The ideal website structure

Alex

MD developer
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The more websites I make and even the regular ones I visit, I can't help but see a pattern in how the structure of the site is laid out. I think it is worth examining here because we are in an era where in most cases just offering a blog isn't enough, and conversely building a website where every page is designed differently is just a usability and management nightmare.

I will have more examples to show after this week as I have been working on some really cool site designs this week, but using the MD site as an example we can see the flow of content goes like:

Front page/product information
- Custom landing page template

Blog archives
- Holds blog posts
- Also creates category archives pages

Dropin archives
- Holds single dropin pages

Documentation archives
- Holds docs articles
- Sorts by category
- Part of the "Support" tab but not necessarily binded to it

Forums
- The main hub for conversation about all website information

...and these are just a few sections on the site.

When you're first starting out you generally don't have a lot of content so your site exists as an archive of pages that don't have much clear relation to them. But as your site grows with content you will start to notice patterns and relationships between content that can help you start to see the bigger picture for what you're doing. It is imperative to then organize your site in the best way to make this content findable in an intuitive way, and that is why we tend to focus more on content design systems with MD rather than merely giving you endless design templates for you to put together in no real cohesive way.

My questions for you is how do you use websites? Do you strictly go there for the information you need at the time, or do you browse around for more information? When you see an information dense website like MD, are you encouraged to go deep into the archives or do you just see a lot of noise?
 

lovefightwrite

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alextucker.ca
Personally I'll spend a lot more time on a site that has properly designed hubs than I will on one that makes information difficult to find. One thing I really like (which I'm going to add to my site once I switch themes) are helpful navigation popups. I've visited a few sites recently that have short "popup quizzes" with multiple steps which quickly determine what information is most relevant to you, and then link you to either a pillar article or their hub on the most relevant topic.

I think that's part of the future of good user experience... whether you use a chatbot, a quiz funnel, or popups with conditional logic, interactive software that sends visitors to your most valuable pages is probably one of the best ways to increase time on page and page visits per session.
 
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