The University Web
The new standard
Back in the olden days of the Web (circa 2001), websites were novelties. You'd ask a resident hobbyist to build a site and it would magically appear out of nothing (and cost nothing). No standards, no accessibility concerns or even assessment tools: "Look! We've got a website. We're modern and hip!"
Fast-forward to today and ask any student where they turn first to find information and they won't hesitate to say "the Web." After all, where else would they think to find information?
If it's not on the Web, it doesn't exist
For better or for worse, your Web presence is quite possibly the most prominent piece of your organization. It's the 21st-century first impression. People will visit your site and form a snapshot opinion of your work that will either help or hinder your goals. Here's what you need to know to make sure that first impression is a good one.
- Organize, organize, organize.
Provide a clear, easy-to-navigate interface. Designing the layout of your site should be one of the most time consuming parts of your process. Once you have a good layout, then figure out how to make it pretty.
- Only build what you can maintain.
News pages and event calendars often seem like good ideas until it comes to keeping them updated. Keep this in mind when building new websites.
- Keep your information up to date.
Closely related to above, if you haven't updated your site since 2008, people are less likely to take your site (and you) seriously.
- Prioritize and cater to a target audience:
Always consider who your most important audience is and what they expect of your site. Then design accordingly. While faculty and staff may visit a department website most often, prospective students are the ones adding FTE and growing the department.
- Connect your site to the university and parent divisions:
Unit websites need to visually and contextually connect to their parent divisions and the larger university. Individual sites should link to other University departments and services rather than exist as an island.
- Limit your use of PDFs.
Linking to PDFs is a fast way to get information on the Web. However, that information is more effective and accessible if you take the time to input the text and images directly into your website instead of relying on the PDF.
Don't just build websites. Build them well.
Like building codes, Web standards are a set of rules and guidelines for building structurally sound web sites. The official standard bearers are found at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). They craft standards to help minimize browser display errors and maximize the accessibility to the visually- and mobility-impaired community.
Visit the W3C website to learn everything you ever wanted to know about the Web: www.w3c.org
Does this sound daunting?
It's true, working on the web can be confusing and difficult. What if we told you we could make it easy for you? What if we took away the fancy design programs like and made working on the web possible for the rest of us? What if we could deliver powerful, professional results while saving you time, money and gray hair? Come take a look at our content management system.