Last week, the update project took me into the main website folder where I scrutinized about 100 pages. Here’s what I found:
- Most pages were fine and needed no updates
- Some were test pages or experiments
- Some sported outdated content
- A few repeated information maintained in other sections of ITCS
- Four or five needed to be moved to other subsites with like content
- And—I hate to admit this—one page had a duplicate twin in another subsite. Exact information, two different names. Hum.
So once I had an idea of the content and navigation for the web folder, I came up with a refresh plan:
- Contact the owners of any experiment/test pages for permission to delete
- Charge student workers, Becky and Liz, with updating obsolete content
- Move content or entire pages to the appropriate web folder and create a REDIRECT (more on that in a bit)
- A REDIRECT was definitely in order for the “twins” (No. 6 above).
If you have a bit of clean up in your own website, here’s what you need to know about URL redirects.
URL (page) to URL (page)
This is appropriate if you need to delete a single page but don’t want users to get the dreaded 404 page. To do this, choose a different page as the target and then submit an IT service request that says: “Please redirect URL http://www.ecu.edu/cs-xxxx/xxxx/xxx.cfm [page to be deleted] to URL http://www.ecu.edu/cs-xxxx/xxxx/xxx.cfm” [different page]. Therefore, when someone navigates to the old URL, their browser automatically travels to the new page.
After the redirect is completed, the original page may be deleted.
URL (Folder) to URL (Folder)
This situation is not a page-to-page redirect but rather an entire web folder-to-web folder switch. For example, you may have decided to create a “development subsite” to contain all your new 960-wide pages.
First, send an IT Help Desk request to create the new subsite folder. Once you’ve recreated all you pages within the new subsite, send a second IT service request to have the new subsite replace the old subsite. Keep in mind that this may be a good time to retire old pages by simply taking them out of the new navigation scheme.
For a video tutorial on copying and pasting elements between pages, see the Tutorials page.
Long URL to Short URL
Some circumstances require that a subsite URL be shortened to make it easier for users to remember it. For example, The Help Desk website URL is really http://www.ecu.edu/cs-itcs/ithelpdesk/. But the URL has been shortened (and redirected) to http://help.ecu.edu.
When deciding if you need a redirect, remember that judicious use of the three options is a must—too many redirects are just as bad as the 404 page!
And while we’d all like for our sites to be finished once they’re created, the truth is they require frequent updating. A redirect is just one of the ways we keep our content refreshed and users happy.