How to Choose the Right Structure for Your Websiteby Contributor
How to Choose the Right Structure for Your Website. There are three basic structures to Web sites: linear, tiered or webbed. Which one you use is largely determined by your intent. The basic principle of Web design is centered around one fact: People go online to search for information. How you design your Web site depends on the type and amount of content you have, plus how you intend for that content to be shared. So, which structure is right for you?
If you have one product to sell, you might just need a 1-page sales site. Make your site a linear Web site focused on selling that one product.
If your Web site is an instructional Web site that teaches people step-by-step how to do one thing, then all you need is a linear Web site.
If you have a long story, news or a narrative, then a linear web structure is probably the best structure for you.
You may also decide to use a linear structure for your web site, then later convert it to a tiered or webbed structure.
Remember, a linear web site is a web site where each page leads to another web page, so that there is a logical and linear progression of the information. There might be a fork in the structure, but then each leg of the fork will be linear in nature as well. Use a fork if your narrative or instruction offers your readers a choice. Forks may also converge.
A tiered Web site is a site that has many topics or several subtopics within an overall subject. Usually, there are 3 tiers but there could be more. 2 tiers is common but is relatively small. Most Web sites can survive on 3 tiers. If you have 20 topics and each topic branches into 10 subtopics, that will amount to 201 Web pages.
In a 3-tiered Web structure, your home page will link to all Tier 2 pages and each Tier 2 Web page will, in turn, link to several Tier 3 pages. Tier 3 pages generally do not link back to the home page, but they can if you want them to.
A tiered Web structure is easy to plan. You draw a diagram much like an organizational chart. At the top write the words, "Home Page." Draw a line from the home page to a box that you define as 2A. You can name it later. Draw another line to 2B, then to 2C, and so on. Each box represents a keyword or subject within your subject.
Next, draw a line from each Tier 2 page to other boxes labelled 3Aa, 3Ab, 3Ac; 3Ba, 3Bb, 3Bc; and so forth, where 3A boxes derive from 2A and 3B boxes derive from 2B and so on. Make a note as to what each box represents.
If you have a broad topic that can be written about easily in terms of its subparts, then this structure will likely be a good bet for you.
You should do some keyword research before you attempt this Web structure to ensure that there is enough material to support a tiered Web structure. If there is other information available on the topic and you have the time, determination and motivation to pursue it, go for it.
The webbed structure is a bit more complicated than either of the other two. However, many successful Web sites use this structure.
If you plan to build a membership site that allows users maximum flexibility in features and selections, like MySpace, eBay and directories, then this Web structure will work for you.
If your Web site is information-based and demands a lot of attention to cross-referencing, then a webbed structure is the best format. Examples include Wikipedia and dictionary Web sites.
If you are building a catalog Web site where customers will be able to go from one product "room" to another and build "shopping carts" with various types of products as they would in a department store (think Amazon.com), then a webbed structure is the best structure for your Web site.
Generally speaking, interactive Web sites are best suited for the Web structure.
- check Storyboard your Web site before you start building, no matter which structure you use.
- close Don't get in over your head. If you are new to building Web sites, stick with the linear structure until you figure out what you are doing, then go on to bigger and better things.