(rev. Apr 2013)
- Best Practices for Contribute-enabled Sites
- Requirements for Site Handoffs from Outside Vendors
- Other Resources for General Design Advice
- Use HTML5 responsive code as validated by the W3C. Do not use deprecated code.
Justification: Current standard. Use of validated, responsive code ensures better compatibility across browsers and devices, as well as ensuring better search engine optimization (SEO).
- Test and deem acceptable on all browsers supported by the
Justification: Providing full support for older browsers significantly infringes upon our ability to implement the more advanced interactive features our users are expecting. We request that users upgrade to the latest version supported by the University or switch to another supported browser such as Firefox or Safari.
Exceptions: Mobile devices; Other exceptions can be made for intranet applications so long as they are clearly spelled out in the “technical requirements” section.
- Design for a minimum screen resolution of 1024x768.
Justification: As of this writing, according to our latest usage statistics on the SOM web server, over 98% of our viewers use a screen resolution of 1024x768 or higher.
Exceptions: Mobile devices.
Helpful tools: Firefox Web Developer tool has an auto-resizing tool
- Specify font size in rems instead of points; reserve points for the print style sheet only, if needed.
Justification: Accessibility; cross-browser/device compatibility; allowing the user to specify font size via his/her browser preferences.
Exceptions: IE fallbacks
- Ensure that basic accessibility rules are met - e.g., use ALT tags for all images and provide alternative text for all images that contain textual information.
Exceptions: Sites where the audience is pre-selected to not include those with visual disabilities - e.g., the Admissions Status page or small-scale intranet applications whose user base is known and unlikely to change.
- Ensure that all pages have a unique title. Use meta tags where appropriate.
Justification: Aids in search engine indexing
Supporting literature: 8 great on-page SEO techniques
- Avoid use of Flash, Ajax, or other similar technologies where it is superfluous and interferes with the user experience. Do not design Flash-only sites or Flash intro pages.
Justification: Accessibility; printability; compatibility with some mobile devices and tablets; Flash content may be hidden to some users and to search engines; the inappropriate use of Flash (e.g., Flash intro pages) may delay the users' ability to get to the content they are looking for; browser features such as "Find in Page" and text translators will not work on Flash content; text is often not resizable in Flash.
Exceptions: Flash, Ajax, etc. may be appropriate for certain limited applications.
- Avoid use of frames and iframes.
Justification: Accessibility; makes printing, bookmarking, and searching difficult; bad for SEO.
Exceptions: When there is no viable alternative to using an iframe.
- Warn user of links to documents that require a plugin or external application (e.g., PDF, DOC, MOV) and provide file sizes if unusually large.
Justification: Users may have slower connection speeds or lack the plugin needed.
Exceptions: If an entire list of items is of the same document type, a warning at the top of the list is sufficient.
- Avoid using the underline tag or style except as a style for links.
Justification: Underlining items which are not links is confusing to the user since the convention on the web is that only links are underlined.
Supporting literature: Avoid underlining for emphasis on websites
Best Practices for Contribute-enabled Sites
- Avoid using tables to place objects on the page; use CSS instead and reserve the use of tables for tabular data.
Justification: Accessibility; separation of content and format; code is less complicated than using tables; allows for more design control in Contribute.
Supporting literature: http://phrogz.net/CSS/WhyTablesAreBadForLayout.html, http://www.westciv.com/style_master
Justification: Content used within these technologies is often not editable in Contribute, presenting a potential maintenance issue for PMACS.
Exceptions: Interactive content that requires this technology; small-scale intranet applications whose user base is known and unlikely to change; sites which already have an experienced Web Designer on staff or which plan to contract out for ongoing maintenance.
- Limit the use of custom styles in favor of predefined HTML tags.
Justification: Use of custom styles requires that we explicitly allow access to those styles in Contribute (which we don’t normally do since this can be used improperly and requires more setup and user training).
Exceptions: Sites not maintained via Contribute; styles applied outside of editable fields in the Dreamweaver template; custom styles that do not map to an existing HTML tag - in this case, these styles can be placed in a separate style sheet that the editor can access via Contribute.
Requirements for Site Handoffs from Outside Vendors
- Provide original images (PSD, EPS, etc.)
- Provide original documents used to produce PDFs, Flash applications, etc.
- Provide a mapping of original images to corresponding web graphics.
- Provide a mapping of fonts used in each image.
- Provide all Dreamweaver templates.