UX Methods, UX Research



Sitemaps are a hierarchical diagram showing the structure of a website or application. They are used by User Experience Designers and Information Architects to define the taxonomy through the grouping of related content. They are an important step in the user-centered process as they ensure content is in places users would expect to find it. They can also be used as a reference point for wireframes, functional specifications and content maps. Sitemaps can provide such a visualization, offering a useful supplement to the primary navigation features on a website or intranet.


Sitemaps are normally used after completing persona and user journey work i.e. completed initial discovery period. They help you visualize what you have learned about how users will navigate the site, what sort of content they will need to support them in their goals and what sort of language they use to identify things. In addition, it also takes into account the business objectives and any content which is required by the business to fulfill their overall strategy.


A sitemap can be best created using card sorting both open and closed can be used depending on the requirement. The output of the card sorting can be used to create a structure for the sitemap. A sitemap is generally a fairly basic diagram. If the website has a particularly large amount of content you may wish to split the sitemap into several pages, showing one category per page with a top-level overview at the beginning. The homepage should start with reference number 1.0 and categories beneath it should increase numerically (e.g. the first category would be 2.0, the second 3.0 and so on). Content should follow this same pattern, with content beneath category 2.0 going in the format 2.1, 2.2 and so on. The sitemap should have few key attributes:

  • A homepage/home screen item at the top
  • A reference number for each item in the sitemap (This helps when creating wireframes or functional specifications)
  • A label for each item in the sitemap


  1. 1. They show how the navigation should be structured.
  2. They help identify where content will sit and what needs to be produced.
  3. They help show the relationship between different pages.
  4. They provide a structure upon which to begin estimates for development.
  5. They are the first tangible deliverable showing what you will be creating.


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