Digital Content Standards
Like every communication tool, the UND website needs to follow standards.
Most UND websites are hosted in Omni (Modern Campus), UND's content management system (CMS). Omni has standard templates that adhere to UND brand standards. However, since site content is flexible, specific web content standards have been established.
Unless otherwise noted, Associated Press (AP) style is the designated writing guideline for the UND website. Consult the writing guide for guidelines for print vs. web writing.
Web Content Policies
- Review and update information in a timely fashion, with a minimum frequency of three times per year.
- All factual/statistical information must match official University information.
- Copyrighted material used without permission or credit is prohibited. Information and images used from other sources must be properly credited by linking to the source. If a link is not available, a reference can be used.
- Websites must follow accessibility standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Image Alt Tags
Alt tags should concisely describe what the picture is/represents or its function (e.g. Students walking into Merrifield Hall.) Refrain from stating a picture is a picture (e.g., picture of Merrifield Hall).
Use the Web Accessibility Initiative's Decision Tree when describing images.
- Do not use the image file name as the alt tag.
- If the image is not a photograph, does not contain text, and serves only as a decoration, use a single space character as its alt tag so that screen readers will skip it silently.
- If the image is linked the alt text should describe the link destination rather than what is represented in the image.
Examples of Proper Alt Tag Description
Front door of UND Memorial Union
Student Success Stories
Three students in front of the library.
Clarity of Text
Content should be concise, consistent, accurate and scannable.
- Only post information when it is complete. Avoid saying "Under Construction" or "Coming Soon."
- Avoid metaphors, puns, jargon, and references which may require explanation.
- Spell out abbreviations upon first reference.
Know Your Audience
You are not your audience. Find out what your audience wants and then structure your site to make it easy for them to find it and take action. Use their language, their terminology, and consider their needs. Keep in mind that your site could serve multiple audiences and you may need to break out content accordingly.
Make Your Site Scannable
People don't read websites, they scan. The average visit on the UND website is just over three minutes. Make it easy for people to find what they need and leave by following these tips:
- Use the inverted pyramid to structure your page. Start with the most important information in the first sentence and paragraph.
- Use subheads, bullets, lists to break out long paragraphs of content.
- Be succinct. Keep it short. Eliminate unnecessary words.
- Only provide what they want. Get rid of clutter.
Proper formatting for complete contact information is as follows:
- Email addresses do not need "Email:" in front of the email address.
- Do not link names to emails. Write out the email address.
- Addresses and phone numbers should always be complete. Do not assume the reader knows UND is located in Grand Forks or that our area code is 701.
- Links to an UND.edu site or mailto (email) links should capitalize UND in the link when it is placed before the backslash (/).
- It is not necessary to include "www" in the URL.
- Do not include the page _contact file if your site if it duplicates the contact information in our footer.
- Left-justify all content with no indentation.
- Use one space between sentences.
- Keep paragraphs short. Two to four sentences are ideal.
- Format using headings where appropriate. Do not use paragraph format and then stylize (e.g. bold, italics) your headings.
- Do not use headings simply to stylize text. Use them to provide an outline and structure to your page.
- Do not include a colon after a heading.
- Provide subheadings (Heading 3, Heading 4) for paragraphs where appropriate to help readers scan the page. Use keywords audiences may search for, e.g. use "Chemical Engineering Objectives" rather than just "Objectives" because headings are more important to search engines than paragraph text.
Lists & Navigation
- Use lists wherever possible so users can quickly scan content.
- List items in logical order. If there isn't an order based on relevance, alphabetize the list.
- Limit the number of items in the navigation. Seven is ideal.
- Include a brief introductory sentence or heading for each list. All content should have context, giving the user a framework to understand it.
As a general rule, open links to UND pages in the same window and open links to external sites or other files (e.g. PDF file) in a new window. The exception to this is linking to third-party UND systems like Campus Connection.
- Place links on descriptive words or phrases rather than stating "Click Here" or showing a full URL (unless using a marketing/vanity URL).
- It is not necessary to include "www" in the URL. If linking to a UND site and not linking descriptive words, capitalize UND in the URL before the backslash (/).
- Limit links to no more than seven words.
- Point links directly to the referenced content. For example, if a link indicates it is taking a user to a form, it should go directly to that form instead of to a page with a list of all forms.
- Link all UND CMS content using the dependency manager tag. This will prevent broken links from happening when pages are moved or renamed.
Example of Using Descriptive Words or Phrases in a Link
Read the "Links" section in our Brand Web Content Guidelines for more information.
Read the links section on this page for more information at https://campus.und.edu/brand/web-content-standards.html
Example of UND URL Capitalization
Example of Proper Descriptive Words or Phrases Linking
- Limit navigation files to seven items or less.
- Use title case for navigation links, not ALL CAPS.
- Prioritize navigation so the most sought-after information is at the top. If there isn't an order based on relevance, alphabetize the list.
- If possible, navigation links should only be one to three words. Ampersands (&) may be used if needed.
- Avoid general words like other, useful information, additional information and miscellaneous.
- Links to external sites can be jarring because they are not in our own site’s information architecture.It is best practice to link only to UND domain pages in the navigation. Avoid linking to external websites from navigation menus. In many cases the purpose of an external link needs explanation beyond the link text itself. It is best to include external links as page content.
A featured item, button, or link in a sidebar as an asset would be acceptable so the external link can be present on all pages of a section. It's best to use only one navigation item under the left navigation. More than that can be difficult for users.
Avoid common web clichés such as:
- Welcome to our site
- Click here
- On this page you will find
- Use the links below
Avoid telling users where they are or what to do. They've used the Internet before. They get it.