Web content. Whatever happened to structure?

I could simply be getting grumpier. It’s likely. But I keep coming across the same bit of nonsense and I’m beginning to think that WordPress must be to blame.

I keep getting calls about from people who are having a new site built (and so need web content), but who have little or no idea what pages their site will have. Or how the pages will be organised. In fact, my distinct impression is that very many of them have no idea about anything at all about their new site, as the developer hasn’t yet told them.

A site needs a site map.

This is as true now as it was five years ago, a decade ago, and two decades ago.

Before you begin to build it, someone should work out what information the site will contain, and how this should best be grouped to help visitors to the site to use it. Even in an age of deep-linked web-content whose visitors arrive on superbly targeted pages precisely matching their search terms, how can it possibly be a good idea to have a developer start building a site for you without you even know what’s going into it?

And what kind of developer agrees to begin building a site without having discussed and agreed with his/her client what’s going into it?

I fear the answer is that it’s a WordPress developer. (Or a WordPress-minded developer, anyway.)

Don’t misunderstand me. I am as big a fan of WordPress as the next person. But it has encouraged the idea that planning a site need involve nothing more than loading WordPress, picking a Theme and starting to hit the ‘Add New Page’ button.

This results in the misunderstanding that a site is really just an ever-mounting pile of ‘Pages’, and that deciding how to group or relate these pages, and working out a homepage and other page templates so that these pages will be offered to visitors in a way most likely to get them to do whatever the site owner would like them to do, is a secondary concern to be dealt with later. Or never.

Come on, new website owners. Take responsibility for organising a site before you start commissioning web content. For I promise you that your web developer will not.