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Web Template Guide: Web Standards Tips

Keep your Web site fresh and easy to use

These are a few tips for maintaining style throughout your Web site that will make your site easy to read and easy to navigate.

Keep your information up-to-date

Update your Web site as soon as any of the information published there changes or becomes irrelevant (i.e. events past , programs removed from the curriculum or faculty members no longer at the college). Update your Web site before you do anything else in print.

Delete irrelevant and outdated information

Don’t be afraid to delete pages on your Web site if they are not helpful or useful. It is generally less confusing for people to have less content to wade through. Outdated, useless or poorly presented information can detract from your department’s image. Keep your Web site sustainable and easily-maintainable!

Don't repeat yourself (D.R.Y.)

Try not to repeat yourself on your Web site. Information only needs to be stated once. Thereafter, link to the original content published.

Less is more with Web content

Keep content as succinct as possible on your Web pages, and bullet out essential information as often as possible to improve scannability. Research shows that people scan Web pages for the information they need. They’re generally not willing to spend time reading unnecessary prose. This said, be sure to introduce series of bullet points to give context for your readers.

Keep it personal—use the first person

Use the second person tense on your Web pages: “You will need to apply for a passport before submitting an application for the semester in Ghana program.” instead of “Students will need to apply for passports before applying for the semester in Ghana program.” Groups of students will not be gathering around a single computer to read your content—your Web visitor will likely be one person (with maybe a helicopter parent reading over the student’s shoulder).

Link, link, link!

Link to other pages in your site, or in the Calvin Web site, as often as possible. For example, if you refer to Calvin’s business department on one of your pages, link to the business department. However, do not say on your Web page, “For the business department, click here.”, adding a link to the words “click here”. Simply add a link to the words, "business department”.

There is no need to spell out URLs on Web pages. Simply add a link to appropriate text to send a visitor to the Web page you want to reference. So instead of “Go to www.calvin.edu/academic/psych/” for more info, say “Go to the psychology department for more info” and add a link to the words “psychology department”.

Always add a title to your page—Google will love it!

Always add a title to your page in the Dreamweaver title box. Make sure this title corresponds with the titles given to the page in the heading and primary content areas. Doing this will improve your ranking in Google's search engine over time.

Make your navigation simple and consistent

All navigation bars for your Web site should contain the primary sections in your Web site. In other words, avoid creating navigation bars that do not allow your visitors access to parts of the site they had access to when they arrived at your homepage.

Secondary navbars should be used to add additional dropdown information under one section. Do not delete any primary sections of your Web site on secondary navbars.

When you make a change to your primary, or main navbar, make sure to make the same changes on all secondary navbars.

Edit your content before pushing the Web Update Button

Always edit the content on your page before making your page live on the Web. Run the Check Spelling function in Dreamweaver (Shift + F7) and go through the document to ensure that names and places are spelled correctly. Use Calvin’s editorial style guide to check spellings of Calvin buildings, programs, etc. Some style issues to look for in your page text:

a. Lowercase the names of Calvin departments unless they are proper nouns (like English or German) in running text.

b. Lowercase the names of student majors, unless they are proper nouns, in running text: “The male engineering majors decided to ask the female English majors on a group date to the beach.”

c. Do not capitalize the word “professor” in running text unless it precedes a professor’s name: “Professor Jim Vanden Bosch” but “As a professor, Vanden Bosch preferred to meet with students in his office instead of at the student coffee shop.”

d. Do not use an ampersand (&) in running text. It may be used in department or program logos.

e. When referring to alumni, add their year of graduation or exit after their name: Allison Graff ’07.

f. Use acronyms for Calvin-related things only after you have used the formal, spelled-out name of the college organization or program it represents at least once.

Re-size your images in a photo editing program

Re-size your images in a photo editing program like Fireworks or Photoshop. If you use the scale tool in Dreamweaver, you may be making your image visually smaller, but it is still digitally a large file and could take a long time for a Web visitor to download.

Avoid using tables

Use tables only to represent tabular data. Do not use tables to add extra columns to your page.

Create a Web page before you advertise its URL

Publish or advertise a URL on a print or e-mail piece only after the Web site the URL represents exists. Create the page BEFORE you advertise the URL.

Name your files and folders well

Keep your folder names (and URLs) short, but understandable: www.calvin.edu/academic/engl/publications/ instead of www.calvin.edu/academic/engl/pubs/.

Keep your site looking polished

Use only pre-formatted fonts, font sizes and font colors (section 6.7) on each of your Web pages. Other fonts, font sizes and font colors on images created and/or edited in an editing program.

Link to PDFs only when necessary

Where possible, avoid posting PDFs. Make your information available on a Web page, not in a document a visitor may spend an hour trying to download.

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