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Searchable directory that provides information about minority-owned Businesses, Organizations and Resources. This article further develops the excellent Automating Diagrams with Visio by Michael Angeles.
Sitemaps are common deliverables, desired by clients who want a visual representation of a site. Use these lazy techniques and spend your time on better and more interesting problems than lining up little boxes!
I’ve chosen these three options because they use standard applications that store the sitemap data in a format that can be edited by non-IAs.
This approach uses the import data feature of Visio 2000 (Note that this feature has been removed in Visio 2003) and (mis)uses the “Organization Chart Wizard” from Visio 2003. Step 8: Ignore the Custom Property fields (though you might be able to think of some use for the other fields in some interesting way). Sitemaps can be useful tools and are a whole lot easier when you separate the data from the visualization.
I would also like to comment on another amazing diagramming application called OmniGraffle Pro from OmniGroup.
I have to agree with Gordon on his comment that using Excel by itself is a great way to display a sitemap. I find that Excel gives me the flexibility that I need to create detailed sitemaps using basic Excel features (color, font sizes, adjusting column width, row height, hiding grid lines, shading, lines, boxes, etc.).
Multiple worksheets allow you to have sitemaps for different audiences if you need to convey different experiences for different user groups (think customer, administrator, etc.).
I’d be happy to post an example of an Excel sitemap if someone can tell me how to attach a file to this site. I have named the pages a, b, and c but a meaningful names like Home and EmailVerification can also be used. Has anyone else experienced a problem where the org chart import process jumbles up your items, e.g. When imported to visio, you end up having your sub items shown in the wrong order left to right. Beyond that one particular example courtesy of Jon, anyone else know of some good Excel site map templates?
Jon~ I’m the fifth person to request, if you could, a copy of your Excel spreadsheet. Jon, I guess you are sick of this request by now – but an email of your Excel version to natasha at 8bits dot com dot au would be greatly appreciated. I need to review the IA Institute contact form because I am not sure if your submission was received. In the mean time, I forwarded the template to those of you who have provided your email addresses.
There is an excellent technique on OG Pro that beats all of the above techniques for simplicity. I actually created an excel template which allows you to paste as many levels deep as needed (I’m a part time Developer part time Usability Analyst) so I tinkered around with VBA and created a macro which would do so. Second, for all of you who have requested a copy of the Excel spreadsheet, please accept my apologies for not getting back to you individually.


Please… If people will send me the excel files they would like to share, I will add them to the end of this article so all can get them.
I tried exploring this out with one of the busiest site i have designed, checking out the probability of any user exploring the sitemap link.
According to me a sitemap has to morph into something better than hierarchial list put together in rectangle boxes.
Better late than never, but the file is now available here to download, at the end of the article. I am trying to create a sitemap, flowmaps, and wireframe diagrams using Visio 2003 and Intuitect (a visio plug-in). And for those who were recommending excel sheets, if the website is really big, it will be very difficult as well.
Tried to create an auto sitemap using the above Visio 2003 method but came across a couple of issues.
Perhaps you could email the version with Macros and maybe put it online with a link on this article. Secondly, we had some duplicate names in the site map but the orgchart wizard doesnt allow duplicates. Has anyone posted or devloped an Excel document to use this method with 5 levels for Visio 2003? Like all those before me, I’m looking for the modified excel that supports more than a 2 level site. I’ve found an excellent program that produces nice looking, plus easily customisable site maps from an excel spreadsheet. This software is designed to produce HR organistional charts but works very well with sitemaps. What we have above is basically a three level deep sitemap – Investing (child) is under FAQs (child) is under Insurance (child) is under Your Money (parent) who is also parent to Affiliate Program (child). Super Bonus: If you have the ability to get a database dump of all the pages on your site in this format, creating a visual map becomes pretty easy.
FYI: We have a pretty extensive site so I know this method works down to at least seven levels. LazySitemapGenerator (Turbek, I hope you are ok with this name) uses both Excel formulas and a single macro to produce a worksheet than can exported from Excel and imported into Visio. My website documents the procedure in 20 steps, includes screen shots, and contains a link the the .ZIP file you may download to try out on your own.
Stephen Turbek leads a user experience group at a major financial services company, helping clients manage complex problems to create efficient and enjoyable experiences for their users. Since they are rarely used to make decisions, information architects may not consider them the valuable tools they are. I suggest doing the exercise once with the sample file to get the hang of it, then editing that file to your needs. You store and manage the sitemap data (the list of links in a structured organization) in Microsoft Excel, save it as a text file, and import it into Visio for quick visualization.
To do so, you format the sitemap in Microsoft Word outline format, save it as a RTF document, import it into Inspiration, and modify the diagram to look like a sitemap. After you have done these steps a few times, you will be able to update a sitemap in under a minute. Easy to add other navigation oriented notation, such as footer links versus primary navigation.
I was reading the old article recently and wondering whether I had the time to figure out for myself how to do this in V2003.


So, for example, I’ll have a column for page summary, a column for recommended words of copy, a column for author, etc.
My collegues and I have evolved from doing sitemaps years ago in Powerpoint (using the org chart feature), to Visio, to Excel. While I’m a fan of simply using Excel, I have to say that mine are a bit utilitarian looking. They are sorely lacking in the site map department — it would be great to see another option, especially one that was created in Excel. It has been an absolutely crazy month at work and I didn’t take the time to email everyone individually in hopes that the file would soon be posted. I’m going to remove all the requests for files in order to make this page more readable, and to avoid spam harvesters getting this emails.
Probably the language has to change, maybe even using the term site – map has to change. While it is very noteworthy that Intuitech links the relationship and modelling of the sitemap down to the screen details (wireframe), for the life of me I find the intuitech plug-in difficult to use. Unfortunately (like some of the earlier guys) couldn’t make it work for my 5 level site. The second column (Title) should contain the names of all the pages to be included in your sitemap.
The effort required to make and maintain them requires time that might be better used elsewhere.
The Excel spreadsheet has been written to do some semi-fancy calculations to let you store your data on the import sheet in a nice format and to output Visio-readable data on the output sheet. The outline format can also be created directly in Inspiration, but storing the data in Word allows you to better collaborate with coworkers and clients.
In conjunction with OmniOutliner (very similar to the Outline Mode for MS Word) you can import directly into OmniGraffle to make sitemap diagrams. It does seem that putting the effort in to making an Excel sitemap look decent is a better solution to the problem discussed in this article. I am currently using Visio 2002; I tried using the technique described for 2000 and got a converter error. Is there a way to adapt this so when the Visio map is built it uses the stencil list that we created? In fact, I would suggest that making sure the little boxes line up is a waste of an IA’s mental abilities. Unfortunately, this approach requires maintaining a spreadsheet in addition to maintaining the visual sitemap.
The generated HTML needs to be tidied into clean-living XHTML but otherwise the link map is good to go.
Best of all, it uses the correct icons for each MIME type, so folders look like folders, HTML pages use your default editor’s icon, PDFs look like PDFs, etc.
And after brainstorming with my cube mate John, we came up with a solution that allows us to build a site map that can go beyond two levels. The org chart wizard doesn’t give a lot of options as far as when the finished product looks like.



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