Web Content Responsibilities

Sitekeepers Recommendations

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    Prioritize the maintenance of your website

    Few areas of the University have a dedicated Web person.  Usually, site keeping is assigned to an employee who already has other duties.  Nonetheless, it is critical to understand that the website is typically the first and primary source our customers use for information.  So, give the website serious priority.

    • Schedule regular site review and maintenance
      Put it on your calendar to check your website on a regular basis, at least once per term (i.e. fall, winter, and summer).  You may be surprised how often you find things you didn’t realize you need to change, add, or delete.
    • Contact MarCom with any questions
      We always prefer that you ask us for guidance whenever you have any confusion about how to keep your website in good condition.  It takes us much less time to guide you up front than to fix something later.
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    What to check

    When reviewing and updating your website, focus on the following criteria for your content:

    • Accuracy – All numbers, names, links, etc. are correct and up-to-date.
    • Relevance – Provide everything your customers want to know, and only what they want to know.  The most commonly asked-for information should be at the beginning of your content.  Details and less frequent questions should be addressed further down in the site.  As to extra information that people don’t usually ask for, it should not be on the site – it is clutter, which makes it harder for the user to focus on the important stuff.  The exception is when there is a legal requirement to provide certain information – in which case, make sure it is placed in a way that does not interfere with any content that is more important to your users.
    • Your customer’s language (not yours) – Never assume the terms you use every day mean anything to website users.  You may be amazed to realize that words and phrases that you think are universal and obvious are actually new and confusing insider jargon to your customers.  And the problem is, most customers won’t ask for clarification.  Question even your most basic lingo.  Would a high-school student (whose parents didn’t go to college and who is just beginning their college search) understand every term you’re using?  Are you willing to risk losing a prospect on your assumption?  For example, don’t assume every prospective student knows the difference between a scholarship, a grant, and a loan.  Don’t assume they understand the meaning of advising or registration – these things can mean different things in different places.  Explain every term specific to your area.
    • Content responsibilities– Detailed content guidelines are listed below.  The guidelines are designed to maintain a high level of content quality.

    If you are a good writer, also focus on the following needs for your website content.  If you are not a good writer, please ask MarCom personnel for help.  We are happy to apply our in-house editorial capacity to help you improve your content in the following areas.

    • Concision – On the Web especially, shorter writing is almost always better, but always provide reasonably full information.  “Contact us with any questions” is usually good to include too.
    • Tone – While the University is an intellectually advanced and professional organization, people will respond better to content that comes across as friendly, and which is easy to understand.  Dry, pompous, academic style is not going to help persuade anyone to attend or donate to Detroit Mercy.  Your text should read like a pleasant (if concise) conversation.
    • Basic writing quality – it is inexcusable for a university to publish incorrect spelling, grammar, or punctuation.  Note: Cascade Server performs a spell check when you submit changes to a page.  Use this opportunity to check all words, including proper names and acronyms carefully.  Beyond the fundamentals, write well, with tight focus, varied sentence length, appropriate vocabulary, etc.
    • Good use of headings – headings are important to help users browse a page for the information they need, by breaking up content into meaningful parts.

    There are many other aspects of website quality.  However, site keepers (the content experts of an area) should focus on the task of regularly reviewing your content and updating it on the above criteria, and contacting MarCom whenever you need help.

Content

MarCom produces Web content for the University and assists others with their own content.  “Content” refers to everything on the websites – text, images, videos, etc. – that is intended to inform, entertain, or persuade site visitors. 

The quality of website content has a direct impact on the University’s business goals and reputation.  Therefore, MarCom applies several criteria to all University website content.

General criteria

All content on the University websites should be:

  • Focused on the needs of site’s defined key audience(s)
  • Appealing to the key audiences, e.g. in tone, vocabulary, etc.
  • Accurate and up-to-date

All website content should be of professional quality, because it reflects directly on the University.  Specific kinds of content – text, visual, video – have additional requirements.

Text

Text content should also be:

  • Well-written (e.g. proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, use of headings, etc.)
  • Concise
  • Consistent with MarCom writing style in all particulars such as personal titles, location names, capitalization rules, etc.
  • Text should be actually text on the webpage, as opposed to text that is inserted in an image file.  See note under “Imagery”).

Imagery

In addition to the general content criteria, visual content should also be:

  • Properly sized (image dimensions are the same as the visual size. on the web page)
  • Properly compressed (file size is the minimum possible while retaining reasonable quality). Visit Squoosh.app  for easy compression.
  • Of the most appropriate image file format, e.g. JPG for photos, GIF for flat-color graphics, PNG for transparencies.  Typically, the format that has the smallest file size for acceptable visual quality is the right choice.
  • Properly described in the webpage code with “alternate text” for people who cannot see the image.  For example, an image might have an “alt” tag like “Two students laugh with a professor near the Fisher fountain”. Rule of thumb: describe what you see in the photo.

Photos

Photos should have good lighting and composition, and contain appealing-looking subjects that are relevant to the context.  Target audience members have told us that, in particular, pictures of campus and of diverse people interacting with each other are interesting to them.

Graphics

Graphics should appear professionally made, and should be consistent with website design.

Text within images

Note: The use of text as part of an image is poor web practice.  There are multiple reasons, including usability, maintainability, accessibility for disabled people, and design consistency.  Avoid adding text into images, or do so very sparingly, with complete alternative text added to the webpage code for users who cannot see images.  (See more under Accessibility.)

Video

In addition to all general content criteria (above), video content should also have:

  • Clear audio
  • Good lighting
  • Appropriate length (shorter usually better)
  • Professional editing
  • Full text description associated with the video
  • Must be captioned, either open or closed captioning is acceptable (See more under Accessibility.)
  • Full transcript – this is the legal expectation under federal law.  Transcripts have additional benefits in usability and findability of the video content.  (See more under Accessibility.)

Branding

The Marketing & Communications Department can answer all your questions about how to properly represent the University of Detroit Mercy brand in all web content. Adhering to the University’s approved brand standards is a requirement for all University communications. 

Design

The MarCom controls the visual design of the main University websites.  Centralized control of website design is essential for consistency and maintainability.

Why can't we just ...?

Functionality

Marketing & Communications helps with designing, evaluating, selecting, and integrating functional components of the University websites.

Functionality Considerations

Usability and Accessibility

Federal requirements for accessibility and the importance of usability.

More

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    Copyright

    Website content must never infringe on copyrights.  Do not use unlicensed content like images or music in any of the University websites or University videos.  For example, if you found an image or music online, you must ensure you have specific, express permission to use it.  This may involve paying money for it.  Without express permission, you likely don’t have the right to use it, and will be forced to remove it when the holder of the copyright finds it.  This applies to any kind of content, but images and music have been the most common problems.

    For any copyrighted material used on our websites, the Marketing & Communications Department must receive a copy of the license to use the material.