Location, location, location!

One of the major shortcomings of both education and community websites tends to be a shuffling of locations. One week the address is tucked away on one part of the organisation’s server, the next it has been shunted to an even more obscure location. Many times such a change occurs even without a simple re-direct page being placed at the old address. The net result is a confusing and frustrating game of hide-and-seek for anyone wanting to use the site. For any potential visitors this is tantamount to putting up the back in five minutes sign and never returning.

A degree of consistency then is essential if one wishes to avoid anonymity online. If you don’t change your business address or phone number each month, why would you change your web or email address? Select the best you can afford. As soon as you can afford the best, move to it and stay there.

A few simple steps at the beginning of the process could ensure the long term success of your web presence.

  1. As soon as you are clear on the name or purpose of your project you should select an appropriate corresponding address. This should be an address that will stand the test of time.
  2. The site address should be as intuitive as possible. A newcomer should be able to have a fair chance at guessing the address with a minimal amount of information.
  3. If a change is ever required for financial or organisational reasons, a notice of the change should go onto the home page of the website a good deal of time in advance, followed by a concise redirection following the relocation.

Finally, a general principle should always be observed: guard your electronic real estate against all invaders, tyrants, web Nazis and bureaucrats. Your web location is your calling-card, information sheet, contact list and statement to the world. If you lose it, you lose your visibility.

March 2005
Laurence Brown

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