My Marketing Thing

Briefing a web dude, Part 2 – site maps and splash pages

website site map cartoon

(OOOPS! published this post when it was still in the mixing bowl…apologies! Here’s the whole article. I’ve been told that even internet marketing demi-god Seth Godin sometimes makes email marketing mistakes.)


This post follows on – obviously – from ‘Briefing a web dude, Part 1‘. 

Note: This is the kind of post that inspires comments from people telling me all the things I’ve forgotten to advise…but were actually already mentioned in the previous post. It’s amazing how often this happens. 

Do you remember how, in the previous post, you asked me a question?

The question was: ‘What’s a site map?’

Not the fancy techo XML one that appears on your site at launch time. We are talking about the site map that you give the web dude as part of your website brief.

That is: a diagram showing what pages are to appear on your site and where each page flows from.


In the beginning…I was naive about the site map diagram

I thought the web dude discusses with you what you want then he/she draws up the site map diagram, then shows it to you at the next meeting. But increasingly this job is being palmed off to the client to do this. So it’s worth drawing up a site map diagram at quoting stage to help the whole process along.

The diagram can be quite simple if your site is relatively small.

An example of a site map diagram:

– Home

–  About
– About Megan
– About her madcap ways
– About why she smells weird
– About My Marketing Thing

–  Services
– Marketing plans
– Website strategies

–  Articles
– article 1
– article 2

– Contact us

– Privacy

– Site Map


So the first tier of information on your site diagram is ‘Home’. The second tier are the pages like ‘About’ and ‘Services’. The third tier are the pages like ‘About Megan’. The fourth tier is ‘About her madcap ways’ and ‘About why she smells weird’.

It’s usually advisable to stick to three tiers if you can. It makes for easier visitor navigation. Plus the search engine spiders (who track you for ranking purposes) apparently don’t go beyond three tiers.

The ‘Privacy’ page and ‘Site Map’ page are generally found at the bottom bar of your site – but that positioning need not be indicated on the site map diagram.

Your site map diagram should be used as a document for discussion during initial meetings with your web dude. From this point, your web dude might have some ideas on how you might like to improve the structure of your site and/or what to title your pages.

So, be prepared for your site map diagram to evolve.


A note about the Privacy Page

This page is generally about how the website handles the visitor’s information – particularly if they choose to subscribe to your e-news. As one example, here is the Privacy Page on my wordmix website.


About placeholders

While your website is being built you may want a placeholder page. That is, a page that has your logo, contact details, and says something like ‘this site is under construction’.

If you are interested in having a placeholder, it is worth asking – during the quoting process – what the web dude would charge for a placeholder.

Note: When I’ve referred to a pageholder a web builder has corrected me with ‘splash page’.  In other meetings, when I’ve called it a splash page, the web builder corrects me with ‘placeholder’.  From my experience, this is correction confusion amongst web builders is pretty much guaranteed.

Ask a cartoonist what a splash page is and they’ll tell you it’s a full page dedicated to one drawing in a comic book. They are very clear on this.

About splash screens or splash pages

A splash page (otherwise known as a ‘splash screen’) is a general introduction page before entering the actual website. Thankfully, they are used less and less because web builders are waking up the the fact that splash pages are annoying.

Talk about a dampener.

The splash screens that do hang in there – the splish with purpose – are the ones you see while the website is still loading. Sometimes a progress bar appears on the screen, letting you know how much time you have to go and make a cup of coffee or run to the toilet before the curtain goes up and website appears.

So it might be worth mentioning a splash screen to your web dude, even at quoting stage, if you think that your whole website is going to take awhile to download.


Part III of the ‘Briefing a Web Dude’ series is next….

This is a bit like the Rocky movies, I know. But, as promised, next post I’m going to give you a few key tips to website design that will also make life easier for web dudes. Well, those web dudes without control issues.


This post was written by Megan Hills.  Megan is a writer, cartoonist, marketing consultant and sometimes a little trigger-happy when it comes to the ‘Publish’ button on her blog post dashboard.  Find out more about Megan.

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One Comment

  1. Sara

    Thanks Megan – I'm thinking my website is sorely in need of an update as I type..!

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