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How to Build a Text Outline for a New Website

When starting a new business website, you must balance everything you know about the target customers and their needs alongside the list of your business requirements and create an outline for the site. Sorting, categorizing and prioritizing information for your website outline is very helpful to your web developer.

After you have a prioritized list of user and business-driven content and features, translate them into an old-fashioned outline. This outline ultimately can function as a basic sitemap.

The key to producing a successful outline is your ability to group similar items and features together. As you become more familiar with the list of content and features, a pattern begins to emerge. Some items go together quite easily, whereas other ideas may not fit in at all.

Group ideas together.

Find features and content that seem similar and place them next to each other: Think of each entry within a group as one web page of content.

Limit the number of groups to 5–7: For usability reasons, identify no more than 5–7 main groups.

Limit the depth of each group to just two levels: Within each group, you will have a list of items. In some cases, you’ll have subcategories of a particular item. For usability reasons, limit yourself to just one additional level of subcategorization. If you get any deeper than this, and have subcategories of subcategories, you run into navigation design challenges.

Following is an example of two levels of depth within the About the Company group.
Notice the numbering scheme:


Group global features into their own set.

If the list of requirements contains tools like a member login or a search function, or mandated pages like privacy policy or terms of use, set them aside into a “Globals” group. Do not count this Globals group in the limited number of five to seven content groups. Tools and links to pages such as these will ultimately find a happy home either in the header or footer of your website.


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