Usability, Content Management

How to Handle Reorganization and Redirection: Dependency Tags

dependency tagsThe only constant in life, it is said, is change. That goes many times over for websites! If incremental changes to your site are not happening almost constantly, then not only are you not taking full advantage of your investment in the OU Campus CMS, but you are not taking advantage of one of the most important features of the web: instantly providing your visitors with the most current information available.

A huge challenge you will face as your website continues to organically change and grow is that sometimes things need to be moved around. You may decide to reorganize pages into a more search engine-friendly folder structure, for example. You may need to rename some of your digital assets, such as image files or PDFs. Or you may retool some of your site navigation as you discover that duplicate pages have inadvertently been created and need to be consolidated. When you make changes like these, you want to make sure that both your site visitors and the search engines can still find all of the information you’ve made available, wherever it has been moved.

Your first order of business is to use dependency tags in every possible situation. Dependency tags are placeholders that you use in your pages—they are links to pages or files, not links to URLs. Let’s say that you have an image file at this link:

http://www.example.com/my-image.jpg

For best practice purposes, you decide to move the jpeg file to:

http://www.example.com/images/my-image.jpg

If your web pages link directly to the top URL, when you move the file, the web pages that reference it will immediately contain a broken image. To fix this, you have to edit each of the pages that contains the image. If you use a dependency tag instead of the link, however, the image will always appear properly on the web page referencing it without an additional step to edit the web page. OU Campus will automatically update the references to the image and deliver the correct HTML to the browser. This comes in particularly handy if you use an image on multiple pages, or if you decide to move a large number of images all at once.

Another huge benefit of using dependency tags is that the link is also updated if you rename the target file. So if you changed my-image.jpg to our-image.jpg, the dependency tag would continue to ensure that the image is still available! All of your image links, page-to-page links, and links to other files such as PDF files need to be dependency tags. For more information about how to deploy dependency tags on your website, check out the OU Campus support site.


About the Blogger
After almost two decades of web development experience, Michael Jones returned to his alma mater, Oral Roberts University, where he now works as a website programmer and OU Campus user trainer. He lives in Bixby, Oklahoma, with his wife Cathy and two children, Mike and Hannah, and various furred and finned family members.
Michael Jones

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