[map]A Site Structure Pattern from
Patterns for Personal Web Sites

Secret Garden

When a site is small, on the order of a dozen pages, it is easy for a visitor to read them at one sitting. As a site grows, though, it requires more of the visitor's effort to explore the whole site. The larger the site is, the more important it is to reward exploration.

Therefore, when your site is large enough that a visitor can't read it in one visit, consider adding some pages that aren't mentioned elsewhere on the site and require some effort (or a little luck) to discover.

These not-quite-hidden pages form small secret gardens, each of which is reachable only through one seemingly innocuous page.

For example, a page about trainspotting could link to an otherwise unlinked (and unmentioned) set of trainspotting reminiscences, or other information that would be of interest only to trainspotting aficionados.

This pattern is most effective on sites large enough to require Index Pages. A secret garden is a Web site's gargoyle: such ornamentation would overwhelm a small church, but a cathedral can support it.

A secret garden is the opposite of a Private Entrance. Whereas a Private Entrance is a private page that links to public pages, a secret garden is a set of public pages linked from a public (though possibly not often read) page.

Last updated 8 July 2003
All contents ©2002-2003 Mark L. Irons