Ultimate Guide for Website Sitemaps

Ultimate Guide for Website Sitemaps

If you’re not very familiar with how website development projects take place, then a “sitemap” may sound like a weird concept. The good news is that a sitemap is a fairly simple concept to understand.

As its name suggests, a sitemap is a map of your entire website’s architecture. It’s used commonly in development projects by designers, developers, and content creations to expedite the creation of copy and images.

Sitemaps aren’t just essential for development projects. They’re also vital for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. Below, you’ll learn all about sitemaps, why they’re important, and how you can create one for your upcoming project.

What is a Sitemap?

A sitemap is an outline of a website. It lists a bunch of details regarding how each website page is structured and how they overlap. When you peek at a sitemap, you’ll essentially look at the blueprint of a website.

It will list every website page, its connection with other pages, and its designations as either a main or subpage. Creating a sitemap is usually the first step in building a new website.

Sitemaps are designed typically by a website designer, which is reviewed and approved by software developers and project managers. Sometimes, a sitemap can be shown to the owner of the website for approval as well.

There are many different types of sitemaps, but only three are pertinent in this guide, which are:

  • Text Sitemaps — For small website development projects, or time-sensitive ones, designers will create a textual diagram of a website’s architecture. These are very simple to create and understand.
  • Code Sitemaps — These are HTML and XML sitemaps. These sitemaps are never used for development purposes because they contain scripting language. Code sitemaps are used by search engines, helping them to understand each page on your website for indexing purposes.
  • Visual Sitemaps — These sitemaps can be presented either as an image, drawing, or a video. It’s more dimension than a text sitemap and is used commonly for non-developers, such as content creators and clients.

Depending on your preference and type of website project, you’re free to use any of these sitemaps. However, creating one isn’t an optional task as you’ll soon find out below.

Why are Sitemaps Important?

Why are Sitemaps Important?

Creating a sitemap is necessary to improve the performance and collaboration of website development projects. When a sitemap is created, designers can view it to style every web page similarly.

This will help them better create a mockup, which is a much more dimensional image of a live website. After this, developers will view a sitemap as a checklist for bringing a mockup to life with code.

Developers will lean on copywriters to create the text that goes on each website. Clients and project managers will also review the sitemap to make sure the website is being built according to plan and very specific requirements.

Sitemaps are not only important during a website development project, but they’re also essential after the project has been completed. After a project’s completion, it’s important to remember that websites don’t automatically rank well on search engines like Google and Bing.

They’ll need to be manually imputed into a search console, which will send robots to crawl a website and index the pages. Developers must rely on code sitemaps, usually in XML format, to submit a website to begin the indexing process.

Without this process, all previous work is done in vain. Sitemaps are great visual aids in development projects. They are also visual aids for search engine robots that don’t have eyes to see a website the way people can.

Who Uses Sitemaps?

Sitemaps are used frequently throughout the website development project by numerous collaborators. Below, you’ll find out exactly who uses sitemaps to complete their tasks:

  • Designers — Designers are the people responsible for structuring the visual aspects of a website. They rely on sitemaps to guide them through the process of designing each website page. In fact, their mockup is a more realistic version of the sitemap.
  • Developers — Developers are the people that transform the mockup of a website into a live version using code or scripting languages like HTML, CSS, and more. They rely on sitemaps as a guide for creating each website page. They’ll also use the mockup to achieve this purpose as well.
  • Content Creators — Copywriters are the people who create the text, or copy, that goes on every website page. In order to stay on track, they will review a sitemap. Sometimes, their sitemaps will include notes on how many words each website needs, keywords to use, etc.
  • Project Managers — A project manager will review a sitemap to make sure the project is on course.
  • Clients — Clients may request to see the sitemap if they are heavily involved in their website’s construction.

Tips for Creating the Perfect Sitemap

Tips for Creating the Perfect Sitemap

Fortunately, creating a sitemap isn’t difficult. In fact, anyone can do it without any design or development skills. Below are some helpful tips to guide you through the process of creating the perfect sitemap:

  • Ask for Help — Don’t exclude other collaborators from the process. Ask developers and copywriters to contribute to create a sitemap everyone can use.
  • Request Client Feedback — If possible, you should also reach out to the client to see if they’re satisfied with the sitemap’s format. It’s the client’s project, so this step is important.
  • Use Design Tools — There are so many online tools to help you create text, visual, and code sitemaps. This makes the process so much easier.

Are You Starting a New Website Project?

While sitemaps are important and the first step of any website, these projects are more extensive than you can imagine. If you don’t have the staff and resources, navigating a website project can be challenging.

At Dev.co, we specialize in creating world-class websites for all kinds of industries. We would love to understand your upcoming project. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today to speak to a member of our team.

Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations--delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.
Connect with Ryan on Linkedin.
Ryan Nead