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Web Principle #8: Single Source of Truth

Rebecca Giles -

Conflicting information on a website not only makes an organisation look disorganised and unreliable; it creates uncertainty and confusion, which may turn visitors away for good.

Audiences need be able to access a single source of truth that they can trust.

Check for existing content

Before new content is created, it is worth checking whether it (or something similar) already exists. In this instance, find a way to use the existing content so that when updates to the content are necessary, they are done in one place and by the relevant business area. For example:

Hyperlinking and creating redirects to existing assets

You can download step by step instructions on how to create hyperlinks and redirect pages from the Web Support Portal. Creating a redirect page will allow you to include a hyperlink to an existing page of content within the left-hand navigation of your site.

Note: This method will take users away from the content area that they are navigating in. If you think your user will benefit from staying in your content area but you want to refer them to existing content, keep reading.

Nesting content

Instead of duplicating the same content across multiple pages, you can nest an existing asset within your page content. This way, whenever the nested page is updated, the updates will automatically appear on your page.

An example of this is the Key Dates page. The asset has been created in the Current Students audience section and is nested in the Current Staff section. This ensures that whenever the Current Student content is updated, the key dates in the staff section will update as well.

Note: When nesting content make sure that the tone fits with your audience. Content written for students may not always be great to nest in the staff section of the site

nested content

Link assets to multiple locations

Single file assets such as images, PDF’s, Word Docs etc. can be linked to multiple locations. There is no need to re-upload files. If files are updated or overridden, the update will appear in all location links.


More tips

  • Well organised content reduces confusion, making it easier for audiences to find the information they need. Organise you content logically, using a hierarchical structure and appropriate headings.
  • Maintain your content. Out of date information makes an organisation look disorganised and unreliable. If you can find a way to utilise existing content, updates will be consistent across the site.


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