Understand Your Purpose and Audience
Guideline: Identify and clearly articulate the primary goals of the website before beginning the design or content creation process.
- Ensure the content meets user expectations.
- Do not use words that typical users may not understand.
- Do not use unfamiliar or undefined acronyms or abbreviations.
- Compose sentences in active rather than passive voice.
Guideline: Do not have unsolicited windows or graphics ‘pop-up’ to users.
- Links should open in the same window.
- Links to Word documents [.doc], PDF files [.pdf], Excel spreadsheets [.xls], Zip files [.zip], etc., should be clearly labeled as such to indicate to the user that a download or non-html file load will take place.
Provide Text Equivalents for Non-Text Elements
Guideline: Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element that conveys information. This means descriptive alternative and title text for images, videos, and even text links.
Avoid Cluttered Displays
Guideline: Create pages that are not considered cluttered by users.
- Use bold text only when it is important to draw the user’s attention to a specific piece of information. Do not bold entire sentences or paragraphs.
- Images should be relevant to the content and add value to the information presented.
- Information should be logically organized with descriptive headers.
- Use normal capitalization and punctuation. WE DON’T USE ALL CAPS ON THE WEBSITE.
Establish Level of Importance
Guideline: Establish a high-to-low level of importance for information and infuse this approach throughout each page on the website. Research shows users scan (vs. read) Web content. Make your content easily scannable.
- Include the primary theme and scope in the first sentence of each paragraph.
- Arrange lists and tasks in an order that best facilitates efficient and successful user performance.
- Place a list’s most important items at the top.
- Display a series of related items in a vertical list rather than as continuous text.
- Provide an introductory heading at the top of each list.
Set Appropriate Page Lengths
Guideline: Make page-length decisions that support the primary use of the Web page. Break up large pages by using document structure appropriate headers (in the correctly nested order) and bullet lists. Use descriptive headers liberally. Evaluate breaking large blocks of copy into multiple pages.
- Use link labels and concepts that are meaningful, understandable, and easily differentiated by users.
- “Chemistry degree plan” vs “click here to learn more about our chemistry degree requirements”
- Provide links to other pages in the website with related content.
- Make the link text consistent with the title or headings on the destination (target) page.
- Items that are not clickable should not appear to be. Do not underline text for emphasis.
- Use text links rather than image links (“buttons”).