Saying goodbye to Quick Links

The time has come to bid adieu to a long-time feature of McGill's WMS websites, Quick Links. Read about why this change is happening and how to prepare.
Image by Karsten Winegeart, Unsplash.

Summary: Our first Drupal 9 sites - McGill's Staff Directory and our search pages - are live and more are coming soon! Sites in Drupal 9 will have a cleaner, more modern header. The new header will no longer have Quick Links (the list of links that open from a red button in the top right corner). To simplify the transition, we'll remove Quick Links from all WMS sites as of October 16, 2023.

Expandable lists of resource links (like Quick Links) were once a staple on university websites. As a handy catch-all for links that didn't necessarily fit with a site's content or main menu, these lists were a way to keep the bases covered. A backup option for visitors who couldn't find what they were looking for anywhere else on the page.

After all, it's never a bad idea to have a back-up plan...right?

Helping visitors find our content quickly

Quick Links used to be a convenient way to access general institutional content and tools. But our statistics show the feature has declined in popularity over the years. 

Most of McGill's web content is accessed through search. One great way to help visitors easily find our content is to make sure it's optimized for search. If you're interested in learning more about search engine optimization techniques, sign-up for our WS-105 Web Analytics training course.

Besides ensuring our content is optimized for search, we can also help visitors find content they're looking for by building websites that are uncluttered, easy to navigate and tailored to user requirements. This means removing excess content that doesn't provide value for target audiences.

The problem with quick fixes

As site managers and editors, we know our audience members can experience challenges finding content on our websites. However, our audience research tells us Quick Links isn't necessarily a great solution. In fact, in some ways it contributes to the problem. 

On some websites, ongoing revisions have led to cluttered layouts, confusing navigation, and content bloat. We continually add new content to sites, while very rarely thinking about what should be removed. Not surprisingly, our audience members often tell us they find the amount of information on our sites to be overwhelming.

One great way to address website usability issues is to perform an in-depth content audit to remove unnecessary or duplicate information. Here are some examples of recent web projects where content has been significantly reduced to improve navigation and usability.

As a side benefit, reducing content also means you and your team will also have a easier time maintaining and revising your website!

Next steps for Quick Links users

If you use Quick Links to access webpages, we recommend you create bookmarks to this content instead. Here are links to instructions for creating bookmarks using McGill supported browsers:

You can find the most popular Quick Links in the footer of the homepage. (Many more are included in the comprehensive resource pages for faculty and staff and for students.)

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

Reducing content on our sites and cleaning up our site layouts will open up new opportunities for both our site visitors and site content creators including:

  • Increasing visibility of strategic messaging
  • Easier to maintain
  • Facilitating upcoming changes to site and content management processes:
    • Translation requirements
    • Drupal 9 upgrade

Below are some helpful resources for auditing and reducing your site content:

Site content auditing resources

Looking to reduce clutter on your website and make your web management process more efficient? Check out our Web Services resources below:

And here's a few more links you might find interesting:

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