Web designers are always up to creating pages and experiences that delight the audience. They have many things to consider in pursuing this goal, especially designing a website for a particular or high-paying client. One of these things is the website structure.
Creating website structures includes both tackling its information architecture and its design layout.
What is Website Structure?
Website structure can be defined as the projection of a website’s layout to fill up all its informational space and provide intuitive access to its content. To create a website structure, you need to develop a systematic approach that provides proper navigation.
For instance, let’s say you run a store's retail business that sells albums and books. If all your books and albums are piled in one place, it will be difficult for your customers to find what they are looking for and buy it. They will have to go through every album or book on the shelf, searching for what they need. In the process, they are likely to get frustrated and leave your store without making a purchase. There is a very slim chance that they will ever come back. Why is that so?
They would instead go to a store where all the items are properly organized so that it’s easy for them to distinguish between different items and spot what they want. Customers prefer stores that are well categorized and organized. The same goes for your website visitors. People like to visit, browse through, and make purchases on websites with a proper website structure.
Website structure helps build an understandable, predictable and discoverable pattern on your web pages. A good structure facilitates the site’s visitors to find the information and products they are looking for. It provides consistency in user experience. Users feel satisfied when they know where to click next and go to the page or section they want to view next. They want to see a solid and relatable structure on any website they are interested in and want to keep visiting again and again. Therefore, a good website structure dramatically enhances the usability and user experience of the website. Many web designers can solve significant issues in their UI design by creating website structures that are professional and user-friendly.
If you want to catalog and group your website content in a neat and discoverable manner, it is essential to have a professional website structure. There are many different types of website structures that you can go for. You can typically choose between a top-down and a bottom-up approach in considering potential architectures. The best way for a web designer to choose the proper structure is to keep their client’s specific needs and business goals in mind.
1. Top-Down Approach
This approach focuses on structuring the general categories of the content first and then gradually breaking them up further into subcategories. It is more like the hierarchical structure described below.
2. Bottom-Up Approach
This website structure approach focuses on cataloging the overall content directly into its categories and subcategories. It first groups the elements into the lowest-level categories and then makes groups for the higher-level categories.
Is There an Ideal Website Structure?
UX designers are always looking for the most ideal website structure. There is no such thing as an ideal structure because different websites can have different types of website structures that suit them the most. It depends on your site’s objectives, scope, and in some cases, your budget for website development.
An ideal website structure can be seen as a pyramid. All websites must have several components to make the structure look complete and easy to navigate. Ideally, all websites should have a home page, categories, subcategories, and individual pages or posts.
1. Home Page
This is the top of the website structure pyramid. It serves as the hub or center for all site visitors. All the critical or popular web pages should be linked to this page. That gives your site visitors a better guide as to how to navigate.
Dividing the sections or pages into categories is valuable in creating website structures. If categorization is done well, the site visitors will find it easier to make decisions on the website.
The subcategories play a critical role in creating website structures. For example, giant eCommerce websites like Amazon and eBay have an overwhelmingly large number of pages. Users could easily get lost in all the information provided on these websites. That’s why the structures of these sites need to be built on and divided into subcategories. The subcategories give meaning to the website structure and browsing experience.
4. Individual Pages and Posts
These are the basic elements of any website. Web designers usually create a meaningful hierarchy for putting information on each page they make. The goal is to make it easier for users and site visitors to consume all the content you add to your pages.
There are a few different types of website structures. We are going to discuss four of them today. Having a clear understanding of website structure can help you identify and create the most meaningful and effective one for your own website.
1. Hierarchical Model
This is the most common among the different types of website structures. It is often used for creating websites that comprise a massive amount of data. This model is similar to a tree with many branches coming out of it. These branches are the categories on your website. Examples of websites that follow this hierarchical model include BBC.co.uk and CNN.com.
2. Sequential Model
This is a popular website structure that takes users through a step-by-step registration process or creating a new account. This model can be used for creating flows for any process. An example of the sequential model is the individual page structures on wikiHow.com.
This is one of the oldest website structures on the internet. This model is unique in its behavior. It gives users options to select where to go next. Websites built on the matrix model are best navigated via internal links or searches. A great example is Wikipedia.
4. Database Model
The database model gives a dynamic approach to web design and website structure. It uses the bottom-up approach to website building, whereby you consider a page’s metadata and adhere to solid information architecture. Medium.com is a good example of a website built on this model.
The Easiest Way to Create a Website Structure
Creating website structures from scratch was a headache of the past. These days, tools and platforms are available to provide you with ready-to-use website templates. This means you only have to select the website structure that suits you the most and start adding your content to the pages. The structure is already built and served to you in the form of ready-made templates.
For example, if you build a website on Strikingly, you will be taken to our template selection page after signing up. You can preview each template before choosing. Once you choose a template, you’ll be in the Strikingly editor. This is where you add your web content. You can type in any information you want to provide to the audience about your business. You can also upload images and add videos to make your content more appealing. Our drag-and-drop interface makes the process even simpler. You don’t have to write any code to build your website in this manner.
Strikingly is one of the fastest-growing website building platforms, focusing on providing a smooth web development experience to all our users. We come with new updates and tools regularly to facilitate our users in running their websites. Our templates are divided into different categories so that it is easy for you to choose one that’s the most relevant to you. For example, if you want to create a blog, you can select one of our blog templates. If you want to build an online store to sell your products directly on the homepage, you can go with one of our store templates.
Image taken from Strikingly
We also have more straightforward templates that give you a straightforward website structure. If you just want a website to showcase your business and create its basic presence on the internet, you can select one of these. Your choice would depend on the purpose of your website, the scope or range of functions you want it to have, and the scalability that you plan for it as you grow your business. We believe in the scalability of companies and do our best to provide you with all the features and properties your website needs to grow.