Make Recurring Webpage Items Easy to Update

Everyone could use some extra time right?  One of the biggest time consuming maintenance activities on a website is having to update something on every page of your site.  Depending on the change, it’s usually a cut and paste exercise but wouldn’t it be great to change it once and have that change appear across the site?  It’s a life saver for large sites but even small and medium sites can benefit from that.  When building or modifying a site identify every recurring feature and ensure it is up-datable from a single source.

There are several ways of doing this.  The most common is a server side include.  Rather than discussing the technical aspects let’s focus on common recurring elements that can benefit from includes.

  • Primary Navigation – It should be on every page and is an obvious beneficiary of using includes.  Further more it ensures consistent navigation
  • Secondary Navigation – Secondary levels can also benefit from includes and also ensures consistency.
  • Headers – If there is any advanced header that’s more than just an image (though that too can benefit from being an SSI element) it’s a good candidate.  In some cases it can be combined with the primary navigation depending on the layout.
  • Footer – The footer should be consistent and this is especially useful if a copyright or general notice that runs throughout the site is in the footer
  • Promotional Section – Any recurring area in the layout that highlights a current promotion.  This typically needs to be carefully planned as the promotion can get monotonous on every page.  If the layout and content are effective though, this is a simple way to ensure attention to current offers.

Don’t waste time.  Identify every recurring element in your site and set it up as a single source update.  Not only does it save maintenance time, it often holds site owners accountable to consistency.


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