What Is a Hierarchical Website?

Written by meg north
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What Is a Hierarchical Website?
Website hierarchical structure is based on a pyramid shape. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

For its most broad definition, a hierarchical website organises the website's information from the general to the specific. The hierarchy model determines the website's structure. A website site map is an example of a hierarchical structure, with the Home page at the top and the various main sections and submenus listed beneath. A typical hierarchical website has four parts: the Home page, main section pages, subsection pages and content pages.

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Home Page

The Home page is the first page where the website visitors land when they type the website URL. In a hierarchical website, the Home page contains the most general information about the website, including an overview, mission statement and links that lead website visitors to other pages on the site.

Main Sections

The main sections of a hierarchical website are accessible by the Home page and display either alphabetically or by popularity. For example, common main sections include About, Products, Contact, FAQ and Links. Each of these main sections will have plenty of links to other pages throughout the website, along with links to other websites. Main section web pages often appear listed in a navigation bar that may display vertically along the left-hand side of the window or horizontally beneath the header.


Subsections link to each of the main sections and contain more specific information. Subsections usually list alphabetically for easier navigation by website visitors. Websites with vast amounts of information, such as wikis or encyclopedia-type sites, can have numerous subsections. Subsections also exist on retail websites to classify products into different categories.

Content Pages

Content pages contain the most specific information on the website. They are linked to subsection pages, main section pages and the Home page as well. Content pages usually contain the most amount of text and often have an article-type layout. They rely heavily on keywords and sometimes contain a bibliography at the end of the page for fact-checking. The hierarchical structure of the website determines the number of content pages.

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