When I compare the usability of the highly graphical MAPA dynamic site map with that of a more traditional text-based table of contents, the traditional approach wins hands-down. You can scan the contents much faster and you don't need a fast connection or a Java-enabled browser.
I have always liked the idea of medieval mapmakers using the phrase "Here Be Dragons" to denote unexplored or dangerous territories. Sticking a fire-breathing reptile in documentation when you run out of facts? That’s panache. These days, people aren’t so stylish. When an information architect (or user experience designer) doesn’t have the time (or the talent) to document content requirements, they stick a "page stack" on their site map.
Sitemaps are common deliverables, desired by clients who want a visual representation of a site. Since they are rarely used to make decisions, information architects may not consider them the valuable tools they are. The effort required to make and maintain them requires time that might be better used elsewhere. In fact, I would suggest that making sure the little boxes line up is a waste of an IA's mental abilities.
A map-based approach to building a content inventory allows it to be a tool from the concept stages and throughout the life of the website. Patrick Walsh tells us why to use them, shows us how to create the maps, and how to leverage them over the long haul.
Web site maps are created by webmasters and content providers to help users navigate and search complex web sites. A variety of styles of map are used, many based on organisational charts. Presented here are some of the best examples from around the Web.
Site diagrams can be quite helpful in answering all kinds of hard questions. How to create the right diagram became a personal challenge for Jason Withrow. He shares his story through tips and techniques…
About how to use a sitemap on all of one's web pages. Includes some statistics, that you will see below, that encourage rethinking navigation on small web sites. A sitemap on every page is an interesting idea. I've only seen this done in a few cases, and usually it is not done well. However, Peter obviously spent some time working on his and he solicited feedback form users.
Sitemaps and site indexes are forms of supplemental navigation. They give users a way to navigate a site without having to use the global navigation. By providing a way to visualize and understand the layout and structure of the site, a sitemap can help a lost or confused user find her way.
The Web site map is one of the key tools that site designers can provide to help surfers successfully navigate through their site. However, the art and science of creating intuitive and useful Web site maps is still in its infancy.