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Guidelines and Standards
Web Content Guidelines
Chapel Hall 102
Authors need to log into the web-based Content Editor at gallaudet.edu/gu-login.
Users can log in using their Gallaudet user name and password. New authors, or those needing refresher training, should contact us for training.
Gallaudet web page addresses must be within the WWW directory/domain, such as www.gallaudet.edu/about. Requests for subdomains, such as about.gallaudet.edu, will not be granted. Existing subdomain URLs are allowed.
With the current Content Editor, URLs are “structured URLs” which means that the URL name is based on the name of the page and the structure it is in. For example:gallaudet.edu/Gallaudet-University/About-Gallaudet/History/The-Legacy-Begins.
For shorter URLs, especially for print purposes, use our gu.live solution. Once the page is published online, changing the title of the page will change the URL and any links to the page will be broken. Care should be taken when creating a name for a new page or site.
Before creating a new site or adding new content, put yourself in the shoes of the average visitor that you hope is visiting your site. What do they want to know? What do they want to do? How do they want to do it? Think about your own behavior as a web visitor for other websites.
There is often a lot of information that we think our visitors should read or we’re tempted to put everything about our programs online. Too much information, especially if it’s not well written, not well organized, and not easily scannable, can be as bad as not having enough information. If the visitor can easily find the information that they expect to find, there is nothing wrong with them needing to contact you for follow up questions.
What you should not put on your website:
It is very important that web page content be accessible. According to Section 508 Web Standards and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, all images and graphic elements on your page must be accompanied by alternative text (alt-text). Alt-text is a brief description of the image-imagine describing the picture to someone who can’t see it. Visually impaired visitors may use talking browsers, screen readers, and text browsers to “view” your page. These devices depend on alt-text.
The University’s Content Editor takes care of many of these requirements but, if you add pictures to your page, you must include alt-text for your pictures. There is a field provided in the Content Editor for adding this descriptive text. This is NOT necessarily the same thing as a photo caption (See the Images/Video section below). If you need assistance with adding alt-text, please contact University Communications.
Content should be concise and scannable. Writing for the web is very different from writing for print publications. Web visitors prefer to jump to a page, scan it to see if it contains the information they are looking for, and then read quickly to get that information. Web visitors quickly get frustrated “wasting time” reading through a lot of content, especially if it doesn’t contain the information they need. First impressions matter, you may not get a second visit.
Also remember that visitors don’t follow a set path to arrive at any given page. They may bypass your main page and go directly to another page in your site. Keep this in mind in your writing; don’t assume that the reader has read the page before that explained a certain topic or spelled out a particular acronym.
Caption: Women’s volleyball team hosts 2012 NEAC tournament this weekend.
Alt-tag: team members slap hands and clap as they congratulate each other on the court.
Update your site regularly
Keeping your website current and relevant is extremely important! Obviously you don’t want visitors coming to your site and either not finding the information that they need or, even worse, finding old or wrong information on your site. First impressions matter and you may not get a second chance!
How often should you update? As often as possible! Nowadays the primary way prospective students and others are finding out about you is through the web. Paper brochures and flyers are still important tools in marketing, but a prospective student who receives a brochure will likely go to their smart phone and look you up rather than study the brochure. Review your site regularly, read through it as if you are an outside visitor who doesn’t know much about you. Delete outdated information!
If you want people to come back to your site more than once, you also need to have fresh content such as news about your program, profiles on students or faculty in your program, or changing photos. Take time to review other department websites to see what they’re doing and review websites for similar programs at other universities. If you see something that someone else is doing, that would work for your site, borrow the idea. Be judicious, don’t clutter your site with gimmicks, but if it is something that would enhance your site, try it. Contact University Communications if you need guidance or assistance.
Search Engine Optimization
Want your site to be discovered when people are searching for related information? Here are a few things you should keep in mind that can help your chances.
Be sure to have an introduction on each page, a sentence or short paragraph that sums up the content on the page. Clarify jargon and abbreviations and use keywords.
Take the time to carefully determine the specific words and phrases that sum up your site. Think about what words someone who doesn’t know much about your subject would use if they were doing a Google search for you. There is a field in the Content Editor to enter keywords. You should also use your key words in the content on your page, particularly as headings.*Caution: don’t go overboard with your key words though; be sure that your content is readable and engaging!
Page titles should accurately reflect the content on each page. Another good place to use keywords. Don’t use a generic title for each of your pages, the design template in the Content Editor already ensures that your department/organization name will be repeated throughout your site. Boring is good! Don’t try to be too creative with your page titles, make them short and to the point!
Metadata is the information about your content that search engines read. In the Content Editor the fields for Abstract and Keywords are examples of places where you can enter meta data about your page. The importance of meta data has diminished in recent years as search engines have gotten more sophisticated but they are still important. You should put a short paragraph in the Abstract field that uses some of your keywords and provides a unique description of the page. If you have a description there, search engines will display that in their search results listings right below the page title.
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