UND has specific writing standards for the web vs. print.
All website must strictly follow the UND brand messaging, design, photos and video standards. A unified campus with a consistent brand strengthens the University.
Tips for Building a Strong Web Page
The best webpages have:
- A clear internal navigation, with text hierarchy that is intuitive to understand and doesn’t overwhelm the visitor with detail.
- Well-crafted copy and sidebar content.
- Links to two or three carefully chosen pieces of video or other feature content.
- Sub-section previews that give an indication of more detailed information resources that lie deeper in the section, including links to two or three key transactional destinations such as application, registration, or contact pages.
- Content that lends context — and value — to the list of majors, tuition numbers, or admission criteria that should be just one or two more clicks away.
Strong SEO is Key
Use these search engine optimization techniques to get your web pages found via search engines.
Have Unique Page Titles
Each page of your site should have a unique title tailored to the content on the page.
Page titles should be 40 – 60 characters.
Don't Overlook Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are the content that people see in search results. A meta description lets your audience know what to expect before they follow the search result link. A well-written meta description can make the difference between your page getting clicked or missed. Some guidelines:
- Descriptions should be 110 – 160 characters.
- Consider that one sentence may be best for scanning.
- Each page should have a unique meta description.
- Do not use quotation marks — Google truncates the description when it hits one.
To the extent that it sounds natural, weave important words and phrases your audience may search for into the copy that you write. Use those keywords in your meta data.
Write for the Web
Use the Inverted Pyramid to Structure Your Page
- Start with the most important information in the opening sentence. That sentence should answer who, what, when, where, why and how.
- Fill in the rest of the story, with increasing detail, in the paragraphs that follow.
- Place the least important information toward the bottom of the page.
If there's a shorter, way to say something, say it that way.
- Page titles: 1 – 4 words
- Sentences: < 70 words
- Paragraphs: 1 – 3 sentences
- Intro Sentence (Intro Text style): Do not wrap more than three lines on desktop. You don't want mobile phone users to have to scroll down to read one sentence.
Use Common Terms
Default to descriptive titles rather than organizational names or acronyms that external audiences may not understand.
- Tutoring vs. Student Academic Success Center
- Continuing Education for Older Adults vs. The Emeritus Program
Write in an Active Voice
Active voice is clearer and more engaging than passive voice. Combined with direct
active voice draws the user into the conversation. Active voice also allows you to prompt the
user to action naturally and to say more in fewer words:
- Before: All applications must be completed and submitted by Jan. 30.
- After: Please submit your completed application by Jan. 30.
Use Headings, Section Titles, Bulleted Lists to Make Content Scannable
- Bulleted lists allow people to see discreet items.
- Numbered lists help people to understand scope and scale (for example, the number of steps in a process).
- Subheads provide focus for a particular section within a page and can be quickly scanned.
- There is only one <h1> per page. After an <h1>, pages should have a hierarchy of heading tags (h2-h6).
Ensure the Name of a Link Matches the Page
For instance, if you click on a link entitled Admissions, you should land on a page named Admissions, not Getting In or Forms & Applications. You have a little more latitude with hyperlinks, but the relevance between the name of the hyperlink and the page it links to should be readily apparent. Otherwise, visitors get irritated.
Link Phrases Rather than Single Words
The reason: readers can spot a phrase more quickly and easily than a single word.
- Wrong: “Click here for a list of our master’s programs and doctoral programs.”
- Right: We offer more than 30 degree and certificate programs across medicine, nursing, allied health and biomedical research.
Just because you use a word that is the name of another page on your site doesn’t mean that it’s relevant. Be sure to check the content of the linked page to ensure that it is relevant and will help the reader.
Avoid Web Cliches
- Welcome to our site.
- On this page you will find…
End Each Page with Call to Action
This is especially important on landing pages and other marketing-critical pages. Highlight next steps and provide links that encourage readers to explore and engage.
Follow Accessibility Best Practices
Good accessibility is tried directly to strong SEO and web writing. Also use these guidelines when updating content:
- Image alternate text should be meaningful and descriptive (keep below 53 characters).
- Avoid using images with text. Including text as part of images presents issues not only for the visually impaired, but those using screen magnifiers as well as those who are dyslexic or have other cognitive disabilities.
- Avoid using nondescriptive link prompts like "click here," "read more" or "learn more". These links are not descriptive enough since all links are read aloud by screen readers without context.
- Avoid posting URLs as text since these URL links are read aloud by screen readers. For example, instead of saying, "Visit Admission at www.UND.edu/admission to request more information," you should link the descriptive words or phrases, e.g., "Visit Admissions to request more information."
- Tables are used for the display of tabular data only. Content in data cells is associated with headers and rows.
- Avoid ALL CAPS, bolding random words and underlining anything that isn’t a link.
- Use lists where appropriate to accurately convey structure and relationships of text or a list of items. This may be done using unordered lists (bullets) or ordered lists (1., 2., 3.).