June 12, 2007 Webmasters Committee Meeting Minutes
Present: Jill Lenz, Erin Napier, Sallie Varner, and Merry Wright.
Merry Wright, Chair, started the meeting at 9:00 am
- "Writing Right for the Web" Presentation Review
This presentation review is continued from last month's meeting. Jill reviewed slides 26-45 of the presentation.
Recommended Best Practices
- The direct marketing writing style helps people connect ...
- Words like "signs", not "signage". Write for a lower level audience, about 12 grade level.
- Emotional language, "I'm a grad student passionate about the research in ... "
- Real stories about real people, best told by themselves. Examples: videos, MyCSU
- Prompts to take action. Usually not done well. Typically placed in right column of a 3 column layout.
- Tips for Paragraphs
and Subheads (h2-h6)
- The first sentence can stand alone, crafted to capture the user's attention
- One sentence paragraphs are OK
- Keep paragraphs to 50 words or less
- Use active words as subheads to break up content and motivate the user
- Ban print publications as PDFs
- If you can read the text, you can't see the photos. If you can see the photos, you can't read the text. Users don't want to switch back and forth.
- Hard to read up and down multiple columns
- Take the basic content and re-purpose it for the Web
- Copy on the page
- 90% of the time black text on white is best, especially for the basic content area
- Avoid low contrast between text and background whatever the color combination
- Look at the Wikipedia pages for a good example of a Web site that is frequently visited with lots of content yet not over designed
- Sans serif fonts are easier to read quickly, such as Verdana and Arial which were created especially for the Web.
- For a discussion on the pros and cons of typefaces on the Web, see http://kurafire.net/log/archive/2005/07/23/typography-serif-vs-sans-serif
- Most users don't know they have choices on how type appears on the monitor. Many users prefer "Clear Type".
- For Windows users, click on the "Start" button, choose "Control Panel", "Display Properties".
- Under the "Appearance" tab, click on the "Effects" button in the bottom right corner.
- Check the option "Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts:" and choose "Clear Type" from the drop-down menu.
- Scrolling down a Web page is fine when content of continuing interest is unfolding, like Wikipedia.
- When topics change, it might be time for a new page vs. one long Web page. The Don Zimmerman outside Web consultant project will likely identify these types of pages.
ERHS home page revision
Per the best practices discussed last month, Merry reviewed the content on the Department of Environmental Health and Radiological Health Sciences home page and used bulleted lists for the areas of study, instead of them buried in a paragraph. Everyone agreed it was much easier to scan for this information. Merry will continue to make it more user-friendly by making these bulleted points link to existing pages, even if they are repeated in the left-hand navigation.
Paragraphs and Subheads
Jill discussed the content she received for an online continuing education course. Most of the content was written in extremely long paragraphs with little use of subheads. Jill took the liberty to create an example of the content using these best practices. After reviewing the content, she broke the long paragraphs into shorter ones, added lots of subheads and organized content into bullet lists where applicable.
Print publications as PDFs
This presentation encourages the ban of print publications as PDFs. Although we agree that print publications in PDF form are hard to read, we will continue to post them and also supply an HTML version for easier reading on the screen. For example, the college newsletter "Insight" is published twice a year and posted as a PDF and also in HTML. We want to cater to users who want to print the publication in its entirety or a page with a particular article as it appeared in the published hard copy form. For the HTML version, typically the index page is a table of contents with links to individual stories on separate Web pages.
Wikipedia as an example of best practices
We visited the Colorado State University Wikipedia page and we liked the look. In particular, we liked:
- Styles and names of the subheads such as "Academic Programs" and "Notable Faculty"
- 3 column layout
- Abundant use of links in paragraphs
- Tabs across the top like the Ram Point portal (must sign in with your CSU eID to to see the tabs)
We will finish the review of the presentation at the next meeting with a focus on "Search Engine Optimization".
The meeting concluded at 10:05 am.
The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 10th, 9:00-10:00 am, Environmental Health Building Conference Room 120.
Minutes submitted by Jill Lenz.
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