Best Web Practices

Take a look at this overview of the best web practices to improve your webpages. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good place to start. You can also view our blog for more information on creating great content. 


Text & Writing

Here are some things to keep in mind when writing for the web:

  • Stay user-focused
    • Use words like "you" instead of "the student"
    • Tell the user what they can do, not what you have to offer them
    • Consider your voice & tone
  • Use keywords strategically
    • Use keywords or phrases in important locations:
      • Page title
      • Headings and sub-headings
      • Body copy
      • Image and PDF file names and alt-text
  • Reduce text to 25%
    • A good rule of thumb is to cut your original text in half and then in half again, leaving about 25% of your text. We know that web users will ignore large blocks of text.
    • Make use of bullets in order to cut out unnecessary words and make the content easier to scan.

Headers

Every page should have no more and no less than one heading 1 at the top. This is important because it gives the user an idea of what information is on the entire page, and search engines rank headings higher than regular text. Sub-headings can be used in a hierarchy under the heading 1. 

Headings can be selected by using the "Format" or "Normal" dropdown in the WYSIWYG tool bar.  


Links

Links are a great way to connect information and give your users easy and immediate access to information they may be looking for. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Users scan webpages looking for underlined linked text, which means that we should be linking whenever appropriate.
  • Use descriptive text for links so that users know where they should expect the link to take them. 
  • "Click here" should never be used as text for links because it requires the user to read the sentence in order to get the context of the link.

Images

Images are great for adding visual appeal to webpages and making content clearer to users. Here are some tips for using images on the web:

  • Sizing: Make sure to size your image before uploading it to File Manager.
  • Text: Do not add text in your image unless it is strictly for visual appeal and not content that users need, this is important for search engine optimization.

Navigation

The navigation (or "navigation set") on your page is the set of links on the left-hand side of the page. These links help your user see what you have available and provide easy accessibility. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating/planning a navigation set:

  • The navigation links are for assisting users in accessing your collection of pages, so links to other departments (or resources, such as PDFs) should not be included here.
  • If a page is listed/linked in the navigation set, it should have the navigation set applied to it as well. As a check, you should be able to click through every link in the set without the navigation links changing or disappearing. 
  • The number of links under each heading should be limited to 7. If more than that, the user will struggle to focus on any single item. 
  • You don't necessarily have to include every page in your department in your navigation. You can also add strategic links to sub pages within the content on your higher-level pages. 

Call to Action

Pages should have a clear "call to action" for users unless the content is purely informational (such as a policy page). Sometimes, the call to action can be as a simple as having an email available for questions from users. At other times, it may take the form of a button on the page to RSVP for an event (if you decide to go with a button, the Web Content Team can assist you). 

Whatever the case may be, make sure that you're allowing your users to respond to the content in an appropriate and helpful way.