CMS Best Practices
- Tailor your site to showcase high-traffic items. Most users are coming to your site with a task in mind. If they can’t find it, they can’t click it.
- Review your navigation. As you add pages to your site, the navigation tends to grow out of control. What makes sense to you and people in your department doesn’t necessarily make sense to your users.
- When copying and pasting content from Microsoft Word, take a few extra seconds and paste it into a text editor like Notepad first. Pasting content directly from Word typically adds a significant amount of "junk code" to your page, and will make it difficult to control page formatting later on.
- Update pages regularly - statistics, numbers, and examples all need to be recent or credibility suffers.
Putting page content in an image should not be a replacement for actual text. Screen readers and search engine crawlers are not able to “read“ any content contained in an image. For example, use text instead of:
- Use concise writing. Most users scan text as opposed to reading every word.
- Short paragraphs, bulleted lists, headings and subheadings can make a page much easier to read than if it was a large block of text.
- Use bold text for emphasis – within reason. If everything is important enough to be bolded, then nothing should be.
- Avoid using “click here” in links. Instead, link the most descriptive words in the sentence to the file, page or external site. A visitor then has the appropriate context without additional reading.
- Web users can enter a site at any page and move between pages as they choose. Therefore, every page needs to be independent without assuming that the previous page has been seen by the user.
- Consistency is key. Using a multitude of fonts, colors and sizes detracts from your site.
- Use “browser safe” fonts like Arial, Courier New, Georgia and Times New Roman/Times. Picking a less common font may result in a user seeing the page very differently than you intended.
- Font size is important. Text that is too small is hard to read, and text that is too big takes up too much space.
- Make links noticeable. Don’t override the specified link color so they “blend in” with your content.
- Don't underline text that is not a link. People associate underlined text with links – make it obvious what’s clickable.
- Linking to another page on your site? Don't have the link open a new window. New windows do not "remember" a user's browsing history.
- Large photos can greatly increase the time required to load a page. Always resize photos with tools like PicResize.com, Photoshop.com or image manipulation software before posting them on your site.
- "Resizing" a large photo by specifying a smaller height and width is insufficient. The browser still has to load the entire file, then compress it to the size specified.
- Get into the habit of using “alt” tags on images, to assist users that have vision difficulty.
Page last modified September 22, 2011