Website Maintenance: Make an Index

Many times we get too close to our own websites.  We know right where everything is because we put it there.  The problem is that what makes sense to us, often doesn’t make sense to visitors.  An easy way to ensure that items of a similar type are easily found is to make an index page.  When a site has an index page for a single topic then it serves to be a single point of contact that visitors can use to find the individual thing they are looking for.

Recently I was reviewing a client’s website.  We were in the process of updating it to support marketing efforts.  My client was heavily involved in doing events designed to give a sampling of how they help companies which converts some of the attendees to customers.  In fact, this was such a large part of their marketing matrix that they ran an event every two weeks.

So we outlined which events were coming up and made a list of 6 events for the quarter.  I jumped on my client’s site to see how each event was promoted.  I found 2 of the events that were featured on the homepage.  However the other 4 were MIA.

So I called my client and asked whether the events had pages on the site.  He assured me the events were there and walked me through the navigation.  Two of the events were available through banner ads but the ads cycled so they were only available 25% of the time.  It turned out one event never had a link set to it.  The sixth one was available through a buried link on a calendar document.

I was a dedicated visitor and I needed a guide to find the events I knew were there.  How many unmotivated visitors that don’t know about the events do you think made it to the event pages?  As you’d expect, very few.

The solution, make an events index page.  We placed an events link on the primary navigation so that it was easy to find what was on the calendar regardless of where a visitor went in the site.  The index page provided a handy list to site visitors as well as my client so that there was a simple reference of upcoming events.  Furthermore, promotions could point to the index or the individual event page depending on what’s most appropriate.

It’s a simple thing but one that can be lost as a site grows.  Make sure that any important category of your site has an index page so that visitors can easily get to the information you want them to see.

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