Web Best Practices
The Digital Brand
Thoughtful web publishing inside the Gato Content Management System (CMS) is crucial to achieving a consistent look for Texas State's digital communications. Although Texas State comprises many colleges, departments and offices, it is a single institution. A consistent look conveys a professional image and strengthens our brand.
Our websites are conceived using a compelling and thoughtful design system that elevates the university's brand, and is built to scale as digital standards evolve and new functionality is offered.
Web publishing inside a CMS simplifies many of the complex tasks that typically go into making a website work. But it's still possible to make some common mistakes. Keep these general thoughts in mind as you create and build your web identity.
- Find out what your audience needs and strongly center your department’s website on those needs.
- Set up Google Analytics to get audience demographics, analyze the strength of your pages and learn what devices your users use to access your site. Gato support can help you set it all up.
- Don’t assume that users know your department’s internal structures, terminology or branding. They almost certainly do not.
- Focus the users’ attention on what’s important to them. Tell users what is unique and important about your area of expertise, but do so without getting in their way.
Access to information for persons with disabilities is an essential component of Texas State's commitment to a barrier-free learning environment. As a public institution, we constantly strive to meet local and national accessibility standards.
Gato templates are universally accessible when using the standard tools. If you make site customizations, be sure you are educated on the implications for site accessibility.
Check out the resources below.
- Plan your content strategy! Navigation should present the minimum number of choices necessary with short, yet descriptive labels.
- Use established conventions in labeling, layout and function that are familiar to your audience.
- Establish a logical hierarchy of information with similar information clearly grouped for easy consumption. Your entire site, or nearly all of it, should be available and comprehensible from the main navigation.
- Test your site and get feedback from users and stakeholders whenever possible.
- Make your writing simple, free of internal jargon and no longer than it has to be.
- Break your content up into digestible blocks and use headers and hierarchy so your users can scan for the content they need.
- Be methodical. Always strive to streamline, edit and improve your content before simply adding more.
- Make your URLs brief; use only lowercase lettering and hyphens.
- Images are important; definitely use them! Just be sure to avoid visual clutter that will keep your users from getting what they want. All images should add to the users’ experience.
Many Gato websites are edited by temporary staff or student workers. As such, it is vital that editors build and manage pages with maintainability in mind.
- Leverage the baked-in Gato tools as much as possible before resorting to HTML/CSS customizations or site "hacks". Ask your peer editors or contact our web experts for advice.
- Do not use tables for layout purposes. Tables should be used for data only. Update table-based layouts to multi-column section layouts.
- Organize your website's backend as though it was public. Remove pages that no longer serve a purpose, or at least put them all inside an archive folder and deactivate.
- Always test your site on mobile devices or smaller screens, especially if you've made customizations.
- Confused? Get the training you need to be a successful web publisher.