9 Easy Tips for Effective Gustavus Websites

Posted on September 30th, 2010 by

For most people, putting together a website is a pretty big project; putting together an effective website can be a Herculean effort. We hope you consider these easy tips to make sure all of your effort is focused where it counts.

Titles are important

Page title section in Contribute

Actually, titles are the most important part of any page. They not only are one of the highest weighted parts of the page by search engines, titles show up as the link text in search engines–so that is what people will read when they make a search and determine if your page is what they are looking for. The rest of your content doesn’t matter if nobody finds it. Like the subject of an e-mail, titles should be descriptive and concise, and made out of actual text–not an image.

People scan, so break up large chunks of text

F-shaped pattern. Image from Jakob Nielsen's useit.com

People read the web differently than a printed document–basically, they are less engaged and scan everything. In fact, eye tracking studies show that people scan web pages in an F-shaped pattern. In 2006, the research showed that you have 4 seconds to communicate what you need to and I’m guessing that number has only gotten smaller. Therefore, it is very important to use headings and lists to break up large chunks of text, and be concise.

Use headings

While headings help with scanning, they are also important for search engines and are very helpful for people who have vision problems and are using a screen reader. Remember that headings are¬†hierarchical–heading 1 being the topmost level and heading 6 being the innermost level. For Gustavus pages, start at heading 2 and work your way down to 6.

Never use “click here”

Once again, never use “click here” for your links. It is far better to use more descriptive text.

JPEG = photos, PNG = graphics

Photos should be JPEG format, graphics should be PNG format. If we are creating your pages for you, please send us any images you want to use in their original size and format (the larger the better, it is always bad to enlarge images).

We love making banners for you

If you want banners on your homepage (like the Music department or the Chaplains’ Office), just let us know what you have in mind and we would love to produce something that fits your needs. As a general rule, we only put banners on your main page but not on subsequent internal pages.

Events need to be in the College Calendar

Calendar events syndicated onto the Global Insight page

If you have any events, you need to submit them to the College Calendar. They will not only automatically receive a lot more publicity just by being there (we pull calendar events to a lot of places on the website and send out a daily e-mail newsletter with events in it), but we can pull just your events onto your website (like we are with Global Insight). This is very customizable.

Additionally, events on the College Calendar will show up next to your pages in Google search results.

Blogs are incredible

Blogging is the perfect way to keep fresh content on your website and engage your visitors. Your posts will be syndicated all over the Gustavus website (like calendar events), and we can pull them onto your homepage or wherever you want them. Blogs are very easy to use and ridiculously flexible–we are using them for so much these days. All of the news on the whole website is powered by blogs. The Philosophy department is using blogs in an interesting way–they have a category set up for “Where are they now?” posts about alumni. We then pull random posts from this category onto the Philosophy website (in the Aux Box–the green area at the bottom–in this case).

Profiles

Lisa Heldke's profile

Your profiles are an incredibly important part of the Gustavus website. Needless to say, they give your department some personality and they allow people to get to know you. Make sure your profile has a good photo and a biography. All employees can edit their own profiles, or if you prefer we can do that for you–just send us what you want on there.

Profiles have been quite successful at Gustavus. Departments that have utilized them on their website have reported students coming in who feel like they already know the people there. Some faculty have even been invited to present at events because of their profiles.

 


3 Comments

  1. Lisa Heldke says:

    Let the record show that the PHILOSOPHY department is using a TECHNOLOGY!

  2. Mary Virginia Cooley says:

    What are the specs for building a banner? I’m looking at updating the Firethorne website, and I’m betting we have enough talent on our staff to build our own banner!