Website Style Guide

Overview

The guide below is intended to assist Eureka College staff with maintaining consistency throughout the Eureka.edu website. Please forward further questions to Bryan Moore.

Basics

  • Utilize existing styles (body, h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, and h6) to maintain a uniform look across the site. Using custom colors or font families should be a rare exception.
  • In most cases, content and headers should be aligned to the left. Align to the right only when using a left-hand column that covers less than 1/2 of the editable body of the page. Center only to display a statistic or object (e.g., button).
  • Never underline text. If you need to call attention to certain words, use bold or italicized text.
  • Do not manually underline hyperlinks (Web addresses). Our website designers and our visitors’ browser settings will determine how hyperlinks appear and behave.
  • All imported images must be saved as .gif, .jpg, or .png files.
  • Use images to support and enhance text, being careful to not overwhelm the page.
  • Do not use animated or still clip art images which can appear as amateurish to visitors.
  • When uploading images to the media library, be sure to:
    • Include a line of descriptive text in the “alt text” box; this provides alternate text (alt tags) for screen readers used by the visually impaired and those with images disabled.
    • Include key search terms in the “description” box; this provides you with a way of searching for the image among the thousands in the media library.

Writing for the Web

The first and most important fact to understand about Web use is this:

People do not read Web pages – people scan Web pages.

Several studies support this premise. Web usability gurus John Morkes and Jakob Nielsen found that 79 percent of test users always scanned any new page they came across, while only 16 percent read word-by-word.

Web users seek specific information, or they browse in the hope of finding items of interest. They scan the page, searching for words that pique their interest. Huge blocks of brochure-like text that visitors have to wade through just to determine if your site is valuable overwhelm people.

Write for the reader, not for yourself
Always make the following assumptions about our site visitors:

  • They are busy people who want to find the information that they need quickly.
  • They may not have previous knowledge of education jargon, acronyms that are common to us, or college policies and procedures.
  • They do not know (and in many cases do not need to know) our internal structures and procedures.

To write efficiently for your Web audience:

  • First ask yourself, what’s my point? Start with the conclusion (the inverted pyramid method of writing).
  • Keep sentences brief.
  • Use clear, concise prose (avoid using clichés and modifiers).
  • Highlight keywords.
  • Chunk ideas into short paragraphs.
  • Employ meaningful subheadings.
  • Use bulleted and/or numbered lists.

Use fewer, more precise words to make your message stick. Your content must be optimized for the way people navigate the Web.