Turning Your Site Over to a Student
It's tempting to transfer the task of website administration to a summer
student. Don't do it...unless you budget time in the fall to untangle and
decode what's been done.
Don't create links that just go to pages of other links. If you're doing
this, it usually indicates that you don't have enough original content on
Too Many Options
Local navigation options (the links contained in the left-hand menu) should
be kept to a minimum. Good navigation is about helping people find what
they're looking for, not providing them with an overwhelming number of
choices. As a rule of thumb, your site should have three major navigation
categories or fewer, with a maximum of seven links per category. You don't
like reading long menu lists and neither do your users.
If your link goes to a PDF file or other file type which requires plug-in
software which the user may or may not have installed, warn them first by
including the file type in parentheses.
Web pages which have only one or two sentences on them don't contain enough
information to warrant a stand-alone page. Incorporate those one or two
sentences into another page.
Unless there's a compelling reason to do so, don't copy and paste content
from another website into your own. If you do, you're eliminating one of the
web's best features...the ability to point to a site that someone else is
maintaining. Also, when you
recreate content found somewhere else, you obligate yourself to maintain
your version and ensure that your site is in sync with the original.
These were popular at the dawn of the internet age, but are now regarded as
signs of an amateur site.
Emphasize only those parts of your page which are truly critical or
important with bolding, italics or other special decoration. If everything
is emphasized, nothing is.
In the on-screen world, anything that's in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS is
interpreted as screaming. Draw attention to especially important content by
using italics or bold lettering. Use special formatting sparingly (see "hyperemphasis"
Unless you're prepared to update any section of your website called "Hot
News!" on a regular basis, e.g., daily or weekly, don't even bother adding
such a section. If the news that you're billing as "hot" is obviously stale,
users will conclude that the site is poorly maintained and will question the
timeliness of all of your content.
Don't force a new browser window to open from a link for no reason. Pop-up
actions should be used sparingly or reserved for links that point to sites outside of
If your organization or department already has an established website header
graphic, don't create a separate visual identity for your subgroup; use the
Things that Are Easily Found Elsewhere
In keeping with the idea that users are coming to your website for
information specific to your program, don't include links to common
information that is easily found elsewhere, for example, links to Google,
Yahoo or the schedule for the Long Island Railroad.
"This Site Under Construction"
By their very nature, websites are always under construction. Don't bother
with providing an empty link which is labeled "under construction" or
"coming soon"; it doesn't get users to check back later, it causes them to
go away and never come back. Advertise content, not a lack of it.