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A Site Map is a Site Map, Silly  

:: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 ::

Who knew a site map could mean so many things?

To force me into the idea of relaxing and getting away from my computer, my husband found a great deal on a used, 14 year old motor home. I never knew I had it in me, but we’ve learned, from the moment I first clumsily stepped up into it and gazed at this little house on wheels, that I’m crazy about camping. (Not that camping with an RV counts as true camping. Roughing it in the woods with your own bathroom and microwave is a bit pathetic and fantastic at the same time.)

There are two reasons, okay, three reasons, why I’ve slowed down the pace of posting in this blog. The first reason is more companies are interested in hiring a usability person, so I’m working a lot. The second reason is that I’ve been fanatically and passionately “studying” Recreational Vehicle (RV) life and finding campgrounds for my family to escape to on weekends and our summer vacation. This is when I discovered a new meaning for the term “sitemap”. The third reason has to do with why my husband bought the RV. It was either that or bolt my office door to keep me out of it.

A site map on a campground web site has nothing to do with being an alternative to graphical navigation or being an easy page for search engine robots to crawl. Nor does it do anything for special needs visitors. Rather, a site map for a campground web site is a site map of the campground layout itself. This is how you can tell, before you arrive, where the showers are, heated swimming pool and if they have a 50 things for the kids to do so they don’t sit around complaining they’re bored.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I clicked on a link to a campground web site's "sitemap", only to get a large image of a real map with roads and buildings on it.

One Word. Two Syllables. Sounds like "Night Cap"

A sitemap can also mean something else. I’m part of a small team that is designing a medical web site. The project manager uses the term “site map” when referring to everything from a wireframe to discussing the information architecture to designing templates. This had me confused until I gave up my attachment to my personal definition and now I just nod and smile and hope I understand what he’s talking about.

I have seen web sites link to sitemaps that are beautiful graphical presentations of the web site, but do little to get anyone somewhere quickly (because of the pretty pictures. Who would want to leave?) I have seen site maps that are nothing more than a carbon copy of the left side navigation, with no categories or subcategories, so you only get (as you would on any other page) a view of the top level of the site.

Who Cares about a Boring Sitemap?

I love the site map on my UsabiltyEffect.com site. It’s starting to get too long, but I had wanted to make it organized and interesting. Sitemaps can be terribly boring. Why do that to someone who was kind enough to visit your web site? Hand them a beer or low fat granola bar and show them your house.

Folks have come to Cre8asiteforums in search of the sitemap holy grail. Below are some fascinating discussions on web site sitemaps – not campground layouts.

Sitemap Advice

Sitemap Ideas

Nielsen Site Map Usability Report

:: posted by Kim Krause Berg on 5/18/2005 01:06:00 PM

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