Standards for Easy to Use Web Pages
This document is intended to be used by academic and administrative departments that are designing and/or maintaining websites that reside on the University’s web servers or have links from any St. Lawrence web pages. The main purpose of this document, and the effort to develop some level of consistency throughout the University’s website, is to increase the usability of the site for all audiences. In addition to improving functionality for all users, either internal or external to the University, this will better represent St. Lawrence to prospective students. While the functional aspects of the site are crucial to its success, it must be acknowledged that the website is a significant marketing tool for the University. The University continues to support the desire of departments to portray themselves to the site’s varied users in their own unique style, recognizing that no two departments are the same. It is possible to do so while also maintaining a level of consistency that reinforces to visitors at all times that they are on the St. Lawrence website.
"Consistency" usually concerns navigation and naming conventions on pages throughout sites. If pages are not to look similar, then it is important that they at least function in a similar way. Designers should keep in mind that with the extensive use of search engines, users are more often coming into sites from non-traditional entry points. Therefore, it is necessary that each page carry certain identifiers to help orient the user. This document is also not intended to stifle creativity at the departmental level, but to give some guidance for the creative process.
Therefore, to accomplish this consistency in an effort to improve site appearance and usability, all pages on the University website should:
- Have a link to the St. Lawrence homepage on them.
- Say St. Lawrence University, in that format, somewhere on it. "SLU" is not sufficient.
- Have some form of navigation on them, at the top or top left of the page. This should at least include a link back to the main page of the site.
- Have the name of the department or section on them.
- Have a page title for each page that begins with "St. Lawrence University: (Department)".
- Avoid using varied design elements, such as different background colors or fonts on different pages.
- Avoid having out-of-date and/or incorrect content must be removed and/or corrected.
Process of Review and Reconditioning of Pages
The Web Team will conduct a preliminary survey of all pages on the website not using the University’s design and prepare reports for all departments reviewed, listing all items that should be addressed, as well as other suggestions and comments relative to design, navigation and content that exist on the site. A time frame will be worked out with the department, after conversations with the appropriate people in the department, for the required changes to be effected. At that time, the pages will be reevaluated to determine whether the appropriate changes have been made. If the necessary changes include out-of-date or inaccurate content, then the site might be de-linked until those changes are made.