Hints and tips for organising your website
When you first create your website it only has two pages, the home page and a news page.
As you start to develop it, you'll probably add further pages. To make sure your site remains easy for visitors to use (and also easy for you to run!) you'll find it helpful to organise your pages into a structure (or hierarchy). This is normally done by dividing your site into sections and then adding any new pages to the appropriate section.
What are the advantages of organising my website?
The main advantage is that it makes your site easier for visitors to use.
If you divide your content into sections, you can choose to display just the sections in the navigation menu on the left of your site. This is much clearer than listing all of your pages.
How do I organise my site?
How you decide to divide your site will depend on its content and how you think your visitors will want to see it.
For example, if you had a website about fruit, you could decide to divide it into separate sections, one for each type of fruit (apples, bananas, pears etc). Alternatively, you could divide it into sections about different aspects of fruit such as growing fruit, buying fruit, cooking fruit and so on.
If any of the sections contain a lot of pages, you can divide them into further sub-sections. In the example above, if your fruit website had an apples section with a lot of pages in it, you could divide it into sub-sections for green apples, red apples, cooking apples and so on.
We suggest organising your site in three steps; planning, testing and implementing.
You can start planning with just a pen and paper:
- Create a list of the pages or subjects that you think you are likely to add to your site.
- Once you have made the list, see if you can sort the items on it into groups (the exact number of groups will vary but 6-8 would be about right for most sites). These will be your main sections and normally you'd display these in your navigation menu.
- If any of the sections have a lot of pages in them, see if they can be subdivided.
- Drawing the structure of your site on paper is a good way to visualise it. It allows you to quickly add, move or delete sections as you work. You can draw the site in a similar style to a family tree. You don't need to include every page when you draw it - that would usually be too complicated. Just the main sections and subsections will normally be fine.
If you drew the fruit website example above on paper, it might look like this:
Before you spend a lot of time organising your site, it's a good idea to try out your structure on friends or colleagues. This allows you to check how well your site design works and tweak it if necessary. Again, you can do this with just pen and paper.
- Give your testers your list of main sections and ask them to tell you which one they would look in for a particular item of information (in the fruit website example above, you might ask them which section they would look in for an apple pie recipe). Try this with a range of information from different parts of your site.
- If they are not sure where something should be, or if they get it wrong, you might need to adjust either the names of your sections or their contents (or sometimes both!). Try testing again after you have made changes to see if they are an improvement.
- You can also ask your testers to describe to you what they would expect to be in each section - this is good way of finding out things that you might have forgotten to include!
Setting it up on your site
Now comes the part where you actually make the changes to your site!
- Open your home page for editing.
- Click the edit or index tabs.
- Click the create item button.
- Select Page or Folder from the drop down menu and the click the Go button.
- Edit and save the new page/folder as normal. If you want it to appear in your site's navigation menu (you probably do) make sure you click Yes to the question Include in navigation menu?
Repeat this for each of your sections.
In the fruit website example above, the pages would look like this in your admin site map:
You can then add or move pages to the sections. To add a page repeat the process above but for the first step choose the appropriate section page or folder instead of the home page. To move a page:
- Open the page (or folder /news story) that you want to move.
- Click the cut button.
- Open the page (or folder /news story) that you want the item to be placed underneath
- Click the paste item here button.
(Note: if you move a page, you may also need to update any links leading to that page as well so the link points to it's new location rather than the old one.)
This is how the admin site map would look for the fruit website example after adding pages to a section:
If you want these pages to appear in the navigation menu, make sure to click Yes to the question Include in navigation menu? for each page. The SurreyCommunity.info system can show up to two levels of sub-items in the navigation menu (or one level if you are using the Dark Tones, Playtime, Modern or Bootstrap themes).
For the fruit website example above, if all the pages were set to be included in the navigation menu, the menu might look like this on the site (the exact appearance will vary depending on the theme that is used):