The CER digital team has recommendations for building a professional and accessible website. Listed below are best practices for web content management and usability.
Ensure that all images are accessible for users with disabilities by filling out Alt Text on every image you add to your site.
Ensure that all YouTube and Vimeo videos added to your site (and on your University account) are accessible for users with disabilities by having closed captioning available.
***Both of these items are required for universities to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Plus, it’s a good idea.***
Routinely check your site by clicking all links for potential broken links.
Anytime a page moves, you break any incoming links from other sites. Try to avoid deleting or changing the links to established pages. If you change the date on a blog post, you also change the URL dynamically, which could also break links.
Link and heading colors are preset. Try avoiding manually changing the color of your site’s text.
Keep your site’s menu items clear and brief – one to two words is best. The site menu should be easy to read and understand. As a general rule, try to write straightforward and simple headlines on blog posts and page titles. Make sure that they clearly explain what the page is about, and that headlines will make sense when read out of context in a search engine results listing.
Structure the page to facilitate scanning and help users ignore large chunks of the page in a single glance. For example, use grouping and subheadings to break a long list into several smaller units.
If you have a contact list or staff listing, try to list people in alphabetical order, so that your user can find the appropriate person quickly. If you are including photos, crop the photos to a consistent size. 170px x 170px is recommended.
A link has emphasis. Link too much, and soon everything has emphasis — so nothing does. Also, make sure you are emphasizing useful text.
Worst: The committee has many excellent resources on their website.
Bad: The committee has many excellent resources on their website.
Better: The committee has many excellent resources on their website.
Better still: There are many excellent resources available on the committee’s website.
Use of PDFs should be limited to the occasions where a page or document is to be printed. Users often prefer to print documents that are too long to easily read online. Never dump a user directly into a PDF file without fair warning. “Fair warning” means presenting the user with a gateway page in front of the PDF that provides information about the document they can elect to open.
Avoid adding video and audio to your site that automatically plays. The user should be allowed to start the video and audio by choice.