Here’s a very nice article about website navigation from our partners over at Hannon Hill, the developers of our preferred content management system Cascade Server: Designing Your Navigation – Hannon Hill Corp.
I’ll also add a content matrix template that I use to record a site’s current and redesigned structure during the analysis phase of the project, before development begins. There are two tabs in the spreadsheet– one for “current site” and one for “redesigned site.” The redesigned site is pretty self-explanatory, but the current site information is often neglected in anticipation of starting the new project. While it may seem superfluous to annotate a site that will be redesigned, documenting the current site ensures that no sections are “lost” during the transition (note that unless the current site map is maintained dynamically, these are rarely kept up to date).
I have seen time and time again that the success of a redesign can often be determined in the first few weeks of a project by how carefully the site is cataloged in advance. As Kat notes so well in her article:
I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to map out the structure of your website prior to designing the navigation, especially if you are implementing one of the most powerful capabilities of a content management system, namely content reuse in the form of dynamic navigation.