MarComm Toolbox

MarComm Toolbox

Resources for the Campus Community

Web Design And Content Standards

Website refers to any and all official domains and subdomains registered, maintained and operated by Florida Institute of Technology. This includes all sites, pages and content located at www.fit.edu and within its various subdomains, which follow the standard http://[name].fit.edu.

Overview

The Website is maintained and managed collaboratively by the offices of University Marketing and Enterprise Systems (IT), with ultimate oversight of the design and content being held by the VP for Marketing and Communications, and oversight of backend systems and supporting technologies being held by the CIO.

The Website is intended and designed to serve the entire Florida Tech community by providing accurate, authentic, informational, educational and engaging news, information and content. Design and development resources are allocated and administered in accordance with the following priorities:

  1. Mission-critical systems and information
  2. Marketing and communications in direct support of the university’s branding, reputation, and enrollment goals
  3. General university operations and information

University Marketing is responsible for making decisions on behalf of the university regarding information architecture, usability, design, technical structure, and strategy for the official university Website. These decisions are made with consideration of current usability models and best practices, information architecture standards, analytics data, the university’s mission and goals, guidance from university leadership, and input from the university’s constituents.

Every web page on the Florida Tech Website represents not only a specific department, but all of Florida Tech. Therefore, all pages should be professional and consistent with the rest of the Florida Tech Website.

Content Management System

The university uses TerminalFour as its official, primary content management system (CMS). The university also uses Wordpress to manage a select number of sites, including the Florida Tech Newsroom and Ad Astra online magazine, and maintains a few code-only sites.

Compliance

The Florida Tech Website must:

  •  Adhere to Florida Tech’s visual identity and brand guidelines.
  • Abide by U.S. and international copyright law (including guidelines for fair use), and it must comply with local, state, and federal laws.
  • Meet the online requirements as set forth by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
  • Be compliant with Title IX and all other applicable laws governing higher education administration. Additionally, it must adhere to the university’s policy of non-discrimination.
  • Be consistently revised and enhanced in accordance with the best practices for web design and communication as outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Comply with W3C current CSS and HTML specification standards and best practices.

Web Editing & Site Maintenance

Website Creation

New, official websites for academic and administrative units must be created and approved by University Marketing in adherence to the official university website policies and utilizing branded templates. New sites require three to six months to build, depending on requirements. New site developments require the adherence to a web production agreement, which outlines all responsibilities and deadlines that must be met in order to stay on the three to six month timeline. Any responsibilities and deadlines missed will cause the timeline to be adjusted appropriately. Start times for projects may vary depending on the site developments already scheduled at the time the request is made.

Website Size

To avoid Website bloat and the associated, unnecessary costs that may be imposed by TerminalFour as a result, University Marketing may limit the number of web pages that a department may have for its website. At its discretion, University Marketing may combine, edit or otherwise alter the content of departmental web pages in order to reduce overall Website size. University Marketing will consult with the appropriate Web Editor before making such changes; however, the final decision resides with University Marketing. Every effort will be made to ensure that no informational integrity is lost as a result of website size adjustments.

Web Editors

Every website under the primary university domain or subdomain must have a designated Web Editor, which must be a full-time member of Florida Tech’s faculty or staff. Websites may have more than one Web Editor and every one beyond the first is not required to be a full-time employee. Web Editors will be granted “Moderator” or “Contributor” access to TerminalFour, depending on his or her skill and comfort level with web editing. In the absence of a designated Web Editor, website oversight will default to the most appropriate director, department head, dean, or vice president, until one is assigned. All Web Editors must be trained on basic procedures and standards for the university Website before access to edit department pages is granted.

Faculty Profiles

All full-time faculty are entitled to a Faculty Profile page on the Website. Once a faculty profile page is established, the faculty member bears responsibility for keeping it up-to-date and accurate. Marketing/Web Services will make changes to the content of faculty profiles upon written request from the faculty member or the faculty member's department head or dean.

  • Request Editing Access
  • Request New Profile
  • Request Web Services Assistance

Faculty Websites (Research Centers & Labs)

In support of the academic mission of the university, full-time faculty members are entitled to space on the Website for their research center, group and laboratory websites. To initiate the process of creating a new research center or laboratory website, faculty members must submit a Web Services request. Once a faculty website has been created, the faculty member is responsible for maintaining and updating the site. Faculty may maintain complete control over the academic substance and content of their site(s). However, Florida Tech may:

  • Require faculty websites to use appropriate university branding and design templates.
  • Require faculty websites to be accessible and responsive.
  • Limit the overall size of faculty websites to prevent Website bloat and avoid unnecessary costs.

Student Organization Websites

Students who wish to maintain web-accessible information in support of their clubs and organizations must use Orgsync, the designated content management system for student organizations. Student organizations are not typically given space in Terminal Four.

Content

The Florida Tech Website is user-first. It exists to deliver content that users need to complete an action or be informed.

Audience

The Website serves various audiences, each with its own desires and expectations. All content should be created with both a primary audience and secondary audiences in mind. Typical audiences include but may not be limited to:

  • Alumni
  • Community Members/Partners
  • Current Students
  • Employers/Businesses
  • Faculty
  • Friends of the University
  • HS Teachers
  • HS Guidance Counselors
  • Parents of Current Students
  • Parents of Prospective Students
  • Peers
  • Prospective Students
  • Staff

A webpage about admissions would be targeted toward the prospective student audience first, and parents and guidance counselors second, for example. A page about student services, on the other hand, would likely be targeted to current students first, and interested prospective students second. If you’re unsure, consult with University Marketing to determine your primary and secondary audiences and how best to serve them.

Length / Word Count

With some exceptions (such as Contact Us or Forms and Documents pages), consider every web page a space to house an “article” or “entry,” the purpose of which is to inform, educate or engage your user and be readily findable via search engines. As such, every page’s web content should strike a balance between containing enough information and detail to be useful and being overly lengthy and having extraneous information. As a rule, most web pages should have a demonstrable intrinsic value (vital information on how to apply, for example) or quantifiable marketing value (as indicated by web-based analytics and determined by University Marketing). A typical, substantive webpage should have between 500 and 1000 words. While there is no strict minimum word count, web pages with fewer than 300 words will be subject to evaluation and changes by University Marketing. University Marketing will address such pages on a case-by-case basis with the appropriate Web Editor or department supervisor. When required and in accordance with the best practices, University Marketing may edit, combine or otherwise alter the content of departmental web pages. Live pages that are empty or unfinished may be hidden or deleted.

Style

When it comes to writing for the web, the most important style and usage requirement is consistency. You must adhere to the style you choose. AP Style is preferred, except in cases where it does not serve the best interests of the audience. At a minimum, web content must be clear, concise and correct, free of spelling and grammatical errors. Web Editors of websites that do not comply with content style guidelines or which contain errors may be asked to take corrective action. Websites failing to comply following such a request may be unlinked and/or removed.

Writing for the Web

Web content should adhere to University Marketing’s best practices regarding writing for the web, which are as follows:

  • Use plain, conversational language. This increases user understanding.
  • Be brief, specific and clear.
  • Use an active voice.
  • Keep paragraphs limited to a single idea or point.
  • Avoid jargon, acronyms and abbreviations whenever possible.
  • Use headers, subheads, bulleted lists and captions to make scanning easier.
  • Provide text links to related information and additional detail.
  • Create web content that is evergreen. For example, write “Since 1990…” instead of “For 27 years…”
  • Do not use “Click here” for link text. Instead, use an active verb that describes the action the user is taking such as “Download,” “Visit” or “View,” and specify the subject. For example, do not write, “Click here to download the guide.” Instead, write, “Download the Student Handbook.”
  • It is not necessary to welcome people to your site or explain to them how to navigate it. Only provide information that is critical to the user.

Information Accuracy & Timeliness

Audiences will consider the Florida Tech Website to be the “document of record” when it comes to university information, assuming that its content is accurate and up-to-date. Out-of-date names, dates and other facts are detrimental to users’ interaction with the Website, and thus the reputation of the university as a whole. If the content of your webpage is subject to change, incorporate disclaimer language that (1) indicates the possibility of change and (2) says when the page was last updated.

Official Academic/Catalog & Policy Content

Web Editors are prohibited from copying and pasting, whether in whole or in part, any content from the University Catalog or University Policy systems. To reference any such official information, Web Editors should link to the appropriate entry using a text link or script that “pulls” the information from one of the aforementioned systems into a webpage directly. Contact Web Services for assistance with this.

Design

The Florida Tech Website has a look and feel that represents the university. It conforms to university graphic identity standards and branding guidelines. Design is overseen and maintained by the Office of Marketing & Communications.

Logo Use

The Website uses templates that contain the university signature and are branded for the university. Web Editors should not need to use the university logo separately or in addition to the branding that is already in place and are prohibited from doing so without written permission from University Marketing.

Colors & Typography

These design elements are determined by University Marketing and standardized through templates and style sheets embedded in the TerminalFour content management system.

Permanent URLs

For search engine optimization, web page URLs should not contain acronyms or abbreviations. They must use whole words and phrases whenever possible.

Redirect URLs

A URL redirect is a technique for making a web page available under more than one URL address. University Marketing uses redirect URLs to maintain continuity during website changes. In the past, redirect URLs have also been created for use in print materials. As of July 1, 2017, all redirect URLs that are in place are being evaluated to determine if they are essential.

FloridaTech.edu/ "Short" URLs

As of July 1, 2017, departments that request an abbreviated and/or print-appropriate URL will be given a URL that conforms to the following syntax: floridatech.edu/[_____].