A website redo is a big task involving many ideas, lots of planning, and many, many meetings. Often, significant time is devoted to a new website’s appearance and not as much time to its structure.
Yet websites are one of a school’s most powerful and frequently used marketing tools. So if your website is hard to navigate and visitors can’t find the information they are looking for, it won’t matter if it’s pretty.
If you are creating, revamping or reevaluating your website, consider these simple yet often overlooked basics of website content organization:
The simpler the website structure, the better. Consider the content that will go on each page. Is it necessary? Can it fit in elsewhere? Remove or consolidate pages when possible, and link to other related pages to help your audience reach related content.
Find out what your audience wants to know, and make sure that information is prominent, both within the website navigation and within the page content itself.
Consider your website from an outsider’s perspective. If you find that you can’t be objective, then get a small group of students, faculty or staff to review the site structure. You don’t have to take all of their suggestions, but they might be able to spot problems with organization faster than someone on the inside.
Your visitors should not have to search hard for the information they are looking for. Even if the content is buried pages deep, the path to get there should be clear.
Don’t base your content organization on internal perspectives or structure. Instead, think about how your audience would actually search for a topic. The content that is on your website should be intuitive. Review websites that you admire and enjoy visiting, and consider what makes them so user-friendly, then apply that logic to your own content. While browsing other school websites is helpful, you can gain insight from thoughtfully perusing websites of all kinds.
Encourage exploration of your site and ensure visitors find what they are looking for by including utilizing sidebar navigation and other prominent areas on the page to link to related content.
The fewer clicks it takes to get to a page, the better. This is why websites use dropdown menus, and it’s another reason why you want to keep your navigation concise, since large dropdown menus can be overwhelming, as well as difficult to navigate on phones and tablets.
Creativity has a place, and it’s not in your website page names. While pages like “About Us”, or “Our Programs” are not creative, they’re clear, familiar and easily understood—which is exactly what you want your website navigation to be, since it makes it faster and easier for your audience to get where they want to go.
Focus on these basics and you will put some major substance behind that beautiful appearance, giving you a website that draws your audience in and makes it easy for them to learn why your school is so great.
Once you’ve created an easy-to-navigate structure, make sure your pages are clear and organized with our free website page writing template.