Website Tips

Creating a New Bellevue College Website

A website is defined as a page or group of pages related to a division, department, or other campus group. Websites are for a primarily student audience, although certain sites may also orient towards employees or the BC community.

Information Technology Services and Institutional Advancement can help you through the process of creating a new website. A good first step is to gather together draft content for your site. Once you have an idea of the information you need to present, submit a request center ticket so that the process can start.

Publishing for All Devices

Many of our employees and students use phones and tablets to access our website. We have designed our website to resize to fit any device, and you need to keep this in mind when designing your content.

  • Remember that layouts are fluid – just because something is in a certain place on your computer doesn’t mean that it will look the same on someone’s phone
  • Avoid using images that have text in them; the text may be readable when the image is large, but it must also be readable on a two-inch wide phone. You can check your layouts by resizing the browser window to a narrow width.
  • Do not use content that relies on proprietary technology like Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight. These technologies are not available on most mobile devices.

Creating Content

Creating content for a website is very different than writing for other media. Most users scan web content instead of reading, end to end. Keep your user in mind when developing content. Think about what they want to accomplish, and how you can help them get the information they need.

  • Make sure the title of the page is relevant to the information on it.
  • Use the title of the page, or a shortened version of it, as the link for that page.
  • Use an introductory paragraph when necessary. Otherwise, let the header be the introduction to the content on the page. Never “welcome” people to a page or section of the website.
  • Provide easy-to-read and easy-to-scan content.
  • Lead with your topic or idea.
  • Use sentence fragments sparingly.
  • Remove ambiguity – Have someone else read the information prior to posting to see if it really makes sense.
  • Be clear and direct when writing copy and headlines.
  • Avoid using jargon or acronyms.
  • Use an active voice. For example, avoid: The tuition increase proposed by the campus was approved by the Board. Preferred: The Board approved the tuition increase the campus proposed.

Writing Guidelines

Writing for a website is not the same as writing for print. Consider the following:

  • Assign one topic to each paragraph.
  • Write short paragraphs, less than 50 words. One-sentence paragraphs are acceptable.
  • Use headings and subheadings whenever possible to direct users and organize content.
  • Be mindful that writing is a creative endeavor. There is no single right or wrong way to write.
  • Keep content current. Outdated or incomplete content can damage the credibility and usefulness of the entire site.
  • Each piece of content and each image should support BC’s mission, key messages and goals.

Lists and Tables

List and tables add structure but a few key rules should be applied:

  • If the order does not matter, use bullets. If the order does matter, number the items.
  • Try to limit lists to nine items or fewer. If your list ends up with more than three tiers, consider rewriting it.
  • Always capitalize the first letter of bulleted items. If the bulleted item is a complete sentence, capitalize the first letter and add a period. In a bulleted list, the bullet is the punctuation. No other punctuation is needed to separate items.
  • Avoid using tables as a design element; this type of design is incompatible with mobile devices and assistive technology.
  • If you use tables, include your most important labels/information in the first column, as people tend to scan the left side of tables first.

Design and Formatting

Elements that are important to the design of a user-friendly website include:

  • Avoid centered text; it can be hard to read. Website content should be flush left for constancy.
  • Avoid overuse of boldface and italics. Italicized words can be difficult for visually-impaired users to read. Limit use to citing books, articles or journals.
  • Never type in all capital letters.
  • Enthusiasm is great! However, please do not use more than one exclamation point on a page.
  • Don’t emphasize too much. Too many headers, bullets and paragraphs can make a page unorganized and confusing. Emphasize content sparingly.

Links

A hyperlink is a word, group of words or an image that a user can click on to get more information – whether it is another web page, a PDF or other document.

  • Avoid using “Click here,” as hyperlink text. For example, avoid: Click here for meeting materials. Preferred: August 8, Board of Trustees meeting materials
  • Links should be five to seven words. If you have more than five links together, group them.
  • Avoid saying “Use the links above.” Grouping them is more helpful for the user.
  • Consider placing links in a way a visitor would use them. For example: “Where can I find [topic]?” or “I want to [topic].”
  • Avoid displaying URLs directly – instead use an informative text link.

File Formats for Documents and Images

File format and the name of the file are two important components to consider when placing documents on the web. All files should be in PDF, Word or txt formats, with PDF being preferred.

  • Only use Word documents if the user is expected to edit the document in some way; save as a PDF if the user is only expected to view the document.
  • Files should also be named relevant to the information they provide. Avoid using special characters (/, &, #, etc.) or spaces. Instead of spaces, use an underscore. For example, avoid: 2378549.rtf. Preferred: 08-15-2012_bog_meeting.pdf
  • Consistency of website images is also important in enhancing website quality. Web images should be 72 or 96 dpi (dots per inch) resolution. Using photos that are too small or too large can cause undesirable design and technical issues that result in a web page not looking its best.
  • Images for use in slideshows should be at least 1200 x 500 pixels at 72 dpi.

Last Updated April 9, 2018