You've picked your theme. Now what? Time to think about the bones of your site and the purpose behind it, aka architecture.
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Part 3 in the WordPress Basics Series: Architecture

First, apologies for being a month behind on the WordPress Basics series. Unavoidable technical difficulties.

Now that we are slowly getting back into the swing of things, time to move forward in our WordPress Basic series. We've already covered, "Why Choose WordPress" and what to look for in a theme. Now, it's time to talk about the very basics of the architecture of your website.

There are a lot of things you need to think about when setting up your website. It needs to not only make sense and be easy to navigate for the visitor, but it also needs to make sense to search engines. Thankfully, WordPress makes the search engine part of the equation much easier. You don't have to think too much about the relation of one page to another, and making sure everything is linked as it should be.

It's the visitor you need to think about. And not just, "Is it easy for the visitor to find the information they are looking for?" You also need to think about: "Is the visitor getting the information they need? What is the purpose of each page?"

Every page needs some sort of Mission Statement. But before you figure out the "what," you do need to figure out the "how will this be laid out?"

If you do an image search for "website architecture," you'll see a lot of images like the following:

You could so something like that, but it's not really necessary and doesn't give the full story. It doesn't really say where the main menu will be. It doesn't talk about how different blocks of content are going to be laid out to ensure it is just as functional on mobile as it is on desktop. And it doesn't talk about purpose.

This is why I prefer to do an architecture document. Not only does it layout, in sequential order, how everything should be built, including page structure, but it allows for notes on "Mission Statements." You can view a detailed example of an architecture document created for an ARG that Skookum Monkey sponsored. That linked example starts with mission and ends with structure. It's also based on Skookum Monkey theme that was developed and designed from scratch. It may be a little daunting.

Architecture documents don't always look the same. Some start off like the following, which is working from a premium theme, and then they get filled out with the more "purpose" after a lot of consultation with the client:

Use whatever method works best for you, as long as the end result answers the following questions:

  1. What pages does this site need?
  2. Is it easy for the visitor to find the information they are looking for? (This is part of what is called "user experience.")
  3. What is the purpose of each page?
  4. Is the visitor getting the information they need? Can I make this information more succinct? 

What All Sites Must Include

There are a number of things that all sites must include:
  1. About Page
  2. Contact Page (does not need to include a phone number. Email address, or email form is sufficient).
If you creating an eCommerce site, then you must also include information on the following:
  1. Shipping
  2. Returns
  3. Payment Methods
  4. Privacy Policy
WordPress automatically creates a "Site Map," so you don't need to worry about creating a second one. Also, most themes already include a '404 Error Page' that you can customize. If it doesn't, then you need to also create the 404 page.

And that is the basics of architecture. We haven't even addressed sidebar content. That will be discussed later in this series.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email and I'll be happy to talk about more than just the basic things to consider. In a future series, I can go into more details if there is enough interest. Just say the word!

Next up in the WordPress Basics series: Plugins.
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