Website redesign best practices
- Your website redesign should revolve around your strategic goals. The site should be designed and built to integrate with other marketing vehicles. These include blogs, e-newsletters, ad campaigns, social media, etc.
- Websites should be within the Marquette brand. This helps users recognize that you’re part of Marquette and goes a long way toward building credibility and trust with them. When a site is consistent and professionally designed, users can find the information they’re looking for more easily, and they’re more likely to return to the site or want to further interact with you. Learn about Web technical standards used when designing university websites.
Follow a content management plan.
- There should be one or two people in your department who have the authority to make approvals and changes. Once a website redesign is complete, this person should be in charge of updating and managing the content or designate somebody to do so. This helps maintain consistency and continuity from semester to semester. It’s best not to have a student in this position, though students can certainly help with updates.
- Content should be geared mainly to an external audience. If internal content must be posted, clearly label sections for internal audiences or hide internal content by not linking to it from the larger site. You can still share the link to the content.
- Don’t underestimate the amount of time and energy it takes to keep a site’s content updated.
Use a flat directory structure with the following naming conventions for file names and folders:
- images (all images for the site go here)
- documents (all PDFs and other non-webpage file types go here)
- sitename_global.css (Keep all styles in one document, and don’t overwrite the styles in the main document. This keeps your site consistent from page to page and helps users learn how your site works and find your content.)
- All includes go here. Includes are small chunks of code that are repeatedly used throughout a site. Examples include navigation, headers and footers.
- Code should follow modern Web standards.
- Content and functionality are separate from design.
- Design is controlled by CSS — code changes are not required to change the design.
- Use the absolute links, especially in navigation and include files. This way, if you move a page to a new directory or up or down a level in your site, it will still work. Absolute links start at the site root.
- This is an absolute link: /omc/bestpractices-web-redesigns.php
- This is a full path link: http://marquette.edu/omc/bestpractices-web-redesigns.php
Avoid these unless you are linking to a different site. If you use these while you’re working on the development server, you run the risk of broken links when you deploy the site to production.
- This is a relative link: ../index.php. We recommend avoiding relative links when linking.
Sites should be built to be search engine friendly.
- Minimum standards:
- All pages should have:
- Unique page titles
- A logical hierarchy of headings and subheadings
- Meta info and description that is unique to each page
- Images with alt text
- Don’t use “click here” to label your links.
- The directory structure of your site should be flat.
- Navigation and menus must be built so they write the HTML to each page. In other words, there should be no dynamic navigation — search engine spiders can’t follow it.
See the SEO section for more details and specific best practices related to SEO.
If working with an outside vendor:
- Choose from the OMC-approved list.
- Let OMC help with reviews and approvals.
Should follow a standard roadmap:
- Structure, design
- Analyze, research, reiterate and keep fresh