Avoid catch-all pages
A catch-all page is one that is essentially a list of links to both City of Austin and external resources. Catch-all pages are often compiled by a specific department or program. They offer an exhaustive list of resources available in the community.

Why they aren’t great

  • Too much content is as bad as no content. Catch-all pages overload users with a lot of information and are difficult to navigate.
  • They don't focus on user’s needs and can end up being a repository of departmental knowledge, ultimately serving the departments, not residents.
  • They lack context. Often, the links within a long list are presented with no information as to what they are about or who will they serve.
  • They muddle up our message. City of Austin services can get lost within links to external services.
  • They are difficult to maintain Over time, the links become out-of-date, broken, or irrelevant.


When confronted with a catch-all page:
  1. 1.
    Make data-driven decisions. Check the analytics for a given link. How often are people clicking on outbound links? Which links seem to be the most valuable, and which are underused?
  2. 2.
    Define your end user and goal. Remember to be specific when thinking about your user. What do you want the end user to be able to accomplish? How does this content fail to accomplish that user's needs? You might realize that this page is trying to reach too many users, and therefore should be split into several pages.
  3. 3.
    Attempt to adapt the content to a better content type. You might discover that a guide or a service page are better options.

If you have to include links, follow best practices

  • Use reputable sources. Only link to City of Austin partners, or governmental or educational domains (website addresses that end in .gov or .edu).
  • Evaluate whether there is resident-friendly and useful content on the other end of a hyperlink. If a website isn’t responsive or accessible, or if the content is out-of-date, exclude it.
  • Provide scaffolding to help users decide whether a link is relevant to them. For example, using “SAFE Housing for Families and Individuals” alone won’t communicate that this organization only provides temporary shelter to people escaping domestic and sexual violence. Adding contextual information can direct the right people to the right resource.
  • Limit “learn more” or “additional resources” links to the best 3 websites.

Last modified 1yr ago