Help us prevent broken links on the University website

Duncan Stephen
Friday 6 May 2011

One of the most frequent problems with content on the University website is broken links. Frustratingly, many of these broken links are perfectly avoidable. With a bit of extra care, content owners can take one simple step to help prevent broken links.

The problem with hard-coded links

If you are familiar with HTML and are used to hand-coding your own webpages, you may feel most comfortable using hard-coded links, where the URL of the destination page is defined in the code. This method works.

This is also the type of link created if you use the ‘Insert/edit link’ button in the editor in T4 Site Manager.

Hard-coded link button on the TinyMCE interface

However, over time these links begin to break. As pages are moved, edited or deleted, URLs are liable to change. So if you have a hard-coded link, it will have to be manually fixed — or there will be broken links on the website.

For this reason, this sort of link is reserved for external links only, or for links to items not within T4 Site Manager.

Section links in TerminalFour Site Manager

To avoid this problem, you can use the ‘section link’ feature within T4 Site Manager.

Section link button on the TinyMCE interface

Clicking this button will display a pop-up window that displays the structure of the University website. From here you can select the page you wish to link to.

This creates a special piece of code that is used by Site Manager to automatically generate the link. So, if the page that you link to gets moved to a different location, the link automatically updates across the website.

If section links were used for all internal links within the University website, we could significantly reduce the amount of broken links and links to outdated content.

Media Library documents

It is even more vitally important that hard-coded links to documents in the Media Library such as Word documents or PDFs are avoided. Linking directly to the URL of a document may work in the short run, but in the medium to long term it significantly increases the risk of linking to outdated documents.

The correct way of linking to an item in the Media Library is to use the ‘Insert Media’ button.

Insert media button on the TinyMCE interface

With your help, using this method can significantly reduce the number of broken links across the website.

Related topics

Share this story

Leave a reply

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.