Set up a small business website

Plan your website content and structure

There are many ways to plan content and the information architecture for a website. Depending on the size of your site, you may use one or more tools and techniques, such as:

  • sitemaps
  • content inventories
  • content mapping
  • card sorting
  • paper sketches

What are sitemaps?

Sitemap diagrams are graphic tools that can help you to:

  • visualise the relationships between pages on your website
  • ensure the right flow between pages
  • spot gaps in content
  • develop your website design around content, rather than the other way around
  • encourage team collaboration and allocation of content creation
  • identify potential issues that could affect content creation and project deadlines

You can draw up a sitemap in a word document, on a spreadsheet, or use one of many free tools that are available online.

See examples of sitemap documents or browse online to find more.

Content inventory tool

A content inventory can help you examine the scope and purpose of each page on the site. It can be time-consuming to create but useful if you are relaunching an existing site, as it will help you to:

  • record and analyse each item of content that you have
  • establish how well it performs
  • segment your content types and work out how best to present them

Find out more about content inventory and learn how to carry out a content audit.

What is content mapping?

Content mapping is a visual technique that can help you plan your website content. It is a method that combines:

  • an analysis of your business goals
  • an assessment of your audience
  • your content objectives

By carrying out these activities, you can produce content maps for your site and work out which content should feature. Content mapping can help you explore and visualise your content, its effectiveness and root it in clearly defined business goals.

You can also use simple card sorting and paper sketches to organise your content according to hierarchy. See how to visually map content for your website.

When choosing your method of content planning, consider the size and type of your website. For example, a laborious content mapping exercise may be excessive if you are building a simple brochure site.

When to start planning content?

Good website content takes time, a strategic approach and often many revisions. Make sure that you consider content early on in the website planning process to prevent delays and cost overruns during development. See also best practices for content marketing.