Raising Awareness

"A centre of excellence in digital information management, providing advice and services to the library, information and cultural heritage communities."

UKOLN is based at the University of Bath.

Licence For Reuse Of This Document

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

MLA logo

Preserving Your Home Page


An organisation's home page provides the doorway to its Web site. How it changes over time reflects both how an organisation has changed and how the Web has changed. Keeping a record of both the visual and structural changes of the home page could be very important in the future.


Suppose your organisation is about to commemorate an important anniversary (10 years, 50 years or 250 years since it was founded). Your director wants to highlight the fact that the organisations is actively engaging with new technologies and would like to provide an example of how the organisation's Web site has developed since it was launched. The challenge:

How has your organisational home page changed over time? Have you kept records of the changes and the decisions which were made? If the above scenario took place in your organisations, do you feel you would be able to deliver a solution?

Although most Web managers will be aware of the most significant changes (such as a CMS brought in, search added, changes in navigation, branding, accessibility, language, content, interactive elements and multimedia) currently there is likely to only be anecdotal evidence and tacit knowledge.

Internet Archive

One option may be to use the Internet Archive (IA) [1] to view the recorded occurrences of the organisation's home page. The IA is a non-profit organisation founded to build an Internet library, with the purpose of offering access to historical collections that exist in digital format. There are a number of issues to consider when using the IA e.g. it lacks explicit preservation principles and may not have a sustainable business model and so its use cannot guarantee the preservation of your resources.

Example: As part of the JISC PoWR project an interactive display was created of the University of Bath's home page using IA screenshots [2]. In addition to this display a brief video with accompanying commentary was also created, which discusses some of the changes to the home page over the 11 years.

Compiled History

Building a compiled history is another approach. A 14 year's history of the University of Virginia's Web site from 1994-2008 [3] is available from their site. They provide details of the Web usage statistics in the early years, with screen images shown of major changes to the home page from 1997. There is also a time line and access to archived sites from 1996 onwards.

Preserving for the Future

The best way that you can ensure that your organisation's home page is preserved is ensuring that it gets documented in a preservation policy or as part of a retention schedule. Once this has been agreed there are a number of available options.

Domain harvesting of the site:
Your home page could be captured as part of a harvesting programme. Your organisation could conduct its own domain harvest, sweeping the entire domain (or domains) using appropriate Web-crawling tools or work in partnership with an external agency to do domain harvesting on its behalf.
The UK Web-Archiving Consortium (UKWAC) [4] has been gathering and curating Web sites since 2004. To date, UKWAC's approach has been selective: although you can now nominate Web sites for capture with UKWAC.
Adobe Capture:
There is a built-in part of Adobe Acrobat which allows Web sites to be captured to a PDF file.
Exploration of your Content Management System options:
There may be some scope for preservation using your CMS.


Responsibility for the preservation of your organisation's Web site may fall in many places but will ultimately require shared ownership. Although there may be ways to easily access snap shots of your home page, if you would like long-term access you will need to embark upon some sort of preservation strategy.


  1. Internet Archive, <>
  2. Visualisation of University of Bath Home page changes, UKOLN, <>
  3. History of UVA on the Web, <>
  4. UWAC, <>
Bookmark and Share