Tips for Overhauling your Content
If you have already attended content training, you have received information on how to go through your content. Here are some specific tips for putting everything together.
We can supply you with an analytics report that will tell how many visits your pages have received over the past year. This will let you know what users are looking for and what they may not really need.
Making Your Navigation Menu
- The ideal number for a navigation menu is 5-7 items. You should have no more than 10.
- Think of these items as 'buckets'. All the content on your site should fit into one of the buckets.
- There is an option for dropdowns, but only one level. The dropdown can not have a dropdown.
- You can not link to a pdf from the navigation menu.
Pick Your Template
There are 3 templates (page layouts) you can choose.
Think About How Content Should be Laid Out on Your Pages
The CMS uses what are called content types. Content types allow you to choose how your content is displayed.
For instance, content in 2 columns or 3 columns, content in tabs, etc.
You can use multiple content types on one page.
Examples of content types:
Common Content Types - these content types are automatically available for all to use.
Sidebar Content Types - these content types are for use in the right or left sidebar (if you choose a template with a sidebar)
Other Content Types - these content types can be used, but you must request them. They are not automatically available.
Content types cannot be put inside of other content types. For example, tabbed content cannot go inside of an accordion.
Some content types can only be used once per page - Image slider, tabbed content.
Pictures and Images
You will need to gather all the images that will appear on your website.
- Use high-quality images. It is best to use images from Photographic Services.
- Avoid stock photography
- No clip art may be used
- No animated gifs may be used
You can schedule a photography session with Eric Gordon at Photographic Services.
The university also maintains an archive of photos at idahostateu.smugmug.com. We can explain how to download photos.
Some content types use certain Image Sizes. We can resize images during migration, but you should be aware of certain requirements.
all faculty staff portraits must be at least 200x 300 pixels in size
All images for slide must be exactly the same size
Web Content Guidelines
Know your target audience. Have a clear idea of who your content is meant for as you create and edit it. Trying to create content that is useful for everyone makes it useful for no one.
Front-load information. Write your most important information first, and flesh out the details as you go further down the page. This is often referred to as an "inverted pyramid" style of writing.
Write clear, descriptive, stand-alone headings and subheadings. Web writing is one place where creativity and cleverness don't pay off–especially when it comes to headings. Instead of being clever, be descriptive so that your headings could stand alone out of context and still give your reader an idea of what they will read about. Questions often make good headings.
Be concise. Web writing should use roughly half the words of conventional writing. Eliminate unnecessary words when possible, and make your point.
Use short paragraphs and sentences. When writing for the web, stick to one idea per paragraph–some paragraphs may be a single sentence. Keep your sentences simple and short. Breaking up text improves scannability and helps users find information they are looking for.
Write in the active voice, not passive. Users will more readily engage with "we decided" rather than "it was decided."
Use pronouns. The user is "you," while the organization or department is "we," "our" or "us." Using pronouns make content cleaner, easier to read and more approachable for users.
Write clear links. Never use a website URL, or the words "here" or "click here" as your link text. Write your content as you normally would, without links, then place your link in the word or words (usually one to five words) that best describe the content you are linking to.
Use bold and italics sparingly, and never underline or CAPITALIZE text. Using bold and italicized words or phrases is only effective when not overdone, and can be distracting. Underlining is reserved for links and should never be used to add emphasis. Writing in all caps makes it seem like you are yelling and is hard to read.
Use simple language. The web is not the place to impress your readers with big words and jargon if a simpler word will do–they just want the information. Make your written content easy to read and understand. Instead of the word "minuscule," say "small."
Write for your audience, not your office, department or group. Use words and language your users are searching for to improve both scannability and searchability of web pages on search engines, like Google. Keep in mind that the way your office is organized isn't necessarily the way your audience is thinking about your services.
Use bulleted and numbered lists. Lists are a great way to break up paragraphs and blocks of text into scannable bits of information that are easy for users to read and digest.
Use white space. Visually separating information with whitespace reduces noise and allows users to scan and find information easily.
Don't assume readers have prior knowledge of a subject or have read related pages. Users can get to any page without reading the preceding pages first. Create content for each page with the ability to stand alone in mind.
Do not use clip art, stock photography or low-quality photos. Users are on your website for the information or services, not to look at photos, so use photos sparingly and with a purpose related to your content. Don't add clip art or stock photography to "spice up" a page, as these images can often appear unprofessional and generic. Do not use low-quality or pixelated photos.
Be consistent. Following the University Style Guide and University Web Writing Guide will help you maintain consistency in many ways. For topics that are not addressed in either guide, ensure that you decide how you will format or address the issue and be consistent throughout your web pages, and on social media.
Colons Only capitalize the first letter after a colon is used if the content after a colon is a complete sentence or if the first word is a proper title or name that would normally be capitalized. Otherwise, lowercase the first letter after a colon. Incorrect: We developed a web writing guide: A guide for web writing.
Correct: We developed a style guide: a document that describes writing for the web.
Incorrect: Question: is writing for the web the same as writing for print publications?
Correct: Answer: No, writing for the web is not the same as writing for a print publication.
Downloads: Users want to know if clicking a link will result in a download, or in opening a PDF page. Ensure that you let users know if your link will download something, and if so what kind of file it is. File types may include word documents, pdf documents, excel sheets or others. Be aware that many PDF documents online could easily be posted as web pages, making them easier for you to edit and easier for users to view and read. This is often the case when you have informational documents rather than forms that users need to fill out. Try to minimize the number of forms and pdf documents on your site when possible.
Ellipses: Use sparingly in web writing. Use a space after ellipses. Do not use a space before ellipses.
Correct: Keep reading... unless you don't want to know more about ellipses.
Incorrect: Keep reading... unless you don't want to know more about ellipses.
Incorrect: Keep reading... unless you don't want to know more about ellipses.
Email addresses: All email addresses should be written in lowercase only.
Exclamation Points: Use sparingly. Never use multiple exclamation points.
Headings, Sub-headings: Headings should be able to stand on their own. Avoid vague headings. Readers should know what your content is about based on a heading. Simple, descriptive headings are best. Questions often make good headings.
Incorrect: Your Lifestyle. Your Choice.
Correct: Housing Options
Incorrect: Money Made Easy
Correct: How Do I Pay My Bill?
Internet: Capitalize at the beginning of a sentence only.
Links: Do not use page URLs, or the words "here" or "click here" as a link. Use descriptive words that tell users where a link will lead them.
Incorrect: For more information about ISU tuition, click here.
Correct: More information about ISU tuition is now available.
Lists: Bullet points are for unordered lists, where each listed item is not in any particular order. Numbered lists should be used to show order, whether that order is sequential, chronological or otherwise. Lists are a great way to break up information and get readers' attention.
Correct: To qualify, students must meet the following criteria:
- Cumulative GPA of 2.5
- Desire to learn
Students looking to enroll for the fall semester must:
- complete and submit an application
- pay the application fee
- enroll in classes through BengalWeb
Locations: See style guide for proper titles and names of buildings and locations throughout campus. Log in/login: Use login as a noun and log in as a verb. Same goes for log on/logon.
Numbers: Unlike in other publications, numerals should be used on the web for readability, not spelled out. Correct: Our department offers 3 majors, 9 minors and 14 emphasis areas.
Incorrect: Our department offers three majors, nine minors and fourteen emphasis areas.
Incorrect: Our department offers three majors, nine minors and 14 emphasis areas.
Online: Not on-line, On-line or on line. Only capitalize at the beginning of a sentence.
Percentages: Use numerals to represent figures. Do not spell out the word percent, rather use the "%" symbol after numerals.
Correct: Less than 10% of students are required to retake the exam.
Incorrect: Less than ten percent of students are required to retake the exam.
Incorrect: Less than 10 percent of students are required to retake the exam.
Phone Numbers: Use the format (208) 282-0000 for phone numbers. Do not remove the area code or shorten internal university extensions on the web, as websites can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
Correct: Contact the office at (208) 282-0000 with questions.
Incorrect: Contact the office at x0000 with questions.
Incorrect: Contact the office at ext. 0000 with questions.
Incorrect: Contact the office at 208.282.0000 with questions.
Incorrect: Contact the office at 282-0000 with questions.
Photos: Do not use stock photography or clip art. Use images or photos sparingly and with a purpose. Images and photos should relate to the written content on the page. Alt text MUST be inserted for each use of a photo, per ISU Policy.
Social Media: Capitalize the names of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others according to brand standards. Do not abbreviate. Do not use quotation marks. Do not bold, italicize or underline. Lowercase and do not use quotation marks around actions or media types on social media sites, including but not limited to like, share, follow, retweet, snap, story or stories.
Underlining: Only links should be underlined. Do not underline words or phrases to add emphasis, or for any other purpose than to link content.
URLs: All URLs should be written in lowercase letters only. Do not bold.
Website: One word. Only capitalize if used at the beginning of a sentence.