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build your blog

step 2: planning

by JuliannaKunstler.com

How to start a web site (blog) from scratch for beginners. Tutorial, links, steps, and worksheets. Planning the site's structure: site map and content. Free to use.

Before you jump online to buy your domain name and web-hosting to build your site, you need a plan.

Whether you are going to use WordPress or any other online site-building platform, even if you are going to do it by coding, this step is the most crucial for your future success.

An organized site structure with a clear simple menu is the most vital part of your website’s user experience. Good website structure also means a good user experience. When site navigation makes logical sense, people are more easily able to find what they’re looking for and more likely to return.

  • what is the purpose of your site?
  • who is your main audience?
  • what is the best way to organize your content for a better user experience?

in this section:

  • site structure
  • site map
  • planning pages

site structure

Hierarchy of site pages (or site structure) is the blueprint of your site.

Some pages require links to more pages - like the Classes page. You will need a link to each class you teach, and then even further - links to units and to lesson plans.

Some pages, like Contact, contain all the information you want to share and do not require more pages under them.

site map planning

If your blog is not about teaching - you will still use the same hyerarchy structure. So instead of :

  • All Classes > Class > Unit > Lesson

You can use something like this for a travel blog:

  • Country > City > Places to see > Attraction details and images
planning a blog, home page menu

You will obviously start with your home page. Home page is the "front door" or "grand entrance" of the entire site. It does not like clutter. This is where you make the most impact on the user.

You main paths are your Main Menu links.

In this example: Classes, Resources, and Contact pages.

Quick tip:

As a user enters your home page, there should be clear and logical paths to take. Everything that can be grouped, should be grouped - your classes, your resources, your portfolio, etc.

Classes page is going to be the hardest working page of your site. It is a "site hub" where most visitors will come before choosing a specific class.

Each class will have more pages linked beneath them: units and individual lessons.

Plan out all units you want to use in your curriculum. You do not need to have a full list of lessons yet if you are, like me, constantly adding more projects and assignments. But try to have a clear picture of the main units in your curriculum.

By the way, YOU are IN CHARGE of the site, so if you want to break your curriculum into months, grading periods, or art technique and medium (like in my Exploring Art class) - do it! You do not need to use my unit structure (like in my Art-1 class).

site map worksheet

I like to sketch out the site map. You can use my worksheet or you can do it digitally as long as you have a clear vision of your page hierarchy.

If you need more upper level pages - just print another page.

site map worksheet

Plan each top level page with all links and content ideas. If you do not write the brainstormed ideas down- you can forget them (like it happened to me a few times... or more)

You can edit each page later, but you need to have a general concept of each top level page.

You can use worksheet 2 for brainstorming and sketching.

site map examples

website map planning
site planning

planning pages

main pages

planning a blog, home page menu

Home page

Decide on whether you want your home page to be a static page or a dynamic.

Static page holds your content as is. It does not change unless you change it.

Dynamic page shows all updates and new posts (lessons) that you upload.

You can also have a benefit of both: use static page setting with a "Recent posts" widget that you can customize to show your latest lessons or presentations.

site map worksheet

Level 1 pages

The first decision you have to make is what type of page is going to be each top level page (static or dynamic).

I recommend:

Classes page should be a dynamic page as it will serve as a "hub" (or category) for all courses, units, and lessons.

Resources page can be either one - it depends on whether you will be adding more resources on a regular basis. If this is something that you plan on updating and have your Home page reflect that - choose dynamic option.

Contact page (or About page) is most likely a static page. How often do really change this info?

art classes navigation

In addition to the classes links you might want to include such information as:

classroom rules

due date policy

information for parents

Art club or other activities schedule

a link to your school website

classes, units & lessons

web page structure and content

Levels 2 - 4 pages

Decide what information you want to include in your class pages in addition to units and lesson plans.

You can include:

Class syllabus


Calendar and due dates


Keep the order of these information blocks consistent in all pages.

class page design

Start taking pictures of projects and lesson steps. Keep them organized in folders to use when you need them.

You will need a lot of them!

class page content

Do not forget about links to worksheets and handouts.

lesson page content

lesson posts

Think of a common information that you want to include in your individual lesson plans:

Learning objectives


History introduction or reference

Gallery / Examples

Printable worksheets and handouts



You will need to follow the same pattern (order) of these information blocks in all lessons. Keeping everything consistent throughout the site makes it easier to navigate.

art classes