Why You Need a Sitemap When Redesigning Your Website

When build a new website or even re-designing an existing website, it can be tempting to start with designing the look and feel. Maybe the home page first. Then the rest of the pages.

But that’s a big mistake.

I can say without a doubt some website projects haven’t taken the time to setup the foundation for success. What’s that you ask?

A sitemap, of course! 🙂

Think of a sitemap as a simple spreadsheet listing all the pages you want to include on your site, how those pages fit in the website navigation (e.g. the “hierarchy”) and which designs should be applied to those pages.

Developing a sitemap is one of the best practices to adopt when giving your digital presence a new look.

Much of what makes a website redesign successful happens during the development of a sitemap. From ensuring a simple and intuitive user interface to getting on-page SEO right to streamlining the conversion funnel. A sitemap is the foundation to a successful website redesign.

Are you redesigning your website and wondering whether it’s worth taking the time to create a sitemap for the redesign? What’s the purpose of a sitemap during a website redesign? Read on to discover how using a sitemap can set up your new website design for success.

11 Reasons to Use a Sitemap When Redesigning Your Website

1. To Clarify Your Vision and Goals for the Site Redesign

Sure, you already know why you’re redesigning your website. You want a better looking website that accurately represents your brand. You want it to rank high on search engine results pages, attract lots of visitors, and convert them into sales. But this is only a general idea of what you’re looking to achieve with a redesign.

It’s only by sitting down and mapping out the vision that you can flesh out the details. You will also get to visualize the website structure and functionality before you hand over the work to your web designer and developer.

Besides getting a clear vision of the site structure in your mind, you will get to clarify what you want from the website and how to achieve it. For example, you’ll get to figure out the following details:

  • What kind of information, products, and services will the new website offer?
  • How will this information be presented on the website?
  • What user segments are you targeting with the new website?
  • What website strategies should you use to achieve the goals and objectives you’ve in mind?
  • How will each part of the website support your goals?

2. To Avoid The Risk of Following a Design-First Approach

There’s no denying that seeing the new website design come to life is the most exciting part of redesigning a website. It’s, therefore, no surprise that putting content before design is one of the hardest things for web designers to do.

But putting the design first is one of the biggest mistake you can make with a site redesign. Successful webmasters understand that content always comes first. It’s the content that should dictate the direction your redesign should take. The design should only serve to enhance the message you wish to deliver.

Trying to fit content into an already designed website just doesn’t work. You’ll either have to go back and make changes to the design or end up with poor quality content and website organization. Preparing a sitemap can save you from the frustration of investing in a redesign only to end up with a poorly-organized and non-performing website.

3. To Plan Your Content Strategy and Refine Your Information Architecture

In order to craft an effective sitemap, you need a solid information architecture. The information architecture, is in turn, the foundation for a successful website redesign. It defines the types of content and other elements to include on the website.

Drawing a sitemap clarifies what content brings value to the target audience. You can see how all the pages fit together and figure out how to organize the content in a logical manner. As you plan and organize the content, you get to fine-tune your information architecture and set your website redesign for success.

4. To Achieve Simplicity in Design and Navigation

Keeping it simple is the rule of thumb when it comes to website design. Surfers are impatient and put off by complicated websites that overwhelm them. They prefer following a simple and straightforward process.

And there’s no better way to spot and eliminate complexity than by preparing a sitemap. The use of a sitemap also makes websites easier to navigate. Let’s take a look at the different ways a sitemap can make your site focused and effortless to browse:

  • By defining the hierarchy between pages and how the pages are interrelated, you can map your website to ensure the content flows logically
  • You get to identify and eliminate unnecessary steps and parts
  • It helps you identify and remove duplicate content

5. To Identify Potential Challenges and Plan Ahead

When you’re redesigning your business and offerings, you’re bound to face some roadblocks that can derail the redesign process. The best way to deal with the potential challenges is to plan and prepare ahead of time.

Being a roadmap to the new website design, a sitemap can help you identify potential challenges you might encounter. You can then plan ahead on how to tackle them.

6. To Ensure Everyone Involved is on the Same Page

A website redesign is a teamwork effort. Designers, developers, marketers, content creators, and project managers get to work together to implement the new website. However, all these parties have different goals and priorities.

So how to align the differing goals and ensure everyone working on the redesign is on the same page? By ensuring everyone has access to a sitemap of the redesign. Here are all the ways following a sitemap makes it easier for the team to work together.

  • A sitemap is a centralized planning tool that acts as a visual guide for the whole team
  • By looking at it, everyone involved in the project can understand how the redesigned website will come together
  • As the project progresses, it offers a way to track what’s been completed, what’s in progress, and what’s yet to be done
  • It helps designers focus the design on the content the website should present
  • It simplifies communication between the developers and the other stakeholders
  • It makes it easy for designers, developers, marketers, and writers to collaborate and create a great site
  • Even the other stakeholders like end users will appreciate the outcome of following a well-thought-out sitemap

7. To Integrate Search Engine Optimization into the Redesign

A website redesign is a chance to improve search engine optimization. From creating a more organized structure to offering better content to fixing poor internal linking, fine-tuning your information architecture and building an easy-to-follow sitemap can help you maintain and even improve your site’s search engine ranking and traffic. So how does using a sitemap for a site redesign helps with SEO?

  • Submitting an XML sitemap once the redesign is complete tells the search engines about the new website structure and location of pages. It can also help expedite the discovery, crawling, and indexation of your redesigned site.
  • You get to figure out and plan the 301 redirects to avoid broken links on the revamped website. This step can help minimize the drop in ranking and organic search traffic if your URL structure has changed.  
  • You get to plan what keywords to target with each page on the new site.
  • It helps you create a clean and well organized website. Google and other search engines have an easier time crawling and indexing such a website.
  • You get to identify and correct poor internal linking. For example, you will discover broken links and remove or fix them.
  • The visual sitemap designed for readers also helps with internal linking.

8. To Create the Best User Experience

A simple, intuitive layout is one of the best outcomes of using a sitemap to develop your website’s hierarchy and determine the most logical structure. A sitemap is, therefore, necessary to build the best possible web experience for your website visitors.

Mapping out the presentation of your revamped website gives you an opportunity to visualize the user journey. You can then organize the website to offer a smooth and user-friendly navigation layout.

If creating the best possible experience for your users is one of your goals, you can’t afford to forego a sitemap. It’s the foundation for a well-organized and easy to navigate website.  Even search engine crawlers find a well-organized website structure easy to crawl, understand, and index.

When users can find what they are looking for easily, you’re one step closer to getting your most wanted response. Without a sitemap, you risk ending up with an unfocused and hard to navigate site with a high bounce rate.

9. To Streamline Your Conversion Funnel

Do you know the steps a user goes from a first time visitor on your website to signing up for your service or ordering a product?

Websites that convert have minimal number of steps in their conversion funnel. Faced with a long process, visitor easily get frustrated and exit the site.

Building a sitemap will help you figure out the ideal path a potential customer would take to go from visitor to customer. You can then determine how to optimize each and every step in the journey.

And optimizing the conversion process has a positive effect on the bottom line. The more effective your conversion funnel, the more revenue you’ll rake in.

10. To Expedite the Website Redesign Process

The process of redesigning a website can stretch for weeks or even months. If you want to expedite the process, have your new website completed sooner, and save money and resources, a sitemap is your best tool.

When you’ve taken the time to map out the site structure, your website redesign is bound to go faster. So how can preparing a sitemap help simplify and speed up the web redesign process?

  • Goals are achieved faster when the members of the team are all on the same page and their priorities aligned.
  • Preparing a sitemap goes a long way towards ensuring the redesign process goes as planned, with minimal hiccups to derail it.
  • A sitemap helps you improve the information architecture, which simplifies the design and development process.
  • Finally, a sitemap saves time by minimizing the number of revisions to the design. It helps you spot potential challenges early on so you can solve them.

11. To Realize the Goals and Objectives of Revamping the Website

A site redesign isn’t merely a revamp of the overall look of your website. It should make the entire site better by enhancing the design, the content, the flow, the functionality, and the sales.

Your website re-design should help your business make more money, right!?

When you base your redesign on a well thought out sitemap, you stand to reap the following benefits and enjoy great returns on your investment.

  • The website redesign process goes smoother and faster
  • The website looks good and offers a fantastic user experience
  • The search engine ranking and traffic is maintained or improved
  • The new site comes with a higher conversion rate and increased sales

That’s A Wrap!

Researching and planning effectively is the only surefire way to ensure a site redesign goes smoothly and achieves the desired goals. A sitemap is the foundation for a good website design. It’s essential to the successful planning and implementation of a site redesign.

However, the importance of a sitemap during a website redesign can be greatly underestimated. Redesigning a website without a sitemap is like remodeling a house without a plan. Without a sitemap, the project can turn into a disaster and the new site might end up worse than the old one. What good is an attractive website that is disconnected and complicated to use, poorly optimized for search engine rankings, and poor in converting leads info customers!

Taking the time to prepare a sitemap can help you build a well-organized and intuitive website that both users and search engines will love.

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