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Site structure - now or later?
When you brief your web / graphic design agency – at what point in the process should you consider the site structure i.e. menus, navigation and content by page?
It is interesting that many clients want to see their brand developed FIRST with the graphic design coming soon after. They are then happy to consider the website structure at a later point. I think this is because this stage is exciting and motivational, as it gives meaning to the ‘idea’.
However, we believe that there are convincing reasons as to why you should consider your site structure at the EARLIEST stage possible.
The most important reason why you want to consider your website structure early on is because it is actually the articulation of your proposition. Your target audiences / key products / services / what you do / what you are known for / what makes you different – all influence how you will structure your site. This includes thinking about your main navigation menu, sub menus and any featured areas such as banners on the home page.
Only once you have considered these important issues – will you be able to write a really good creative brief which clearly expresses WHO you are targeting, WHAT you stand for, WHY people should believe you and WHO your competitors are. Your graphic designer will do a much better job if they understand all this and know how you want to express your offering and which aspects are most important.
Nowadays, websites are using two or more navigation systems. Perhaps there will be a top or side menu bar and in addition some featured areas (may be banners) for different products / services. There may also be a way to navigate by audience type or by the customers’ requirements. You’ll also need to think about how you incorporate your social media feeds, blogs, testimonials, case studies, shop etc. This makes it a bit more complicated at the design stage, but it provides better choice architecture for customers so they will engage with your site better and stay on page for longer.
There are some great free tools out there which help you structure your website called Wire Framing Tools
We also strongly recommend that you use a Creative Brief / Strategy document which once completed can prove invaluable to brief ALL creatives involved in the process including graphic designers, web developers, copywriters, photographers, PR and social media agencies.
So if you would like a hand pulling a Creatives Brief / Strategy together or you need help defining your proposition and website structure – just let us know.