Digital Content Standards
Like every communication tool, the UND website needs to follow certain identity standards.
Most UND websites are hosted in Omni (Modern Campus), UND's content management system. Omni has standard templates that adhere to Brand Standards. However, since site content is flexible, specific web content standards have been established.
- 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).
Content Style Guide
Please consult the Writing Guidelines for general text style recommendations and the Identity Guidelines for graphics and photography help. In addition, the following style guidelines are recommended for UND websites.
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).
- 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.
- Background images added using style sheets are ignored by screen readers and do not require alt tags.
Example of Proper Alt Tag Description
Front door of UND Memorial Union
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."
- Do not include a welcome message. Example: "Welcome to the Department of Biology website."
- Avoid metaphors, puns, industry or programmatic jargon, and references which may require explanation.
- People don't read websites, they scan. Put the most important information at the top of the page (inverse pyramid style).
- Keep content as short as possible.
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.
Addresses should always be complete. Do not assume the reader knows UND is located in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
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.
Formatting Lists vs. Paragraphs
- Left-justify paragraphs with no indentation.
- Format your headings properly by using headings. Do not use paragraph format and then stylize (e.g. bold, italics) your headings.
- 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.
- Do not include a colon ":" after a heading.
- Keep paragraphs short (two to four sentences are ideal).
- 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.
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.
- Place links on descriptive words or phrases rather than stating "Click Here" or showing a full URL (unless using a 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 and use keywords for describing the link.
- Include a title for all links.
- 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.
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: https://campus.und.edu/brand/web-content-standards.html
Example of UND URL Capitalization
Example of Proper Descriptive Words or Phrases Linking
- The site navigation (aka primary, top, or horizontal) should be your highest order of navigation and remain consistent across all pages. Section (aka subnav, left/right, vertical or local) navigation may shift or expand from folder to folder.
- Use title case for navigation links, not ALL CAPS.
- Prioritize navigation so the most sought-after information is at the top. For example: About, Contact Us and Mission should come after Program, Degree and Course Information. 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.
- It is best practice to link only to UND domain pages in the navigation. Avoid linking
to external websites from navigation menus.
- Links to external sites can be jarring because they are not in our own site’s information architecture. Imagine stepping into an elevator in a hotel but stepping out of the same elevator to an office building .
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.
- Keep in mind that the site's design may someday add icons or text to links that point to external sites which could disrupt how those links appear in a navigation menu.
Section/side navigation “is used to show users their current location in the IA (information architecture) of the site, along with sibling and child pages”. [Quoted from nNgroup's article on Local Navigation.]
End users expect to use navigation to browse the site "locally".
Avoid Web Cliches
- Welcome to our site ...
- Click here
- On this page you will find ...
Avoid telling users where they are or what to do. They've used the Internet before. They get it.