Web Guidelines

How people read on the web

People do not read on the web; they scan because they are too busy; they are trying to answer a specific question or do a task; and reading dense blocks of text on a computer screen can be difficult.

Write information, not documents

Break up large documents and divide web content by
time or sequence
type of information
questions people ask

Focus on your essential message

Give people what they need; less is more
Start with key points, then give relevant supporting information
Focus on facts, not background info
Break dense walls of text into easy to scan blocks

Design pages for easy use

Don't center text
Don't write all in capitals
Don't underline anything but links; use italics sparingly
Provide at least 7 pixels of space around images

Tune up your sentences

Good web writing is like a conversation; answers people's questions; lets people “grab and go.”

Guidelines for writing well
Use “you” rather than “he or she”
Use the active voice most of the time (e.g., “The rector must fill out the form” not “The form must be filled out by the rector” or “The form must be filled out”)
Write simple straightforward sentences
Cut unnecessary words
Keep paragraphs short; one sentence paragraphs are fine
Very short sentences or fragments are often okay
Use simple, short, common words
Put the action in verbs, not nouns (e.g., “The commission's recommendations were few in number” (weak) “The commission recommended few changes” (strong)
Do not use jargon or other inside speak
Use lists and tables to make information easy to grab

Break up your text with headings

Good headings help readers by getting them interested; setting the context for each section; and facilitating scanning so they can find the section they need.

Guidelines for useful headings
Start by outlining your content with headings
Use questions people ask as headings
Make headings statements
Use action phrase headings for instructions, such as “How do I…?” or “How can I…?”
Use keywords in headings
Use noun and noun phrase headings sparingly
Use no more than two levels of headings below the page title
Help people to jump to the topic they need with same page links


Write meaningful hyperlinks

Guidelines for links
Don't make titles or headers into links by themselves
Be explicit; take as much space as you need
Links of 7 to 12 words have the highest click rate
Use action phrases for action links (e.g., Read about our ministries rather than Ministries)
Make the link meaningful, not just Click here or More. Web users know what hyperlinks look like and do
Put links at the end, below or next to main text, not in the middle of text


Manage collateral materials

Observing File Naming Conventions
Files for collateral materials (images and PDF documents) should be named accordingly
Use only letters, numbers, underscores, and dashes; do not use spaces (e.g., 2011_parochial_report.pdf)


Using PDFs

Guidelines for usage
Use PDFs primarily for content that will be downloaded and printed (e.g., documents, flyers, booklets)
Fill out the page title field (found under File/Properties) with a descriptive, keyword rich title


Using Images

Images should typically be sized to 250 pixels across or high; 400 pixels is maximum
Images should be screen resolution 72 dpi
File size should be as small as possible, 50K maximum
Photo realistic images should be 24-bit JPEGs with no less than 80% compression
Illustrative graphics can use GIF or PNG formats
Write descriptive alt tags for images; use keywords