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Communication Toolkit: Web Sites

People come to your website with a specific task in mind. If it is not easy to find and quickly complete that task, they’ll leave. To create a successful, easy-to-use website, keep these tips in mind:

Think of your user first
When creating the layout and writing content for your website, think of the key tasks and/or information needs of your users. Keep in mind this includes more than what you want them to do.

Write for the web
Use terminology and words your users will recognize. Like anything, people can get caught up in jargon or technical writing. If your website content does not make sense to the lay person, they will go elsewhere to find what they are looking for. Use the below checklist to help you keep your website text in check:

  • Less is more! Be concise.
  • Break documents into separate topics.
  • Use even shorter paragraphs than on paper.
  • Use short lists and bullets to organize information.
  • Use even more lists than on paper.
  • Use even more headings with less under each heading.
  • Questions often make great headings.
  • Present each topic or point separately, and use descriptive section headings.
  • Keep the information on each page to no more than two levels.
  • Make liberal use of white space so pages are easy to scan.
  • Write (especially page titles) using the same words your readers would use when doing a web search for the info.
  • Do not assume your readers have knowledge of the subject or have read related pages on your site. Clearly explain things so each page can stand on its own.
  • Never use "click here" as a link — link language should describe what your reader will get if they click the link.
  • Eliminate unnecessary words.

Be accessible
If you want people to visit and use your website, you do not want to limit who is able to do so! Make sure your website follows these rules of thumb for accessibility:

  • Be cautious color schemes you use on your website. Consider checking how your site will appear to people with colorblindness or other visual impairments.
  • Provide text alternatives to images or videos for those who are vision impaired.
  • Provide transcripts of any audio content you include.
  • Avoid menus and interactions that require a lot of dexterity.

Maintain your site
Once you have done the work and created your wonderful website – you must keep it up-to-date!

  • Check links on your site regularly and fix any that are broken.
  • Create a plan to keep the content on your site fresh with features, blogs, or other information. Do not commit to a content section if you are unable to maintain it over time.
  • Schedule reviews of each piece of content, at minimum annually.
  • Show the review date on each page so people can judge how current the content is.

Check your analytics
Analytic tools such as Google Analytics, which is free, can be easily setup and can help you find out where your users are going. You can also check what words people are searching for on your site to see which words visitors prefer and what they are hoping to find on your site.