Your ideas and content should determine your Site Structure

One of the first things you should ask yourself when you decide upon having a website is: What do I actually want to have on my website? And the follow-up question to that is: How should I organize it?

Easier said than done. This is probably the most important thing to get in place before you get started on your website since it is actually the ideas that you have for the site that should be driving it structure and appearance, not the other way around. It can also be one of the hardest things to think through. Sure you will need to make adjustment once you start getting things in place on your website and having a well grounded idea of what you want your website to do will give you a strong starting point.

Two exercises will be helpful in trying to get this together.

Step One: How do others do it?

Look around on-line and find website that you like, not just based upon the look of the site, but by the way they convey the information and or services they have to offer.
Start to dissect the site: How is this information organized, how easy is it to get around to all the parts of the website, what would I change?

Try not to think about things like colors and fonts for a second, these are important graphic elements that will contribute greatly to your site, (we’ll explore that later), but for this exercise I want you to try and see how the websites you are looking at organize and arrange the content or “information blocks.”

Also examine your own ideas on “what a website should look like” and question any presumptions. This may open yourself up to fresh dynamic ideas that may be beneficial to what you want to accomplish. Also, look at a website, picturing yourself as a potential visitor to your website. What do you want potential customers/clients/friends to see and be able to do once they visit your website?

Step Two: Sketch out a Page Tree.

Typically a website consists of a variety of places that will contain a variety of information. You will have the opportunity in WordPress to create main content containers such as pages, posts, and galleries and you’ll also have other areas for information such as sidebars, footers and headers. (These last three items will be dealt with when we talk about widgets.)

For now, lets focus on organizing and arranging your content (words and images) into different pages. As this will form the basic structure of your website.

I find it helpful to just sit down with a pencil and paper and organize the ideas for my site in a page tree or page hierarchy. These are usually a combination on basic pages that most websites have like a Contact Page of and About Page but also concepts or basic function that are very specific to my website project. This exercise will also help you conceptualize you main menu/navigation bar.
Obviously things will occur you you later on down the road as you start building out your website. The nice thing about WordPress is that nothing is set in stone, it’s very easy to add and delete pages and menu items if you feel like you need to rearrange the ideas and functions of your website.

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