Planning the Site

In the planning stage of this process, we’ll be looking more closely at your current content and how it’s organized, and then assessing how the new site should be set up.

Building your Real Sitemap

We have the conceptual sitemap from the exploratory phase, and now you’ve taken a deep dive into what the site holds. Taking that information together, we can create a more detailed plan for how the site should be structured and what belongs where.

Creating the Sitemap

Take your preliminary sitemap, and the content audit. Now ask some questions:

  • Was there any thing the audit turned up that wasn’t accounted for in the concept sitemap?
    • If so, does it fit into one of your existing buckets?
      • If it doesn’t, are there enough pages like it to warrant a new bucket?
  • Is there anything that wasn’t on either document but should have been? (this is also called a Gap Analysis)

By collecting all the existing and needed pages, and determining what buckets they belong to, you will be building your sitemap.

What Should the Sitemap Look Like?

The working sitemap will be an extension of your audit document — a list of pages with information about them. This can include:

  • Page title
  • Site Section
    • What section of the navigation does the page belong to?
  • Parent page
    • Is this a subpage of a different section?
  • Location of current content (if applicable)
    • If there is a page on the current site that represents this content currently. This is both good for reference when writing content, and also is necessary to set up a redirect if the page title or url is going to change.

Page Title

Site Section

Parent Page

Current Location

Our Team




2014 Strategic Goals


Strategic Goals


This can be expanded to also track progress on developing content.

Reviewing and Testing your Sitemap

Once your sitemap is complete, it should be reviewed and tested.

Reviews can be done by those within your Program Office — especially upper management — as well as any other key stakeholders.

To test the sitemap, there are two different techniques:

  • Card Sorting: Users are presented with cards with the page-level titles on them, and are asked to sort them into categories and give those categories names. Those can be compared to the categories chosen by the team, to see if there are significant differences.
  • Tree Testing: Users are presented with a mockup of your site navigation. They are given scenarios and asked to navigate through the site to find where they think the information they need should live.

Ideally, testers should be from both inside and outside the agency. If the number is limited to nine non-federal employees or less, OMB approval is not required.

New Technical Requirements

Looking at the depths of your site and what’s currently there, it’s also a good time to determine if there are any new technical requirements.

Drupal is built to be flexible, but if any of your current or planned content requires particular functionality, it’ll need to be planned around and built into the new site.

The last two phases of the process — Creating Content and Building the Site — are the largest undertakings. This is where the house we’ve been building, which until now has been an idea and a sketch, starts to take shape.