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. While some pages might cater to a tertiary audience member (such as HR job listings or an alumni event page), it should be understood that the entire website is an admissions tool, and that every page on the BC website is a potential landing page for a prospective student. By approaching any and all web content with this mindset, you can ensure your words and visuals will be clear, accurate and on brand. Read more about BC’s audience and gain tips on writing for the web.
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 want to present, submit a service desk 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. Learn more in our accessibility section.
- 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 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.
For in-depth guidelines and tips on writing compelling content, read our Writing for the Web page. Consider these tips to get started:
- 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 it would be useful for the user. 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 BC jargon or acronyms – assume the user is unfamiliar with them.
- 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.
Common BC Website Sections/Pages
Use the following list of common sections/pages to spark ideas for your website:
- About Us: opportunity to provide detail about program and staff
- Contact Us
- Contact info is required on the homepage, but many sites also have a page devoted to providing info for individual staff or component programs.
- Location Info and Hours (required for customer-facing programs and can be useful for others)
- Resources (such as helpful additional info/links for users)
- Staff Listing
- Sometimes this is all users are looking for! Check out the “Staff” section of the WordPress editor for an easy way to create this page.
- Statement of Site Purpose
- Present this first on your page. The goal is to answer the question: “What is this website?”
- Mission statements are often a bit wordy, so we suggest a more conversational description.
- Admissions Process (especially important for selective admission programs)
- Staff Scheduling
- There are a variety of ways to implement automated scheduling through BC websites. Ask for more info!
- Student Testimonials
- For programs that serve students, testimonials are a powerful way to engage users. If you want to include their photo, make sure to complete the BC photo release form, and don’t disclose FERPA protected information.
- Course Info
- Great way to generate interest in your program. We suggest listing common courses instead of every course, and using the course blocks in the editor to insert each course individually rather than linking to your program in the ctcLink catalog (doesn’t always catch every course).
- Degrees and Certificates: detail on specific program offerings
- How can your students get targeted help?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) can help answer some common questions
- Program Outcomes/Careers
- Sell your program! Go through all the wonderful benefits and the great opportunities it generates. This is a good place to brag about your successful graduates and their great careers, although remember not to include promissory language.
- Events: promote events of interest to your users
- Social Media/RSS
- Can be a nice addition (and way to publicize your accounts), but it’s important that the account post frequently or its utility drops significantly.
- Our Social Media Guidelines offer more great tips, and some requirements for having and maintaining social media accounts.
- Clubs: invite students to join the BC community and engage their interest in enjoyable ways
Writing for a website is not the same as writing for print. For in-depth guidelines and tips, read our Writing for the Web page.
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.
- 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.
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. For more detailed information, read our section on links on the Writing for the Web page.
- Links should be five to seven words. If you have more than five links together, group them.
- 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.
Preferred File Formats
File format and the name of the file are two important components to consider when placing documents on the web. WordPress maintains a running catalog of supported file types.
- Only use Word documents if the user is expected to edit the document in some way.
- Are you considering uploading a PDF? Read about when to use a PDF and how to make it accessible.
- Files should 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 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 September 13, 2022