The University of Memphis website is a major vehicle for presenting our campus to the world. It is part marketing tool, part information source, and is accessible to anyone in the world, anytime, anyplace. As such, official University websites must present professional, relevant content in a consistently designed, easily navigable context.
Following the guidelines presented here will:
- build a strong, unified image for the University;
- ensure that the content provided on University websites is relevant and appropriate;
- assist in making the user experience pleasant; and
- help campus websites communicate more effectively with their audiences.
Content is the most important part of a website—a site's reason for existing. Content on University of Memphis websites should adhere to the following guidelines.
Text Optimization. Content displayed on websites should be written specifically for the web as a medium. Content that has been written for print does not always translate well to the web. The following are some ways to optimize your text for web:
- Keep it brief. Short sentences without extraneous words work best. If the topic warrants, use the pyramid structure by keeping summary information on primary pages, then linking to pages with in-depth information.
- “Chunk" content into categories, and display the different content chunks on separate pages or clearly separate them on one page.
- Make text scannable by breaking text out into bulleted lists, bolding important terms and using headings.
Relevance. Web users are on a mission to find information. Make it as easy as possible for your users to find information on your site—keep content on an individual web page relevant to its page title. Avoid including additional information that is unrelated to a page's main topic—create a new page and link to it.
Do not include links to pages that have not yet been constructed or upload pages that are “under construction." Every page should contain useful information, and pages should be fully formed before they are uploaded and linked.
Timeliness. Keep your web pages up to date. Remove time sensitive information promptly after it expires. Where applicable, use a date of last update mark so users will know that content on your page is fresh.
Appropriateness. Remember, your document will be accessible to anyone on the Internet. Your document represents you, your department and the University of Memphis, and it should be professional and consistent with the rest of the University's websites.
On U of M websites, do not post material that might be reasonably considered abusive, profane, harassing, or sexually offensive. Please see the violations section for information pertaining to consequences.
Multimedia (sound, video, animations, Flash). Multimedia on University websites should be used as a content element, not as a design element.
Examples of multimedia as content include:
- Sound files for instructional purposes
- Interactive training sites
- Instructional video
Examples of multimedia as design include:
- Introductory Flash “splash” pages
- Background music embedded in a page
Photography. U of M web developers are encouraged to use photography on their sites.
Optimize your photographs for web viewing by sizing them to the exact height and width at which they will be displayed. Setting size parameters within the HTML code or through a program like Dreamweaver will most likely distort the photograph, increase load time for the page, and could result in your page not displaying as expected.
Photography should be appropriate to the subject matter of your website.
If you have photography needs, please contact the University Photographer at email@example.com.
A website's design can enhance or hinder the user experience. In addition, the design assists in bringing continuity across the entirety of the University's websites.
Color. Blue and grey are the official colors of the University of Memphis. The closest HTML code approximations for the official colors are #0D3182 for blue and #888C8F for grey. To unify our communications, the University employs a stripe element consisting of blue and black. Official U of M websites should incorporate blue, grey, and the stripe element in their design scheme.
HTML codes for other colors on the current U of M website are as follows:
Light blue: #8698C0
Light grey: #D7D7D7
Avoid using other colors as your site’s dominant design elements.
Logo Usage. When the University of Memphis wordmark appears on a website, it must do so in accordance with Brand Standards (http://www.memphis.edu/logo).
The wordmark is the only official University mark approved for non-athletic and non-alumni websites. The University seal and the secondary logo must not appear on any website. The only exception is on the Brand Standards websites where both marks are shown for illustrative purposes.
Fonts. The University's websites use Trebuchet MS as the default font.
While content is the most important part of the web, visitors will not be able to easily access content if the site has poor navigation. To ensure a positive user experience, the following steps are recommended:
- Use a menu that directs users to the main topics of your site. Repeat the menu consistently throughout your site.
- Do not include every page on your site in the menu, unless your site has a small number of pages. Too many links can overwhelm users.
- Include clearly marked links to the unit's home page and to the University's home page.
- Include a site map or A-Z list.
Meta content is vitally important to websites as this is a primary tool that search engines use to gather results.
Examples of meta content are:
- page title
- page description
- alt parameters within <img> tags for images
Page titles are required for U of M websites, and alt parameters within <img> tags are an accessibility requirement. Use keywords and page descriptions in the header sections of web pages to ensure proper indexing and classification by search engines.
Widely accepted standards exist for making web content accessible, primarily for disabled users. Accessibility allows for people to visit your site with devices other than a web browser, such as a screen reader.
For a good summary of things you can do to ensure your site is accessible, visit the Tennessee.gov Accessibility Guidelines site: http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/tnanytime/accessibility/index.html or the web Accessibility Initiative's Quick Tips to Make Accessible websites page: http://www.w3.org/WAI/References/QuickTips/Overview.php.
Web Content Security
Web pages containing or collecting sensitive or confidential information must be hosted on a secure web server (https). The content of web pages viewed on normal, unsecured web server URLs (http) transmit information in clear text and could be intercepted and read by an intermediate party. Examples of University information that must use secure, encrypted web URLs include student IDs, passwords, and credit card information.
If it comes to the University's attention that a web page violates University policy (see policies in resources section), then the page's webmaster or author will be notified and asked to remedy the problem. If the problem is not remedied, the University will sever the link between the problem page and the U of M main pages. In some instances, this may entail severing the complete unit link.
If you need guidance or interpretations regarding compliance, or if you wish to report a page which violates university policy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.