Link directly to a file from your menu or a teaser

If you have a file you want to add to your site's menu or as a teaser on a page, how does a user click once and open the file directly in their browser? Read on to find out.

The problem: "middle man" pages

At some point or another, you may want to add something to your menu that let's a visitor to your site click on it and open a PDF directly in their browser. Or maybe you've added an important policy to your website that you want visitors to be able to download in one click from a teaser on your homepage.

Most folks will read our article on File elements and conclude they should create a page that includes a file element on it. That works just fine; however, the visitor has to click on the link to the page, then click again on the download link. This is the dreaded "middle man" page.

We frequently get requests about how to reduce this to just a single click for expediency -- that is, a lesson on how to directly link to a file on your website (or for that matter, on any website) and eliminate the middle man. This is that lesson!

Caution: Sometimes middle man pages are really useful! Consider a document where you need to provide some additional explanation or context before people download it, or in situations where you have to post several documents on the same page. In that case a "middle man" page is just the right trick.

The solution: External pages

The unsung hero of the various types of pages you can use on a Streamline site is undoubtedly the External page. If you've attended any of our Getting Started trainings, you might have heard me say that "everything on your site is a page" -- this isn't literally true, of course, but if you want to add anything to your menu or tease it anywhere, it has to appear in your Pages library (in the Content tab) as a Page. So how does this work when you want to link directly to a file (and not a middle man page)?

External pages do this job beautifully; however, there is a process that you need to follow first to make this work for files on your own website. External pages entire purpose is to redirect a visitor to a specific URL. Every file you upload to your Files library on your Streamline site also has its own unique URL that is static (or never going to change). We need to create an External page using this URL.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Navigate to your Content tab and upload the file to your Files library

  2. Right click on the file to copy the URL to your clipboard
  3. Navigate to your Pages library and create an External page (Add New > External page)
  4. Give your page a title and paste the file URL in the URL field
  5. With the External page on your site, you can now add it to your menu or tease it on another page

See how