, exclude the characteristics that are useless for the business and group clusters that include common characteristics together. The clusters should be further personalized, made memorable and realistic. Specify the information:

– Name, age, gender and a photo

– Description of activities

– The experience of using your product and your competitor’s

– Their goals and problems your website solves

it is important to remember that it is necessary to create a realistic image – this will help the team to memorize the person they are developing interface for. Важно помнить, что необходимо создать образ реалистичного персонажа, это поможет команде помнить образ пользователя для которого они создают интерфейс.

Content Development

Website Redesign

You should develop the target audience-oriented content in accordance with the research data obtained.
Content-oriented approach is one of the most popular methodology for website design and redesign development. In this approach, the content is the essence of your website. The design should provide the user with an intuitive and comfortable path to the desired content. Instead of developing a nice-looking UI that has poor layout logic, start developing content that is needed by users. This approach saves you the time spent on iterations, if you have started the redesign with the development of UI. Target audience-oriented content is one of criteria that lets you build the information structure that is intuitively understandable to users. In its turn, the information structure will become a good basis of further UI development that will be aesthetic, authentic and intuitive for the target audience.

General Recommendations

Before you start redesigning your website you should consider the project’s budget in order not to use the excessive amount of methods. If the designer knows the budget, he can distribute it among different UX methods in a correct way. Some project may require more “contextual user interviews” with “user observation”, some may require a “usability testing”. In any event, it should be remembered that you should use empathy in order to understand the users to whom you develop the interface for. This is possible only if you research the target audience with UX methodologies and SEO data regularly.

Conclusion

In the course of this article, we have reviewed some simple actions and methods that may be implemented by an UX designer to redesign the website in a quick and efficient way. It should be understood that target audience research is not limited to user interviews and “Persona” creation. The amount of “UX research” methods is full of elegant elements that help designers to make their projects better and better. The main purpose of this article was to unveil some user-research methodologies in UX design and to understand some core principles of developing a well-structured website. The next articles will focus on powerful tools that an UX designer may use to develop an intuitive interface, and what tools should be implemented to keep the constantly changing user needs under control.

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Example of a Sitemap

We have reviewed the specifics of the structure of the three most popular Visual Sitemap types. You can use the templates that were discussed in our article to design your own unique site structure right now.

Example of a Sitemap

Introduction

In this article, we will research an averaged structure of a Sitemap. Before proceeding with the Sitemap analysis, it should be recalled that the relevant website structure implies a consolidation of the amount of information obtained as a result of conducting and processing the UX research and the semantic core clustering. Any proper Sitemap begins with a clear understanding of the website’s target audience.

You can read more about the website structure methodology in the following article:
How to Plan a Website Structure

However, some common features may be present in different Sitemaps and provide familiar patterns of user interaction.

Sitemap of an Online Store

Sitemap of an Online Store

Online stores have a complex, branched structure. The actual place of an online store in the market and its volume of sales will actually depend on good, thoroughly-developed navigation system.

Typical elements of an online store:

  • Home (main) Page
  • Product catalog
  • Product card
  • Shopping cart
  • Order processing
  • Text Page
  • Account
  • Contacts

An example of a hierarchical Sitemap of an online store can be found here:

Home (main) Page consists of the key information about the online store. Online store Sitemap should start from this page. The customer should receive general information about the specialization of an online store and intuitively comprehend how to navigate through it.

Product catalog is the implementation of a thoughtful cataloging of the online store, that provides intuitive user navigation. Sophisticated cataloging implies a detailed understanding of the target audience needs.

Product card is required to provide the most detailed information about the product. This page should include product photos, basic characteristics, the comparison module and the “Add to cart” button.

Shopping cart is the page which consists of products that the user has selected for purchase. There, the user should see a list of goods that he chose to buy and pricing.

Order processing The user enters this page after confirming the purchase on the **Shopping cart** page. Here, the user needs to fill in personal data, select a delivery method and complete the purchase.

Text Page is a kind of a ‘Product Blog’ in an online store. This page displays the current information about the product that is selected by the user.

Account is the page on which the users can enter their personal information and set a preferable payment method. Entering this information will speed up the order processing.

Contacts page raises the level of user confidence. Contact information provides an opportunity for the user to get advice or clarify some details that were not described on the Product card.

This is the most generalized idea of the types of pages that should be included in the structure of an online store. It should also be noted that in any website structure there will most likely be standard information pages like ‘About us’, ‘Delivery and payment’, ‘Purchase returns’, and ‘Privacy policy’.

News Portal Sitemap

News Portal Sitemap Example

Considering the most obvious elements of the news portal structure, a number of specific features can be highlighted. One of these features is a huge array of information that comes through the news website every day.

Typical elements of a news portal Sitemap:

  • Home Page
  • News catalog
  • News Pages

Home Page implies the display of the most relevant news for the user. Being on this page, the user should easily find the news on the topic that interests him.

News catalog A large news portal is updated with a huge amount of information every day. Given the huge number of topics, you must create a dictionary of tags, and catalog the topics in accordance with it. Thus, journalists will have the opportunity to organize news on specific topics, providing convenient navigation through the website. When forming a dictionary of tags for a news portal, you need to rely on the research of the target audience. Make sure that it is fresh and up to date.

News Pages exist for convenient reading of news. You may also want to display the links to similar news articles here.

As a rule, the news portal does not imply wide functionality. However, a huge amount of regular updates makes cataloging a priority task. In addition to news pages, the information pages such as “About Us” and “Privacy Policy” may also be present on the news portal.

Corporate Website Sitemap

Sitemap of a Corporate Website
Corporate website is often used for presentation purposes. The main objective of this site is to introduce the user to the company and its products.

See an example of a corporate website Sitemap by clicking the following link:

Typical elements of a corporate website Sitemap:

  • Product/Service
  • Company’s news
  • About

Product/Service page shows all the information regarding the product or services offered by the company. The detailed information on such pages allows the user to get acquainted with the company and make a decision whether to interact with it or not.

Company’s news demonstrates the latest company news that may be of interest to both employees and customers of the company.

This page contains the history of the company, and there may be some photos of employees. it raises the level of user confidence and allows users to trust the company.

Corporate websites usually do not have extensive Sitemaps. As a rule, these sites are not meant to attract a lot of traffic. Corporate websites are needed for a convenient presentation of detailed information regarding a product or a service provided. The target audience of such sites, as a rule, are people already familiar with the company’s products or services, but they want to get more detailed information.

Conclusion


Different sites are made for different purposes and, as a result, have different structure. If you want to design a convenient website structure, you must first put yourself in user’s shoes.

This information allows you to design an intuitive interface that will certainly affect the User Experience in a good way, and as a result, the overall success of your project. To ensure clear navigation, you should also follow the basic rule of Sitemap developing – the ‘viewing depth’ should not exceed three or four clicks, depending on the amount of website content. In this article, we have provided examples of three popular types of Sitemaps. Naturally, these examples are not the only true ones, and may not be appropriate in your particular situation. However, you should accept niche-specific user interaction patterns when planning a Sitemap.

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SiteMaps: What Is It and How to Do It

 
Regardless of the complexity or purpose of your website, chances are that a sitemap isn’t the first topic on your agenda. Site admins and content creators often rely on practical, user-centric web and content development, without paying a lot of attention to the back-end side of things.

However, disregarding the importance of sitemaps is risky because they can help to accomplish a critical goal of making it easier for search engines to find your website’s pages. In other words, they’re a great part of your SEO, so not having one could be a disadvantage.

But how exactly sitemaps improve SEO? They let search engines know the literal mapping of your website’s structure, starting from the top (landing page/navigation bar) to the bottom level (articles, products, etc.). This makes indexing, therefore, choosing your website for search results, much easier.

Since sitemaps are so important, let’s explore them a little bit more by taking a look at how to create a good one and the ways in which they benefit your website.

Benefits of SiteMaps

Easier Website Management

To maximize the benefits of a sitemap for your website, you have to create one from scratch As you develop your website and expand it with different categories of content, it will become harder and harder to manage, so a dedicated sitemap can help to develop a more structured, organized website from the get-go. Things like server file management, remote collaboration and page structure modification become a bit easier as a result later on.

Customer’s Journey

A well-established sitemap allows to improve the experience of your visitors and customers by mapping of their journey through the website and giving ideas on optimizing it. For example, you might want to help your visitors find product pages as quickly as possible from the home page or a landing page. With a sitemap under your belt, you can create a flow which redirects them to that very section of your site.

How to create a Visual SiteMap

1. Preparatory phase

Creating a visual sitemap requires input from a web developer and manager because the latter can define business-related knowledge while the former converts it into a good sitemap.

Before starting designing a sitemap you should define:

  • The current goal of your business
  • The main areas of your business
  • Expansion goals that the business will pursue in the future.
Sitemaps: Preparatory phase

Answering these questions will help you to create a sitemap that will meet all the requirements of your future users, increasing sales, and improving the overall experience of website’s users, and therefore, achieve long-term goals.

Sitemaps: Create a Basic Structure

2. Create a Basic Structure

You should always start creating a sitemap from the Home Page — this way, you can create a clear hierarchy. For example, the Home Page can be the only first level page, and the second level pages – products, blog, contacts us etc. – should reflect the basic navigation.

3. The Second Level Design

The second level of the sitemap comprises a number of important site sections with a common theme such as categories of products. When designing, it’s important to look at it from the user perspective to make them easy to navigate, and providing the user with the ability to spend less time finding their way around.

Second-level pages should contain links to content inside so-called “child pages,” providing easy navigation to them. It is important that the navigation usually includes less than 10 pages of the second level.

Sitemaps: The Second Level Design
Sitemaps: Child Pages

4. “Child” Pages

Child or third-level pages are pages that contain the specific content focused on one idea. For example, if a second level page “Sports Nutrition” leads to a number of third-level pages such as “sports bars,” “amino acids,” and “protein”.

For most websites, 3 levels of page hierarchy are enough to include all content, but there are also sites where 4 or even 5 levels may be required. These are complex sites with a large range of products.

5. Testing

Once you have created your sitemap, the best solution is to create a duplicate to be able to test the performance of different options. This can help to create an intuitive and easy-to-use sitemap. At the testing stage, you can also experiment with different structures of the map and other ideas to find the best option to meet the needs of the visitors.

Sitemaps: Testing
Sitemaps: Page Content

6. Page Content

Once you have finished working on the structure of your website, you have to make it more detailed to make sure that you didn’t miss anything. For example, you can add descriptions to pages so you know what subsections will be added. By doing so, you’ll never lose the focus on the main goals and consolidate up-to-date information at all stages of development.

Author Bio

Elisa Abbott

Elisa Abbott is a freelancer whose passion lies in creative writing. She completed a degree in Computer Science and writes about ways to apply machine learning to deal with complex issues. Insights on education, helpful tools and valuable university experiences – she has got you covered 😉 When she’s not engaged in assessing translation services for PickWriters you’ll usually find her sipping cappuccino with a book.

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