L&S Web Style Guide
This guide is provided by the L&S Web Team and pertains to the use of the original Letters and Science Web ID. Its purpose is to provide a base style for the College of Letters and Science web presence. More styles and options will be added as we encounter different design opportunities and issues. If there is a style or item you feel we’re missing, please provide feedback to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Styles presented in this guide refer largely to L&S Theme 1. However, Theme 1 and 2 share some commonalities. For those styles exclusive to Theme 2, see the web style guide’s section on L&S Theme 2.
Writing & Designing for the Web
Statistics about Web Viewers
The average web viewer does not stay on any one web page for more than 60 seconds, regardless of industry, web content, or visuals. Because of this, it is important to help the viewer understand what you are attempting to convey as they scan the page. Using images, headlines, appropriately grouped sections of similar information, and clear, concise information is the best way to ensure that even a cursory glance will impart something of the page’s intent.
Think About Your Goals
Your website should seek to balance the needs of its publishers with the expectations of its target audience(s). With a bit of reflection about the best way to accomplish this and with practice, your information will engage your audience, and your sites and pages will become a valuable resource for them.
Tips for Writing
The language used for academic websites should be written at approximately an eleventh-grade reading level. As much as possible, avoid idioms and colloquialisms, unless they are specific to an area of study. This will help those people for whom English is not their first language to understand what you are trying to communicate. Additionally, if you are unsure of grammar, spelling, and/or punctuation, please consult an online or professional resource before publishing updates.
Simple Rules for Success
- Be concise.
- Don’t bury the lede.
- Engage your audience and prioritize their goals.
- Emphasize user actions.
- Understand how users read on the web and the benefits of user-centric language.
- Use headlines sparingly and subheads more frequently.
- Use a consistent tone and voice.
- Edit ruthlessly.
Here are two different ways to communicate that your department has award-winning faculty:
“Five of our ten faculty members have won distinguished honors for teaching—a feat no other department can match.”
“Students benefit from exemplary teaching by faculty who have won distinguished honors for their work in the classroom.”
The former statement is not considering the main interests of the end user, while the latter statement is both highlighting the benefit to the end user as well as conveying the prestige of the faculty. Content that manages to balance both will have greater impact than content that has only one focus.
The L&S Office of College Relations is available for consultation on voice and tone. Contact Deanna Alba at (414) 229-2923 or email@example.com.
In order to write for the web, you should know a few basic HTML tags. Being an expert is unnecessary, but understanding the following tags and knowing when to use them will help you structure your site effectively.
- Headings: <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5>
- Paragraph: <p>
- Links: <a href=”http://www.example.com”>Examplename</a>
- Lists: <ul>, <ol>, <li>
- Images: <img src=”myimage.jpg” alt=”My Image” />
- Strong and emphasis: <strong>, <em>
To learn more HTML, refer to the W3C Schools HTML Tag Reference Guide.