Good website architecture leads to a website that’s easy to use, efficient, and effective. With well-crafted design and structure, visitors can easily find what they’re looking for and engage with your content quickly and intuitively.
Digital marketing professionals from Digital Estate have put together this guide to help users design their ideal website. For further resources visit the Digital Estate website, or get in touch today!
What is Website Architecture?
Website architecture refers to the process of planning, designing and building a website. It includes deciding what information to include on each page, organising the website content, and setting up navigation structures.
Good website architecture provides an overall framework for the website that ensures all elements are logically organised and intuitively accessed. It also establishes the visual hierarchy of each page to highlight important information and guide visitors through their journey as they explore your website.
Website architecture is essential for SEO success and a great user experience. By following best practices, such as organising content into categories and creating internal links between related pages, you can ensure that your website structure is optimised for both search engines and visitors.
Why Is Website Architecture Important?
How you structure your website’s content will determine how quickly users can understand and interact with it, as well as their overall experience when browsing your site. Poorly structured websites can be challenging to use, which leads to frustrated visitors and a lack of engagement with your content or products. This is why it’s crucial to have a properly planned and organised website architecture that is easy for your visitors to use and navigate through quickly.
When creating website architecture, it’s essential to consider the site’s information architecture (IA), which involves structuring content in a way that makes sense for users. It helps visitors find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, gives them a good user experience, and increases their chances of engaging with your content or products.
A well-structured website should make navigation intuitive, meaning visitors don’t have to think too hard while exploring the site. There should also be logical sections and sub-sections so users can easily find what they need. This will ensure users stay engaged as they explore the different parts of your website.
It’s also essential to keep in mind how Google crawlers will interpret and index your pages.
The Importance of Design in Website Structure
Design plays a vital role in website structure. Design not only guides your content layout but also helps with user navigation. By creating a visual hierarchy, design elements such as fonts, colours, and images are used to draw attention to the most important parts of the page (keeping users engaged).
Good design can also create better user experiences by making web pages more visually appealing, aesthetically pleasing, and engaging. This helps create positive associations with your brand and encourages visitors to stay on the site longer and engage with your content or products.
The design also has implications for website performance. Poorly designed websites can have slow loading times, which is bad for SEO rankings and user experience, as people are less likely to wait around if pages take too long to load. A well-designed website should load quickly while still providing visitors with an enjoyable experience.
How to Plan a Good Website Architecture for Your Website?
Choosing the right website structure for your needs involves:
- Evaluating the type of content you want to display.
- Planning the appropriate format.
- Understanding user behaviour and preferences.
- Taking into account both design and technical considerations.
When evaluating the type of content you want to display on your website, consider factors such as how much content you want to present, how interactive it will be, and what types of media (such as videos or images) you plan on using.
Another important consideration when creating content for website pages is ensuring the content is useful, engaging, and relevant. It should provide users with valuable information and be written in a clear, concise manner that’s easy to understand.
It’s best practice to ensure all links work correctly and images are sized and loading properly. As websites have become increasingly visual over time, having great visuals on the pages helps to keep visitors engaged.
Appropriate Site Structure
Website structure should be tailored to the type of content on the site and how users will interact with the content. Look for opportunities to organise content in logical categories, keep pages concise and well-structured, so they are easier to navigate, and ensure that users can find what they need quickly. As another tip, consider SEO implications when choosing your website structure.
An organised and logical site structure is also vital for a successful website. Try to limit the number of tiers or levels that users have to navigate through, as too many can make it difficult for them to find the information they need.
Create a Main Menu accessible from all pages so visitors can always navigate back to the homepage and other category pages, making navigation easy and intuitive. Utilising breadcrumbs is also helpful to show where visitors are in relation to other pages, so they can easily go back or switch between different sections of a website.
One crucial aspect of creating an effective website structure for an eCommerce site is ensuring that product pages are organized in a logical and easy-to-navigate manner, facilitating a seamless shopping experience for customers.
Setup for Home Page
Your website’s home page should be the centrepiece, as this will likely be the first page visitors will encounter. Designing an engaging and visually appealing home page can capture visitors’ attention and entice them to explore further.
Consider including captivating visuals like videos or images, along with concise yet informative descriptions of the content featured on your website. Moreover, ensure appropriate navigation elements so users can easily access different parts of your site.
Setup for other Website Pages
For other pages on your website, pay attention to visual design and ensure the page follows contemporary standards. Include a relevant title in each page’s <title> tag, as this will be used by search engines when indexing the page.
Add well-crafted navigation elements so users can quickly return to the home page or explore other parts of the site. Consider how a piece of content is laid out on each page, including headings and subheadings that organise text into sections. Lastly, be sure to include calls to action on each page so visitors are reminded of ways in which they can further interact with the website.
In case you come across any web pages that require more clicks than necessary to access, it might be a good idea to streamline your website structure. You can use a website crawling tool to identify pages on your site that may require more clicks to access and evaluate the structure of your website accordingly.
Common website pages to include
- Home page
- About page
- Contact page
- Product or Service page
- FAQ page
- Blog or News page
- Testimonial and reviews page
4 Types of Web Structures
The main four types of web structures are hierarchical, linear, lattice, and random:
- Hierarchical – resembles an organisational tree with a home page at its root.
- Linear – is similar to a book or magazine article, with each page following a linear path and guiding you towards a conclusion.
- Lattice – utilises corresponding buttons to allow users to jump back and forth between different parts of the website.
- Random – has no specific pattern or organisation, allowing for more creative navigation options.
The best type of web structure will depend on the goal and purpose of your website. Hierarchical structures are most commonly used as they offer a logical and straightforward way to navigate the pages.
Linear structures are better suited for websites with a clear beginning, middle, and end, such as tutorials or story-based websites. Lattice structures can be beneficial when complex information needs to be organised, allowing users to jump from one topic to another quickly.
In comparison, random structures allow for more creative navigational options and could work well for portfolios or other creative projects.
Key Elements of a SEO-Friendly Website Architecture
Good web structure should involve an intuitive navigation system and easy-to-read content that is organised logically.
The key elements include:
Ease of Navigation:
An effective navigation structure should feature straightforward labelling of sections, breadcrumb navigation, the ability to switch between hierarchical levels, site search functionality and accessible menus with a logical organisation of pages.
Categories and subcategories organisation:
Categories and subcategories are effective ways to organise content on a website or application. This structure helps users quickly find what they are looking for and understand their current location on the website.
It should be organised logically, with clear labels of categories and subsections, appropriate levels, and obvious relationships between sections. Subcategories can also be used to manage content further and make navigating easier.
Site search functionality is essential for making navigation easy and efficient. It should be visible, with a prominent placeholder text that quickly explains how to use the search function.
The results should appear quickly and include relevant keywords or phrases and sortable or filterable options. An autocomplete feature can improve usability by providing suggested terms as the user begins typing in their query.
A site’s mobile friendliness is increasingly important, given the rate of change across technological devices. This means ensuring its pages can be correctly displayed and navigated on any device or browser.
Images, videos and other multimedia elements must also be optimised for small screens to ensure a seamless experience for the user. Speed is also of utmost importance – visitors should not have to wait too long for pages to load, which can lead them to abandon the site altogether.
An effective URL structure is crucial to the user experience by helping search engines easily index and categorise a website. URLs should be kept concise and organised into a hierarchy that accurately reflects the site’s structure, using clear page names and categories.
Also, incorporate keywords into URLs whenever possible to make them more descriptive. It’s also important to avoid including too many parameters or dynamic elements in a single URL.
Images and load-times
Imagery can significantly enhance a website’s usability and appeal. However, images must be optimised for fast loading times, as large files can slow down the user experience.
Images should also include descriptive text appropriately tagged with keywords and phrases to improve search rankings. A good practice is to compress images without compromising their quality to ensure they load quickly.
Looking for more ways to expand the reach of your website? Digital Estate offer a range of digital marketing services designed to help your business reach its full potential
Site Architecture Best Practices
Here is a list of website architecture best practices to keep in mind when constructing your website:
- Make sure all pages are clearly organised, labelled and hierarchical.
- Try to make URLs descriptive and easily readable by both users and search engine algorithms.
- Use page titles that contain relevant keywords.
- Utilise breadcrumbs for easy navigation.
- Include an HTML sitemap for improved discoverability.
- Use proper anchor text links between related content on different pages.
- Utilise dynamic menus where appropriate to provide users quick access to different site sections.
Upgrade Your Website Architecture and Improve Your SEO
Upgrading your existing website architecture can have a significant impact on your SEO. Creating a more organised and easy-to-navigate structure will offer the benefits mentioned above, bringing more traffic and potentially more clients to your website.
Additionally, descriptive page titles featuring relevant keywords can help boost your rankings, as well as URLs that are URL encoded and easily read by both users and search engines. Ultimately, well-structured websites have improved user satisfaction and visibility with search engines, so upgrading your existing architecture can be an important step in optimising your website for SEO.
Upgrading an existing website architecture differs from starting the process from scratch in many ways. When upgrading, you are working with an existing structure and hierarchy that may need to be modified or improved.
This means taking into account any navigation issues, content groupings, page titles, and URLs that already exist on the site. You’ll want to ensure any changes are easy to implement and won’t disrupt a user’s experience when navigating the website.
Starting a website architecture from scratch allows more freedom in structuring your pages, categories and keywords – as well as deciding how users interact with each page – but it can take more time and resources compared to upgrading an existing website architecture.
What does “breadcrumbs” mean in terms of navigation?
Breadcrumbs refer to a website navigation pattern that shows the user’s current location within a website. They appear as text links at the top of a page listing all the sections and pages in the existing hierarchy, going from most general (top-level) to most specific (current page). Breadcrumbs provide users with an easy way to see where they are on the website, and how many levels deep into the hierarchy they’ve gone and give them quick access to jump back up multiple levels should they need to.
How can I ensure that my website is mobile-friendly?
Consider the following when making your website mobile friendly:
- Use a responsive design to adjust layouts and content for different screens automatically.
- Utilise proper media queries to serve images and other elements in the most appropriate sizes for specific devices.
- Optimise for speed by reducing page load times and avoiding redirects.
- Make sure fonts are legible on both desktop and mobile displays.
- Allow users to navigate easily with large touch targets and fewer steps required to reach a goal.
What are some common mistakes to avoid when designing a website structure?
Try to avoid these common mistakes:
- Ignoring user experience or creating an overly complex site structure.
- Too much content without classification and organisation.
- Content that must be spread across multiple pages makes it difficult for users to find what they are looking for.
- Not using breadcrumbs to clearly mark where the user is within the website structure.
- Not taking into account SEO needs when selecting page titles and structure.
How can I evaluate the effectiveness of my website’s structure?
Evaluating the effectiveness of your website’s structure is critical to ensure that your website is optimised for users and achieves its goals. It can be done by considering factors such as usability and user experience, page load times, search engine optimisation (SEO), analytics, and conversion rate optimisation (CRO).
Usability should focus on ensuring users can quickly find what they are looking for, page load times should aim for maximum efficiency and speed, SEO needs should be taken into consideration when selecting page titles and structure, data from analytics can provide insight into how visitors interact with the website, and CRO should be used to identify opportunities to increase conversions.
What is UX?
UX, or user experience, is an umbrella term for all aspects of a person’s interaction with a product or service. This includes factors such as the website’s usability, how easy it is to navigate and find what you are looking for, the overall appearance and feel of the website, how responsive it is to different devices, and other considerations such as accessibility and privacy. UX focuses on ensuring users have a positive interaction with any product or service you create.
Want more advice on how to enhance your website? Get in touch with the team from Digital Estate and have them offer a professional service tailored to your business