Guidance on building archivable websites

September 29, 2014
'Step 7' by Flickr user george under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A major challenge for web archivists is the low visibility that downstream archiving has on upstream web content creation. And, yet, deliberate and inadvertent architectural decisions made by web content creators strongly impact the ease or difficulty with which their websites can be captured and faithfully re-presented. A non-trivial byproduct of webmasters helping to ensure their content is archived for their own later use is that the Web itself becomes more archivable, to everyone's benefit.

Recognizing the importance and dearth of practical guidance on the topic, we have just published an extensive set of recommendations for web builders to improve the archivability of their content. The documentation is intended to improve the efficacy of our own and collective web preservation efforts, foster awareness of archivability as a web design best practice, and tout the usability and performance benefits of archivable websites. It builds upon previous notable work by the Portuguese Web Archive, Vangelis Banos, and others.

As is ever the case with web archiving, we will (have to) continue to update the documentation based on the changing web and evolving best practices. In the meantime, we welcome your feedback and questions regarding the guidance or web archivability generally. We are especially interested in working with content creators whose websites we are collecting; if you receive a notification of our intent to archive your website or are the manager of a website affiliated with Stanford University, please don't hesitate to contact us about improving the archivability of your site.