Better locating of things that people need to know via the Web space

The redesign of the home page template will not materially affect the ability to find things at the university because the headings themselves are not changing. To improve ”locatability’ requires the application of a few modifications at the technical level (search engine collections, page tagging) and significant thinking and discovery around the things different audiences want to find.

What People Seek

  • Define questions and answers for various audiences, e.g., prospective students, faculty. the audiences defined on the exist home page top categories
  • Validate questions and answers with real people [usability and labelling studies]
  • Locate answers on existing pages

How to Help People Find What is Sought

  • Modify home page family labelling as required by user input
  • Define keyword tags for authoritative pages to assist search engines in presenting most authoritative information first
  • Develop Google Collections for important topic areas, e.g., graduate education
  • Locate and have authoritative pages updated with keyword tags to facilitate useful search results
  • Longer-term: Analyse paths to important information and services and determine optimal click routes, that is, for a specific set of questions build a path that minimises the number of clicks required to get there. For example, around convocation, providing information for parents about the ceremony, location of Convocation Hall, parking, getting extra tickets.
  • Provide page taxonomy to Web masters for use on their department�s pages.

Suggested Process

  • Define a specific area for locatability improvement.
  • Follow a process for identifying key questions and answers for an audience.
  • Implement the keywords and search engine changes.
  • See how much time is required and whether the process may be duplicated.

Background Note on Search Engine Process

Search engines look for popular pages; those with many links to the page and number of hits relative to other pages of a similar ilk.

Search priority: Page Title > Page Descriptive Text > Page Tags > Page Content

Written by Marden Paul, Director of Strategic Computing – University of Toronto