Web Site Indexing: Sample Index
Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto
The FIS site index was created to provide a central point of access for users of the FIS Web site, in the traditional alphabetical back-of-the-book format - particularly appropriate for the former Faculty of Library and Information Science.
The Indexing Process
When I create a Web site index, I follow a set procedure to ensure that every indexable page is included and properly entered. Here's how it works:
- An alphabetical list template is set up - generally as a Word document first, although I sometimes work in HTML right away - with each letter of the alphabet entered from top to bottom. At this stage, the first entry is automatically "Home Page." A few other entries can also be made, using high-level site navigation elements as a guide. For the FIS Web site, these high-level entries included "About FIS" (inverted to appear as "FIS, About"), "People," "Programs," "Research," and "Resources." A main entry for contact links - which I usually word generically as "Contact Information" - can also be included at this stage.
- Each page of the Web site is visited, including all external pages accessible from the site.
- Each page and its URL (Uniform Resource Locator, or Web site address) are entered into the alphabetical list template. External links are identified, and any broken links are noted.
- Entries are inverted wherever appropriate so that the most important term appears first (e.g., "Alumni Association, FIS").
- Entries are posted in more than one place, if appropriate, to allow users to look up items under different terms. For example: "Dissertations (Completed)" is also posted as "Theses, Ph.D. (Completed)."
- "See" and "see also" references are added as necessary. For example: "Projects, Students - see Student Showcase."
- Entries are listed under their abbreviations or acronyms as appropriate, with "see" references. For example: "FISSC - see Student Council, FIS."
- Some entries are grouped together as subentries under a main entry that identifies their common theme. The main entry "Student Associations," for example, includes subentries for four such groups.
- Entries are formatted as hypertext links only where appropriate. The "umbrella" entries described immediately above, for example, are often presented in plain text because they serve to bring together a group of subentries that can be formatted as links.
- Links to each letter of the alphabet are added at the top, as well as "Back to Top" links for easier use.
- Finally, it sometimes helps to identify, and provide quick access to, the most important or most visited sections or pages of the site. For the FIS site index, I created a section called "Find it quickly!" to put these areas in plain view above the screen "fold."
I invite you to visit the FIS site index and to see whether your site would benefit from a similar alphabetical index. Such a systematic guide to site content - based on the same principles as the traditional, familiar back-of-the-book index - can only enhance your online presence, and will certainly help your users find what they're looking for.
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