Plan Site Structure
Ok, so we’re finally at the point where you can start to put a “shape” to your portal. We’re going to be making some architectural “maps”. Basically, these will just be visual representations of everything you’ve done so far. Just like blueprints for a house, these maps will enable you to simply look at the pre-work you’ve done and start building what you planned out.
It’s helpful to do this with all or part of your Portal Committee, so call a meeting, break out the sticky notes, whiteboard, markers, or whatever you need. My personal preference, if you have the materials, is to use a projector and some sort of Software mapping program. There are a few good ones on the market, and even though I have no affiliation with them (yet), I’ll give a quick plug to my favorites. J
Some Helpful Mapping Software:
- Microsoft Visio – Of course, Microsoft has something we can use. If you haven’t used Visio before, it can be a little tricky, but it’s pretty much like the other Microsoft Office applications. So, if you’re familiar with them, you should be able to run with Visio.
- MindJet MindMap – This is a great mind mapping (brainstorming) application for a variety of uses. They have several versions available. (I use this for EVERYTHING). MindMap is available for:
- MatchWare – MindView3 BE (business edition) is similar to MindJet. It also integrates with many of the Microsoft Office Applications.
Whether you choose one of these programs above, or decide to use a whiteboard, paper, or sticky notes, it’s time to get this stuff documented!!
Map out Site Collections:
The first map will be more of an “org chart” style map. It’s for your Site Collections. You’ve already determined what would be included in each Site Collection (sites, sub-sites, and pages). Go ahead an build them out in a chart. You can do one diagram per Site Collection, or put them all in one Site Collection (as in my example image).
Map out Landing Pages:
This map will compliment the wireframe drawing you did in previous exercises. It will “fill in the blanks” of your wireframe. In other words, your wireframe acts as the page layout, and other lists provide the WebParts that will go in each square of the wireframe.
The map example takes this concept a step further and details all of the sub-components, features, and other items that will appear in the actual WebParts for your Landing Page layouts.
If it sounds confusing (because I’m doing this at 1am), then it may help you to visualize this concept by viewing my example Landing Page Map.
Create a Map for each Landing Page you will have.
Map out Team Sites:
The Team Site map will be exactly like the Landing Pages map above. You can even use the same sample as your guide. Team sites may have some of the same content as the landing page. They may even look “similar” (you want there to be a few visual clues that you’re not on a parent landing page). However, there will be some WebParts on your Team Sites that are different than what is found on the Parent Landing Page sites. You should already have wireframes prepared for your Team Sites at this point, as well.
Create a Map for each Team Site you will have (on all landing pages, and within all Site Collections).
Site Structure / Navigation Maps:
To round out your mapping exercises, you’ll want to create 1-2 additional maps. You should document your physical site structure and/or your site navigation structure. There are times when this could be mapped out as one and the same. However, there are a number of reasons why these would be separate maps.
For starters, your Taxonomy Policy may dictate that certain content belongs “nested” below other, specific content. However, your navigation may not reflect this physical hierarchy. If that’s the case, you’ll need two maps: one for your physical site hierarchy, and another for your navigational structure. Remember the conversation we had about “Clickers and Searchers”?
You can use the “Org Chart” style maps to do this if you like. Additionally, if you think you need a better example than that, which applies to Physical Site Structure vs. Navigation specifically, just let me know. Submit a comment to this post if you want me to upload a sample of either (or both) of these map type and I’ll be happy to oblige.