How To Organize A Website

by | Mar 19, 2018 | Website Design Basics

In this lesson we will go through how to organize a website which is valuable if you don't have and IT department in your company or if you are small company or a startup. This lesson will give you recommendations on how should a website be structured and what should the menus contain.

A decade ago the preferred structure for a website was to collect pages in folders based on their topic. If you were building a school website you might have several sections, for example:

  • assetlabacademy.com/classes/*
  • assetlabacademy.com/faculty/*
  • assetlabacademy.com/staff/*
  • assetlabacademy.com/campus/*

The menus on the website were tightly coupled to this folder structure, meaning, to change a menu a page was created or moved between folders, resulting in a corresponding change to the menu.

It turns out that this presents two major problem when a website grows:

  1. A website naturally reorganizes as it grows to help its visitors find information more easily
  2. Moving a page causes a SEO problem, which leads us to create massive lists of URL redirects which slow down websites

We have a better solution these days!

Now, we create pages in a flat manner, meaning they are generally all under the domain name, like this:

  • assetlabacademy.com/website-design-basics

Then, we create menus using whatever structure we want... paying no attention to where the page is in the folder structure.

To create some relationships between pages of a common type, for example a blog, or a How To article we use a separate "category" concept which is really just like tagging a page based on what it is.

Finally, we add folder structure only if it is necessary. For example, this page is in the "training" folder (which you can see in the URL) because we are using the "training" part of the URL to control access to the page. This isn't a physical location of the page.

AssetLab recommendations for organizing website pages:

  1. Design a menu that meets the needs of website visitors first
  2. Plan for pages based on the menu. Multiple menu items may link to a single page.
  3. Create the pages needed at the top level of the website physical structure (assetlabacademy.com/a-page-is-here)
  4. Use categories or tags to group pages together for display on a Blog page or some other listing

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