Web Directory Structures

Chuck Munson cm150 at umail.umd.edu
Tue Mar 29 15:32:12 EST 1994

lHassett wrote:
>      I have a question for all of you regarding the best way to
>      organize directory structures of a multi-paged web site.

A good question! Let me share some insights from my experience as the 
"technical webmaster" for the University of Maryland at College Park 
Libraries web site.

Tip #1: Plan ahead!

>      We are nearly ready to put our Library web site up for the
>      public.  I have made the directory structure as follows:
>      About  (hours, mission, policies, location, etc.)
>      Collections  (holdings descriptions, arrangements, etc.)
>      Services  (ILL, Reference, Circulation, etc.)
>      Searchable Resources  (catalogs, databases, Internet, etc.)
>      All files are in these four directories.  (should we have
>      one just for our graphics?)

How big is your library? Do you have multiple branches? Special 
collections? You need to think ahead about where most of your future 
content will be coming from. Bear in mind that things will change that you 
haven't anticipated.

At College Park, our directory structure looks like this:

UMCP -- |    \-IMG
and so on ..

The PUB directory is our general depository of upper level pages, the main 
home pages, general library policies, and library hours. The MCK directory 
is for the main graduate library (McKeldin) and it contains its home page 
and other informational pages. The GUIDES subdirectory is where the 
reference staff put their marked-up library guides (bibliographies, etc.)

Then we have directories for branch libraries (HBK, ART, ARCH, CHEM, and 
EPSL) and directories for special collections (not indicated here).

Some of our special collections like the Broadcast Pioneers Library have 
subdirectories for sound and image files. Special attention must be paid 
to the structure of a site for special collections. Content can snowball 
for this part of a web site.

Every one of these directories has an IMG subdirectory, where all the GIFS 
and JPEGS are stored.

Why did we break things down by library and collection? We are using this 
software program called Web Spinner (developed on the UMCP campus) which 
allows us to administer the site with very little interference from the 
systems staff. It allows library staff who have pages, images, and other 
content to put their materials on the site via a web browser (in this case 
Netscape). They call up a page, enter their name and password in a form, 
send the information to log in, and then they get a page with a list of 
directories they have access to and a menu bar which allows them to create 
a new html file, paste in text from an editor, edit an existing file, move 
images from an FTP directory, delete files, and so on. This allows us to 
decentralize the work required in moving files around and updating data.

The directory structure of the site allows us to grant access to a 
directory or directories to an individual, without having to give them 
access to our UNIX server.

>      When our site goes up, it will be moved to the main
>      University server.  We have just been informed that at that
>      time all of our files will need to be in one directory.

Can that "one directory" have subdirectories? You'll need subdirectories 
in order to efficiently manage your site. Even if it is small, it will 
grow and grow!

>      What do you all think about so many pages being all in one
>      directory?  Could you give me some feedback on the pro's and
>      con's of this arrangement?  Of course it has a big impact on
>      the structure of the internal page links.  Any other reasons
>      why one way would be better than the other?

Having all of your pages in one directory can lead to headaches down the 
road. One of which includes difficulties in FTPing files onto your 
site--you don't want to waste time waiting for your FTP client's screen to 
redraw as it lists several hundred HTML and GIF file names.

Make a good structure now so you don't have to spend hours changing links 
later. If you one day decide to move all those GIFs into their own 
directory, you'll have to go into all of your pages and edit.

I'd suggest talking to the sysadmin of the server to find out what their 
restrictions really are.

>      I appreciate very much the feedback from this group.  So
>      many of you are doing really wonderful things.
>      Thanks in advance for your help.
>      Leslie Hassett, Reference Librarian
>      Loma Linda University
>      lhassett at dwebb.llu.edu

Good luck. Have fun!

Chuck Munson
Technical webmaster
UMCP Libraries Web Board

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