Discovery & Sitemap

Great websites are thoughtfully planned out, and the Discovery phase and Information Architecture (or site-mapping) are key.

These two steps, along with the Content Starter Pack, must be completed and approved before a website is created in the CMS. University Relations and IT Web Services assist UBCO teams through the following stages.


The minimum requirement for a Discovery phase is a completed project plan. This document outlines:

  • objectives of the site
  • key audiences
  • anticipated page layouts and/or components, and
  • an environmental scan (3-5 similar websites for ideas and inspiration).

A project plan template and a Google Analytics report of past behaviour (if available) will be provided to UBCO teams by University Relations.

In some cases, a more extensive Discovery phase could include focus groups, interviews, consultations or card-sorting exercises to help develop sitemaps.

Information Architecture (Sitemap)

To emphasize a consistent user experience, UBC Okanagan has established recommended sitemaps for academics websites (see the recommended Faculty sitemap and the recommended Department-School sitemap). Research and administrative sitemaps are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

University Relations will provide access to an online site-mapping tool to UBCO teams during this phase.

The following general principles are applied when creating sitemaps for UBC Okanagan websites:

  • Level 1 menus should be limited to a maximum of 4-6 items; these should be major content buckets that can accommodate multiple child pages. Labels should be somewhat broad, yet still descriptive.
  • Menus should be topic-based, rather than audience-based (eg. ‘Programs’ or ‘Admissions’ instead of ‘Prospective Students’; ‘Community Engagement’ instead of ‘Community’). This avoids duplication when content applies to multiple audiences. Topic-based labels and page names can help optimize content for search engines.
  • Menu choices below level 1 should normally be limited to a maximum of 5-7 choices.
  • Menu labels, page titles and slugs should normally match.