Is it common for corporate websites to have targeted, orphan pages when no other capabilities exist?
December 1, 2009 9:01 AM   Subscribe

Is it common (or even good practice) to use a corporate website to post targeted orphan pages because there isn't another solution?

Ready to scream. We treat our public facing, corporate site like junk. Our IT capabilities and platforms can't give us what we need or our password protected, internal site is such a @#$# that no one wants to use it. So they use our 3rd party hosted site to post everything and their brother with the excuse of "well we don't have options".

For example, they want to post a Flash Xmas card on the site as an orphan page. They say they can't do it as an ecard since we don't have a service (or that's their excuse). They can't use the internal site for some weird reason--I'm guessing they don't want to send a link and have someone type in their password to see it.

Where I came from (web agencies and a major credit card company), this was unheard of. Either you have the capabilities or you figure out another way. Our site gets 99% negative feedback from users. We can't get a redesign done since senior management doesn't get it. And this site is always "hey just post an orphan page" because they hate IT.

My manager says her company (small assoc) did this all the time. I worked on top brand sites (even if they were crappy) and we didn't do this.

Any good resources where I can show her that she's wrong? Her argument is if they don't have capabilities and it's temporary, who cares? My argument is "sure, keep degrading the site in the name of we can't upgrade our capabilities."
posted by stormpooper to Media & Arts (13 answers total)
This is less a question than a rant. I'm sure there will be sympathetic readers, but could you clarify what your actual question is? Is your question whether there's a problem having web-accessible files that aren't linked from a page? If so, that's not a problem, especially if it gets the job done.
posted by odinsdream at 9:03 AM on December 1, 2009

If you mean a page that isn't linked to the rest of the site, used for a special purpose like a Christmas card.... then yeah, that's a common practice.

Why do you hate orphans?
posted by rokusan at 9:27 AM on December 1, 2009

This is not uncommon, and while generally not a great idea, it's probably a really minor issue compared to a website that's 99%-disliked by your users.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:43 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, another vote for what exactly is the problem/question? Perhaps you can clarify what you mean by 'orphan' pages and why you think they're so bad/inappropriate for what they're being used for.

For example if you think its wrong to use an 'orphan' page for the christmas card, come up with a reasonable argument as to why you think its wrong and offer viable alternatives. I don't think you need to be backing it up with citations at this point.

Maybe this christmas card thing is just a bad example - personally I'm not seeing any functional difference between an 'orphan' page and an e-card (which for a flash card would just be a link to a page on a website)... unless your definition or orphan is different to the assumptions above (ie. that its a page that isn't linked to from anywhere else on the site)
posted by missmagenta at 9:48 AM on December 1, 2009

I've worked on several Fortune 500 projects. Six of one, half-dozen of the other. I doesn't matter either way if the info is not private.
posted by Mick at 9:51 AM on December 1, 2009

Also - if the site gets 99% negative feedback and management don't care then you're unlikely to win this one no matter how many studies and citations you can provide. They obviously don't value their website.
posted by missmagenta at 9:52 AM on December 1, 2009

Having worked with a number of different corporations, I would say that posting orphan pages and hating the IT department are both fairly common practices.
posted by ook at 9:55 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

The question is, is it a common practice to post things that have nothing to do with the public website, outside of the main navigation, just because you don't have options elsewhere (supposedly)?

In the past, we would never do this on a major website. We would either figure it out elsewhere (like an ecard) or do it via mail.

I went from a web agency world to a corporate, close-minded world with a 6 year difference. Lots have changed so I wanted to know if this is now common practice?
posted by stormpooper at 11:25 AM on December 1, 2009

I have worked in, around, with and for web agencies ever since there's been a web, and I can definitely say this: there's nothing wrong with pages outside of main navigation, and there's no reason you can't use corners of to do many things, including some that are not for everyone.

It sounds like you have a personal peeve and are trying to embellish it into some greater Wrong that does not exist.

Let it go.
posted by rokusan at 11:32 AM on December 1, 2009

Yes, it's common. No, there's nothing wrong with it.

Example: User at your company sends 5MB file to customer via e-mail. Customer's mail server rejects the file because they have a 4MB size limit. User at your company uploads the same file to the company site at, sends that link to the customer, and the customer downloads the file.

What's the problem in this scenario?
posted by odinsdream at 12:05 PM on December 1, 2009

Nothing wrong with this. Only thing potentially wrong with this is if you were somehow depending on the non-linkedness of it to keep it private. That would be stupid.
posted by juv3nal at 12:19 PM on December 1, 2009

The only way in which disconnected orphan pages "degrade" the main site is cases when the main site might benefit by those pages being visibly included in the site nav; that doesn't sound like it's the case here. (It's unclear from the wording of your question who the "they" is, or whether the intended recipients of the "christmas card" are in-house or external, but in any case it's a temporary one-off -- including it in the primary site navigation would actually be more of a disruption than handling it separately will be.)

Working around the IT department is also, unfortunately, fairly common. Sometimes that is because the IT department is inept, recalcitrant, or poor communicators; sometimes it's because the rest of the company is. I have no advice to offer on which of these may be the case in your company.

As for the negative user feedback etc: in my experience it's often the case that the larger the company, the more poorly-run and badly-designed the website; every separate department will have staked out their own little territory and it becomes more and more difficult to get them to cooperate on UI decisions that really should be site-wide. Even company-wide edicts from the top to sort it out in one massive redesign often devolve into departmental turf-and-budget wars. I certainly understand your frustration here, but would suggest that you try to focus it on issues that actually matter instead of trivial crap like temporary one-off pages.
posted by ook at 12:39 PM on December 1, 2009

We do it all the time for review purposes. In fact as soon and the video file I am currently working on finishes rendering (about another 15 minutes I think) I will throw it up on our web server in it's own folder and send out an email to the people in our company that need to take a look at it. We have no other real simple way of sharing large files like this as we are spread out all over the country and our mail server won't let us move large files around.

I agree this is no problem and is probably much more of a common practice than you seem to think.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 1:16 PM on December 1, 2009

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