Web Publishing Best Practices

These topics will help you learn how to increase the quality of your pages and improve the experience of your site visitors. Some of them are not only best practices, they are also required by law for accessibility. Others help improve the visibility of your pages in search engines, increasing the number of visitors to your site.

Naming - Files and Folders
Metadata Information - Page Titles and Descriptions
Site Structure - Navigation
Images - Size, Alt Text and Proper Use
Links - Different Types and Conventions
Page Appearance - Alignment and Fonts
Accessibility - Alt Text, Textual Equivalents, Tables and Forms
Other Topics -Campus Name
Short Links - also called redirects, short addresses, short URLs

Naming:

Files: Files should be named with lowercase letters or numbers. Do not use special characters such as & * ! @ +. Hyphens ( - ) and underbars ( _ ) can be used.

Components: When naming a component, be sure to include the account name and what the component is. I.e., If it's an alternate left navigation component in the ORSP account, name the file: orsp_left_nav. If it's a right column component, use something such as: orsp_right_col

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Metadata

Is used in search engine optimizationmost often to help them categorize your pages correctly. In our CMS this is accomplished by filling in the required title and description fields. These will become meta tags that search engines use. Using key words (in SEO items) is an option.

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Site Structure

Navigation: Our CMS creates the left navigation automatically, based on the order of the files in the tree. More information on navigation and components is available on the training home page.

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Images

More information on image sizes and editing images is available.
Size: Correct sizing of images on your site is very important. Size/scale the image before uploading to the CMS.

Alt Text: NYS and federal accessibility standards mandate all images on our site have a textual alternative description (alt text). Our CMS will not allow you to insert an image without it.

Proper Use: Only use graphics that appear professional. No unprofessional shareware graphics, icons, or animations will be allowed. In addition, you should not use copyrighted imagery without permission. The Webmaster may remove graphics deemed inappropriate without notice.

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Links

  1. Internal - links to SUNY Oswego sites. Whenever possible, use the XID method of linking internal files
  2. External - links to sites outside of SUNY Oswego. You must insert the full URL. Our convention is to have these links open in a new browser window. by selecting "_blank" in the "Target Window" dropdown.
  3. Document - Word, PDF, Excel, etc., files. Indicate the type of file and its size in parenthese after the link. I.e. Instructions (PDF, 2 MB)
  4. Images - Size/scale an image before uploading and add alt text. More information >>

In general, the title attribute should be used with every link that isn't self explanatory to increase the usability of our site for everyone.

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Page Appearance

Much of the formatting of the SUNY Oswego website is controlled by Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Using CSS to control page appearance is a requirement of the accessibility guidelines. It is important that the CSS be allowed to do its job in order to provide a consistent experience for everyone visiting the site. In-line text formatting defined by html that overrides the CSS is undesirable and will be removed at the Webmaster's discretion

Fonts: The fonts used on the SUNY Oswego website are specified by the CSS. Therefore, different font faces, sizes, colors or backgrounds should not be used, and may be removed by the Webmaster.

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Accessibility

Alt Text: As mentioned above all images need to have alt text that describes the image to benefit individuals surfing our site with screen readers.

Textual Equivalents: Textual equivalents are necessary for any non-text element of a page. This includes audio, video, flash and other interactive elements. More Information >>

Tables: Web accessibility guidelines discourage the use of tables for layout formatting within pages. Tables need to have a description of what is displayed when for data. Further, tables used to display data also need to specify which cells are the "header" cells and if the information is oriented horizontally or vertically. This is all necessary so that a screen reader can accurately present the information audibly to a site visitor. More in-depth information on accessible tables is available from WebAIM.org.

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Other Topics

Campus Name: Always change references to "Oswego State University" to either SUNY Oswego (preferred) or Oswego State.

Policy for Short Links

(also called Redirects -- Short Addresses -- Short URLs)

In order to make web addresses (URLs) easier to reproduce in print and in other media, campus departments may request that the webmaster create a redirect to their directories using a shorter URL. Long addresses can pose problems for users. Typos may result in the dreaded 404 File Not Found page. And URLs of more than 76 characters can exceed the limit for many text editors and e-mail clients.

At SUNY Oswego:

  • Temporary short links may be created under special circumstances.
  • Short links that have outlived their usefulness may be removed at the discretion of the webmaster.

Here's an example of a long link:
http://www.oswego.edu/academics/colleges_and_departments/departments/modern_languages/degree_programs/french.html

This has been shortened to:
www.oswego.edu/french

To request a short URL, please fill out this on-line form. Due to volume of general web requests, shortlink requests may take up to 2 business days to fulfill. You will be asked for:

  • the long web address
  • reason for request
  • requested short link (The webmaster will ultimately choose the best name. This is to avoid duplicates and to keep the overall structure of the website intact.)
  • Date needed and date it can be removed\

To check to see if a short URL already exists, please email webmaster@oswego.edu. We will respond within 2 working days.