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Sitemaps And Wireframes

When it comes to web development, it can feel like there’s a lot of terminology to learn. For example, do you know the difference between sitemaps and wireframes? If you don’t, never fear: we’ll take you through both of these tools and why they’re so important for developing a website.

What Is a Sitemap

Think of a sitemap as a website blueprint: a diagram or flowchart that depicts the hierarchy of each website component and the paths between them. For example, a vertical sitemap might start with “Home” at the very top, then branch out into a lower tier of pages like About, Services, Contact Us, Pricing, and more. Each of these page categories will then break down further—an “About” page might split into separate sub-pages like Our Staff, Our History, Careers, and so on.

What Is a Wireframe

If a sitemap offers a blueprint for what content your website will contain, a wireframe offers a blueprint for how that content will look on a page or group of pages. Wireframes are essentially mock-ups: simple design schematics that visually represent the arrangement of content on a page. A wireframe typically uses gray boxes and minimal text—often placeholder text like the lorem ipsum—to show where different types of content, such as copy, videos, pictures, and buttons, will go.

Why Are Sitemaps and Wireframes Important?

The goal of any website is to be both functional and visually appealing to users. As essential tools for UX—how users will actually experience your site—sitemaps and wireframes help you achieve both aspects of this goal.

A sitemap allows you to assess the site’s overall organization, structure, and navigation. You want to start with a sitemap to identify any points of confusion for users trying to get around your site, as well as to pinpoint any gaps in content.

Then, use a wireframe to evaluate the design functionality of each page. Wireframes also help gauge how page design may affect your content; for instance, if you see that only a small space is blocked out for a blurb or caption, you’ll know approximately how short its copy should be.

The Bottom Line

Although sitemaps and wireframes are different, both are critical to the web development process. Both allow us to make changes, give feedback, and spot problems to the foundation of the site before delving into content and graphic creation.

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Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.