Websites today are more complex, sophisticated, and multifaceted than ever before. Whereas old-school websites had a “what you see is what you get” design where all relevant text and information was immediately visible, new sites are often stripped-down and even minimalistic.
The only way to make text or graphics appear—or to reveal personalized information—is by interacting with the page, whether that’s by scrolling, hovering, or mousing over elements, or entering values into fillable forms. While those advances make for more attractive, easier-to-use websites, they introduce challenges for businesses that need to archive their web content.
What do traditional archiving approaches miss with modern dynamic websites—and how can archiving solutions do better? That was the topic of Hanzo’s recent webinar, “Web Archiving for Compliance—Getting All of Your Dynamic Content.”
Here’s a quick rundown of what the webinar covered.
Challenges in Archiving Modern Dynamic Websites
Several elements of today’s websites make them difficult to archive with traditional static-capture solutions like screen captures or PDF captures.
- Dynamic content. If your website is like most, it uses video, interactive charts and graphs, and expandable fields to create visual interest. Those dynamic aspects make your website more fun for visitors to use, but they also make it more difficult to archive. You can’t just do a static screen grab and hope to get everything that’s baked into the page. A screenshot or PDF capture only shows one image—whatever was on the screen at the time of the capture—but there’s much more to your website than that one image. While many use screenshots to capture and demonstrate what was on a site, it’s an insufficient solution. The problem is you can’t reflect dynamic content, so you miss out on the entire page’s context and its functionality.
- Personalized customer journeys. Suppose a 50-year-old woman from Alaska clicks on your site, following a link from Forbes. At the exact moment, a 25-year-old man in Georgia gets to your site through an Instagram story. Will both of those people see the same navigation path with the same information? For many industries—especially the insurance industry, where geographic boundaries heavily influence offerings—the answer is a resounding no. Your site might have multiple versions depending on the details about a visitor’s location and personal characteristics. Does your archiving solution capture each of those permutations? When there’s no “typical” user experience of a website, you need to capture every variant, so you’re prepared for whatever a regulator asks to see.
- Advanced content management software (CMS). Do you use Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), Drupal, or SiteCore? These sophisticated CMS systems create gorgeous, heavily personalized websites, but they also introduce archiving challenges. To make them work, you must instruct legacy archiving solutions precisely where to go and what to archive. Your team must invest in some significant upkeep, creating and laboriously maintaining comprehensive site maps.
Otherwise, as your CMS adds new pages, your archiving solution will skip right past them, never realizing they’re there—and you’ll wind up with incomplete archives.
That brings us to another aspect of archiving that many vendors miss: the need for hands-on, human-based quality assurance. Without it, you run both the risk of not capturing all of your content and the chance of not realizing that your archives are incomplete.