Sitemaps Made Simple: How to Outline the Pages in Your Website

January 13, 2015

Updated: September 25, 2019

In this post, I describe how to create a sitemap in Microsoft Word for your website. You may actually be looking for informational XML sitemaps and/or visual sitemaps, or how to submit a sitemap to search engines. If that’s the case, check out this post on the difference between the two, why you need them; you’ll also find some helpful resources for creating each one. Or this one, on how to create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google and Bing search engines.

I’m a word person and a visual learner, so when it comes to understanding how words are created websites, they tend to get a bit lost. If you’re like me, you’ll appreciate the tips and tricks that help make abstract ideas more concrete and tangible.

Planning a website can start as simple as writing a bulleted list of the types of of pages and information you want to include on your site. But since revisions to that plan are likely, I prefer to use a tool that allows me to easily add or remove elements and even change existing elements to accommodate my vision for the website.

Though you shouldn’t use Microsoft Word to create your company logo, the program is great for many other things, including creating a sitemap! Follow the instructions below to learn how to use Microsoft Word to plan your website content.

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Instructions for Creating a Sitemap in Word

Step 1: Open a new document Word

Please note that these instructions are for Microsoft Word 2013. Screen displays and layouts may vary depending on which version you are using.

Step 2: Navigate to the Insert tab and click SmartArt

From here a window like this will appear.

Step 3: Choose an Organization Chart Style

To design a website, It’s best to choose a in the Hierarchy category because it more accurately reflects the way websites are designed. Within this category, feel free to choose the style that you like best. Keep in mind that you can switch to a different style at any time if you find you don’t like the one you chose.

Step 4: Start Filling in the Chart

The next screen to the one you will be faced with is a graphic with automatic fills of [Text]. It should only be filled with the appropriate content.

Using the box on the left titled “Type your text here”, you can start typing the different titles of the pages of your website. The top row of the chart should include the words you’d like to see in the navigation bar of your website’s main home page. For example, a simple sitemap for MayeCreate.com might look like this:

Subpages, or the selection of pages that drop down from your main navigation, can be listed below your main page. The illustration above translates directly to the main navigation you’ll find on the MayeCreate website.

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A web designer could use this “family tree” when creating the separate pages within a website.

What could also be helpful for getting organized is to make a list of the information you would like to include on each page. This could be as verbose or vague as you like, but it will help you and your designer refine the page structure based on the information you want your website to present.

For example, earlier in our site we had “Web Design” and “Medium Design” pages. After a while we realized we didn’t need to separate the two and ended up combining them and including them on a more general Portfolio page.

Location of the homepage on the sitemap

Pay attention to the location of the home page in the navigation layout. Some people make the mistake of thinking that their website’s home page should be at the top of the graph and would create a sitemap like this:

However, the proper way to outline your site eninclude the home page at the top of the graphic with the other main navigation buttons. Having “Home” in the main navigation and on each page allows your visitors to easily return home or navigate to any of the other pages within the site from each page, regardless of which page they are currently viewing.

Ready to Meet with a Designer?

While it’s not absolutely necessary to have your website pages planned out this well before meeting with a web design company, creating a sitemap is an great way to help you. Visualize your website design and communicate the details of your vision to the designers. Any other ideas you can contribute will really help in the process of building the website.

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