Web Page Authoring and Design Guidelines
Web publishing is just that, publishing. And just as you would not intentionally publish a departmental brochure with errors and blank pages, you should not publish web pages with typos and substantially incomplete sections. And while the principles of readability and design that apply to print communications definitely have a place in web documents, the web offers additional challenges to the web page author and designer.
Chief among these is the ability of the viewer to click instantly to another location at the first hint of wordiness or boredom. Web authors should be concise and to the point with their text. Paragraphs should be short and numerous. Use headings and graphics to break up your text. Offer your viewer multiple points of visual entry into your document.
Page creators should also be conscious of how easily their pages can be navigated. Links back to the UTC homepage, to the relevant section homepage, and, particularly in long pages, back to the top of the page should always be included.
Graphic images should include ALT text tags for the benefit of those using text-only browsers.
A diverse community
UTC is a diverse community of faculty, staff, and students. Page authors are reminded that images used in University web pages should reflect the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of the campus.
Grammatical style should follow the guidelines set forth for University publications and printed materials. In brief, note
- Use UTC (without periods) or the complete name, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, when referring to the University in web pages. Do not use UT Chattanooga or other shortened or hyphenated forms (UT-Chatt, for example).
- When the full name is used, The is part of the legal name and is capitalized.
- University is capitalized in general usage when referring specifically to UTC. Lowercase when referring to other universities.
- Use figures for numbers 10 or higher. Spell out numbers below 10.
- Avoid excessive capitalization.
- Avoid sexist words and terms.
Rules for graphics
Consider access speed
An important consideration for any web page design is download time. The web page author should keep in mind that many users will be accessing pages over phone lines using 28.8k modems. This is particularly true now with services such as AOL offering web access to their customers.
Excessive use of graphic images, especially large graphic images or graphic backgrounds, will sharply increase download time for these users. A graphics-intensive page that builds in quickly over a campus ethernet connection may take many minutes to build on a home computer. Over a 14.4 modem, you can figure on a second per kilobyte to download a graphics image.
Write for XHTML 1.1 standards.
To ensure readability across browsers, use caution when specifying the browser specific tags, that are not widely supported. Alienating potential readers by using tags only supported by one particular browser is not the way to get your page content read. Given the choice of clicking to another page or spending 30 minutes downloading and installing a new browser, most will chose to hit the mouse button.
Avoid graphic and dark colored backgrounds.
Unless done with care, placing type over a graphic background only decreases the readability of your message. It's easy to find many examples of web pages where the content is almost completely obscured by a busy and annoying background, not to mention that the background has the additional penalty of increasing download time.
The background color for UTC web pages is white.
Avoid reversed type.
Reversed type (white or light-colored type in a dark background) is harder to read and decreases the readability of a page. As when designing for print, reversed type and type printed over background images — i.e., any type technique that decreases readability — should only be used when absolutely essential to the content and message, not simply done because it's possible.
Do not exceed 760 pixels wide.
Remember the average user is still using a relatively small monitor at home (15") at SVGA resolution levels (800x600). By not using the full width of 800, you are taking into consideration that the browser uses some of that for itself, as well some people do not run their browser at full screen sizes. The finished size of images or graphics should not exceed this width.
Do not exceed 100k per page.
To minimize download time, do not exceed 100k in the sum of all the pictures and graphics appearing in a single page. Try not to exceed a download time of 10 seconds, based on the use of a 28.8K modem, which is still what the average user has.
Do not use more than 256 colors on each page.
GIF images can support no more than 256 colors (8-bit). Note that many images can be saved at seven, or even lower, bit depths without a highly noticeable loss of display quality. Lower bit depths mean smaller file sizes, which speed downloading.
Use RGB or solid colors.
Use RGB or Pantone (PMS) colors when developing graphics. CMYK colors may be excessively dithered, and become unacceptably fuzzy, when converting to GIF format. The standard UTC colors in RGB values are:
Official UTC Colors
|Color||PMS||RGB (decimal)||RGB (hex)||Sample|
|Blue||295||0 / 56 / 107||#00386B|
|Gold||124||224 / 170 / 15||#E0AA0F|
|White||255 / 255 / 255||#FFFFFF|
|Gray||429||173 / 175 / 170||#ADAFAA|
|Black||0 / 0 / 0||#000000|
Save at 96 dpi.
Save final images for web use at 96 dpi. This is the maximum resolution for screen displays. Higher res graphics will only slow download time with no increase in screen display quality.
Save as interlaced.
Save large GIFs as interlaced. Browsers support interlacing, displaying graphics in stages, from low to highest resolution. This allows the viewer to begin scrolling without having to wait for the entire graphic to download.
Use image size tags.
Specifying the height and width tags for your graphics will speed downloading.