The importance of deep linking

Flash can be a great tool, but not as the basis for an entire Web site. There are various reasons for this (e.g. requirement of special software just to view the basics), but the one I thought I’d mention today is deep linking, or lack thereof on a flash-based Web site.

For those not familiar with the terminology, deep linking means that when you link to something online, you link to it directly. That is, say I want to point people to a research article on my site. Instead of simply saying “go to eszter.com” and making them do all the work in finding the specific page of interest, I point them to the exact location of the page, e.g. http://eszter.com/research/a17-genderskills.html.

In fact, a big pet-peeve of mine is when people “help” you out in response to a query by sending you to a Web site that contains hundreds if not thousands of pages without pointing you to the specific location of the document of interest. That is hardly help, it is more like sending someone on a wild goose chase.

Unfortunately, on flash-based sites deep linking is not an option. So for example, there are some interesting videos on the Kompost Productions Web site at http://www.kompostnyc.com, but I can’t just point you to them, I have to give you additional instructions: click on Work then click on Doodle. How silly is that? Frankly, more often than not, I just don’t bother bookmarking such finds and certainly do not pass them along. In the end, it seems this would hurt the site in lost traffic.

Cite Bite takes the concept of deep linking to a next level by allowing you to link to a specific position on a Web page. Unfortunately, Cite Bite seems to be down as I write, which relates to a point I’ll be making in another post sometime.

5 Responses to “The importance of deep linking”

  1. Gabor Says:

    I agree with you about the importance of deep linking and what Engelbart used to call in-file addressibility. However the example you cited is not the best, because for Kompost’s Doodle, you could have just pointed to http://www.kompostnyc.com/doodle.html
    :-)

  2. eszter Says:

    Good point, Gábor. Since the site opens the specific movie in a new window and it’s not an embedded flash file, it is possible to give a URL. However, how about if I just wanted to point you to all of their movies?

  3. lisa Says:

    Agree, flash should only ever be a pretty addition to a URL-based website skeleton… I guess “allowing you to link to a specific position on a Web page” is already here since we have the

  4. lisa Says:

    why it cut off half my comment I do not know

  5. eszter Says:

    Lisa, I think it cut off your comment, because you introduced an HTML tag and it just read that as such. I saw what you said in the email, you were talking about the anchor text “a name”. I think the point of CiteBite is to allow you to link to specific text within a page of which you are NOT the author so you do not have the ability to add the anchor.