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Re: Site maps


From: Robinson, Norman B - Washington, DC
Date: Mar 25, 2005 7:19AM

Debate is good! Passionate, heated debate with respectful consideration
of others is better!

I don't have a guideline for you, but I do have an opinion! :)

1. Lacking structure and organization a sitemap might reflect that very
same disorganization.
2. The sitemap shouldn't only follow the exact outline structure of the
site, it could also provide some indexing and/or cross-reference
function that allows the users to find what they need.

Consider the following outline structure as representing your
sitemap, listed by hierarchy index, name, & category:

1.0.0, A, INFO
1.1.0, D, MEDIA
2.0.0, B, INFO
2.1.0, E, MEDIA
2.2.0, F, MEDIA
2.3.0, G, PRINT
2.3.1, J, INFO
2.3.2, I, MEDIA
2.4.0, H, INFO
3.0.0, C, CONTACT
<option to sort by: default (physical), alphabetical, last
updated, upcoming events, category>

where your actual web site could be represented by:

3.0.0, C, CONTACT
2.3.0, G, PRINT
2.3.1, J, INFO
2.3.2, I, MEDIA
1.0.0, A, INFO
1.1.0, D, MEDIA
2.4.0, H, INFO
2.0.0, B, INFO
2.1.0, E, MEDIA
2.2.0, F, MEDIA

Besides the fact that organization helps in understanding
content (I'm sure some real information architects could speak on this
subject) and moral support that organization of the website you
reference would help everyone, did the current sitemap reflect an
attempt to communicate something that isn't obvious? Date of posting?
Perceived importance? Frequency of use?

You start to address that with the options to sort your sitemap.
I think the expectation is defaulted to file-structure style layout
(tree hierarchy) but *I* think being able to sort the content would
increase usability. Sort by last update, most used, upcoming events, or
by user's preference.

The other thing I would like to mention is the navigation. On
the sitemap, *I* find that eliminating most of the navigation menus is
important. The navigation menus on the left and right are 'at odds' with
the main content (the 'definitive' navigation expected by the user in
this instance). I don't think having a skipnav to main content is all
that helpful. I think sitemaps are 'special' from the main site
structure (that is, they shouldn't necessarily carry any navigation or
branding because the rest of the web site is templated that way) in a
similar way I view search results - give me what I *need* and nothing
else. It is a FUNCTION not just generic information.


Norman Robinson

-----Original Message-----
From: glenda [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2005 3:12 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: [WebAIM] Site maps

I am probably igniting another heated debate by posting this question.
Oh well. Does anyone have guidelines are designing a site map?

I am auditing a site, which, personally, is lacking structure and
organization. I am recommending that, when a redesign is being
considered, the site map [http://www.s4dac.org/site.html] be redone
first to provide the necessary structure. From there pages can be moved
or deleted.

I envision a site map as an outline, composed of nested lists, showing
the hierarchy of pages. I understand there's also the alphabetizedl and
categorized approaches. I am interested in hearing others' comments, so
that I can prepare myself in case I'm the one doing the redesign.


Glenda Watson Hyatt, Principal
Soaring Eagle Communications
Accessible websites. Accessible content. Accessible solutions.

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