Hierarchical Web Site Structure

We’ve dealt with small sites, now lets consider larger sites. There are a lot of ecommerce sites about selling hundreds and even thousands of products. Most have a hierarchical navigation system where the home page links to the most important department type pages (listing multiple products) which then link to individual products.

You might have a site with 30 department pages (linked from every page of the site via the menu) each listing ~20 products each, which then links to those 20 individual product pages. With this example we’d have roughly a 600 page website. The above would be a very good structure for that type of site, not an excessive number of links per page and those very important department pages get 600 links each since every page links to them. But how far can this model be stretched, how many pages? It depends on numerous factors including the sites design/look, how many department type pages there are how many products there are. Take a look at The Business Software Bin which sells Amazon business software (it’s an affiliate site). The menu on the left has about 50 links on it. Take a look at a department page like e-Commerce Software or Web Browsers and you can see it lists 10 products and the left menu isn’t longer than the list of products (it looks OK). So for this site 50 department links from every page works. We have sites using the same design with over 70 links on the menu (others have less than 50), beyond that and it doesn’t look so good! Other sites will be limited by their design and so you might not be able to get the number of links on the menu you’d like or you might have a really large site with hundreds of department type pages. In these cases you’ll need to build smaller webs of pages. so lets look at a an enormous site like Amazon. Amazon has millions of products for sale over tens of thousands of what we are calling department pages. There is no way it could have all the department pages on one menu!! What Amazon has done instead is break it’s inventory up into related sections (31 of them currently). Each section is like a site in itself with a link to the main 31 sections. So there’s a Book section, Software section etc… By breaking the site up this way they have been able to keep the basic hierarchical navigation structure for each section where the main page links to the important department pages which in turn link to deep product pages.

 Keep hard work


Rohit Mehra


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