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A Site Map is an outline of what information is included on your website. It covers the navigation options on the site and how they relate to each other. It can be pretty, designed in Illustrator, Visio, Inspiration or some other tool. Or it can be a simple bulleted list, designed in Microsoft Word. You may have heard the term 'Site Map'used in another context. A Site Map is also a list of links that you might see on some websites. A Site Map link is typically found in the footer of the website, but it may be in other locations as well.
Site Maps on the website are a great way for a search engine to visit and index your pages, so it's a good feature to include. That type of Site Map is the output of the Site Map you plan from the beginning with your client. The point of the Site Map is to think about all of the items required to put your site together. Some clients will want to give you a Site Map that they've developed, while other clients will want some assistance in developing it. You could just develop your Site Map on your own, guessing at what type of pages are best for this client.
You'll already have some ideas, having discussed the business strategy with the client, and you'll already know some types of technology you'll include, such as a blog, photo gallery, a Facebook link, and more, in the case of Hansel and Petal. Some clients will just start sending over content and they expect you to organize it when it arrives. That can work for a smaller site, but it doesn't work so well for a larger site. Ideally, you'll plan the content first then assign navigation links, based on what type of content you're expecting to get.
A great way to get buy in from the client is to use a Sticky Note exercise. Right down a bunch of ideas on Sticky Notes, then group them together, and give them titles.
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