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I'm managing the design and development of a microsite that will sit on a subdomain. It will only consist of 5 pages so is a sitemap needed? I would expect the answer is no, but wanted to know if people had any good practice guidelines.

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What sort of sitemap are you referring to? One that's prepared as part of the site IA documentation? One that's a link in the site to show the hierarchy or do you mean the sitemap.xml file itself? –  JonW Sep 30 '12 at 21:19
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5 Answers 5

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I would think no, not always needed. Particulars broken down by audience:

  • For the sake of the page builders, content creators: no, not needed for 5 pages. You would likely just list these out in other documentation (or be creating the pages yourself).
  • For the sake of the end users: no, it just becomes an extra link with little value, and is possibly confusing.
  • For SEO: I'm guessing it wouldn't hurt, but not sure of the value. As long as it's a sitemap.xml file, and not in the navigation to confuse users, that is.
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It's worthwhile creating a sitemap that's part of the IA documentation. You'll find that a microsite is always a few pages bigger than expected. This includes Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Response pages and Landing Pages if part of a campaign. It's also a useful negotiating tool if client has signed off on a project and wants to add more content.

As far as sitemap.xml is concerned, someone else will have to answer that question!

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I always include a sitemap, or a flow, for multi-screen projects. It seems like overkill, but you'd be surprised how often it forestalls objections from stakeholders or developers. –  RobC Oct 2 '12 at 18:29
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If you mean publishing a sitemap page for the users to use it, IMO it's only needed when the navigation is not clear enough.

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+1. I totally agree with this statement. If you think you have to add a sitemap to your site, it means you are doing something wrong. –  Bart Gijssens Oct 1 '12 at 8:00
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If the site structure is essentially flat and there is a link to every page from every other page (often the case with microsites that have no second level navigation) you probably don't need to provide users with a sitemap. The main navigation provides the same information.

If, however, there is a second level of hierarchy and those second level pages cannot be reached directly from every other page (i.e. you have to go to a particular section before you can see the sub-navigation for that section) there is often benefit in providing a sitemap from an accessibility point of view. A sitemap provides an alternative method of navigation (WCAG SC 2.4.5 requires multiple methods of navigation) and also gives a very useful overview of content and structure.

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I'd say, it depends:

For the first few of your microsites ever designed: yes.

For the rest: not necessarily.

The thing is that creating the sitemap for a five-page-long site takes less time than what you took in writing this question. If it was your 100th microsite, perhaps you wouldn't ask it on the first place.

You need to learn to do things properly first, then you can go the easy route, as otherwise, it's easy to underestimate each task. I usually tell youngsters that it's better to overshoot first than to underdeliver.

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