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Most site maps fail to convey multiple levels of the site's information architecture. In usability tests, users often overlook site maps or can't find them. Complexity is also a problem: a map should be a map, not a navigational challenge of its own.

Users go to site maps if they are lost, frustrated, or looking for specific details on a crowded site. A site map's main benefit is to give users an overview of the site's areas in a single glance by dedicating an entire page to a visualization of the information architecture. If designed well, this overview can include several levels of hierarchy, and yet not get so big that users lose their ability to grasp the map as a whole.

One of our hypertext usability principles is to visualize the structure of the information space to help users understand where they can go. On today's Web, site maps are a common approach to facilitating navigation. Unfortunately, they are often not very successful at it.

Site maps must become more aware of users' website navigation, indicating not only their current location, but also site sections that they've already visited. Site maps that use textual links and standard link colors already offer a simple version of the latter feature, changing the color of links to visited pages.

Let AQABA enhance your site map.

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I wanted to take a moment to write and let you know just how pleased and happy I am with the great results AQABA Search Engine Marketing has done for us here at

-- Rachna Pradhan

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