RE: Website file structure

Subject: RE: Website file structure
From: "Paula Puffer" <pcosweb -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Thu, 09 Dec 1999 17:57:29 GMT

Barbara Stuhlemmer writes:

Can anyone provide some insight in to the best way to configure the file structure of a web site? ....

I don't think that there has been any clear answer and I think a lot of it comes down to personal perference. When I build a site, I look at the content that is already there and then look to see how it is grouped. For instance on the site I'm webmaster for, originally we had three different areas that offered various kinds of support (online and off). All of these areas were moved into one directory called PCOSupport because the information provided was serving one basic purpose -- offering support.

Is there an industry standard (if it's like anything else in our business, I highly doubt it) or guide to best performance? Suggested reading, web sites or other reference material appreciated.

I have the beginnings of my thesis reading list on my site. You can look at the books listed there at
(the thesis reading list is down towards the bottom).

Geoff Hart Responded to Barbara with:
Unless your audience and information are both identical to the one
on which some hypothetical standard is based, it's unlikely that
you'll find any published solution that is much use. Audience
analysis and usability testing of your assumptions based on that
analysis are the only sure way to develop a good solution.

to which I respond with:
I think Audience analysis is a crucial point. It not only lets you see the information you already have in the directory, it also lets you see where the gaps are.

Geoff gives several guidelines and I'll add one of my own.
Use height and width tags on any images. It allows the browser to
figure out the area of the graphic and leave space for it. This function allows the text to display while the graphic downloads. This allows your users to see if they are in right place.

Arlen Writes:
I think Siegel (he of the "Killer Web Sites" fame) suggested the first
"standardized" structure. It was very simplistic: home page at the root level of the site, all the HTML files in a directory called "HTML" and all the images and similar add-ins in the "ASSETS" directory....The drawback to this is that on a large site, maintenance can be a nightmare, it's very difficult to visualize the relationship between the files.

But there's a benefit to this as well: you may decide afteryou're into the project that your original navigation structure just won't cutit, and you need to rebuild it.

My experience has been it helps to know the relationship between files. I have a couple of areas on my site right now that have become the proverbial nightmare to maintain. All the information and images are lumped together into two directories and I have to scroll forever to get through everything if I am uploading etc.

Arlen also writes OTOH, if your physical structure is tied to thenavigational structure, then you'll have to move a lot of files around and change a lot of links.

This is exactly why I haven't altered the structure at this point in time. I don't want to fuss with moving a lot of HTML and image files to another directory.

Paula Puffer

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