Web Page redirection is a common task for any web master. In my winding road along this newly emerging dimension in human consciousness better known as the web, I have had the need to utilize page redirection for many different purposes, in many different ways. I have found that the method of implementing a redirection solution depends on your reason for performing that redirect.
In this article I do not intend to enumerate all the possible ways and reasons for performing a page redirection. Rather I will focus on those methods which I have used most often for particular situations.
This is an oldie but a goodie. Meta refresh redirection was one of the first methods of redirection I ever learned. As the name implies, this redirection is done by placing a meta tag in your web page’s head. Here what the meta tag looks like:
Why Use Meta Refresh Redirection
This method of redirection is commonly used when you don’t have control of your web server’s root, such as in a shared web hosting environment.
Say you need to move a page from it’s current location. The page may have been there for some time and gathered a few bookmarks or links across the web, maybe the page has a good position on the search engines. If you don’t want to lose those links and bookmarks and search engine position you must redirect your users and the search engines to the page’s new location. Normally this would be done at the server level but on shared hosting environments where your account may have limited access or control this is the way to go.
The content attribute, (see code sample above,) is what controls the time before the redirection takes place. The time specified is in seconds. In the above example
content = "0" the user will be redirected to the next page in 0 seconds, almost immediately (because the page has to load first.) You can set this interval to take enough time to display whatever you want on the page, a logo, an ad, whatever. For the sake of user friendliness I usually include a message to my users letting them know the page was moved and that they are being redirected.
Issues with meta refresh redirection
As far as I know the only issue with using this kind of redirection is that if you set your redirect to happen really fast, (less than 3 seconds or so,) using your browser’s back button from the new page will take you back to the redirection, causing your user to be stuck on the new page. This is a minor issue and a seasoned web user should be able to get past this easily, still some cite this as a usability concern.
On a personal note, I have always thought this issue is exploited by webmasters to keep users on their pages, as there are other, more elegant ways available of performing a redirection without losing your browser’s history. Whenever I come across a site that does this it really pisses me off, specially when dealing with large sites and companies that can afford to pay professional web masters or developers who should know better. I can only think the webmaster or developer behind the site is simply exploiting the flaw and usually just leave these sites and try not to go back. After all, there is no product or service so exclusive that it can’t be gotten somewhere else.