Website style guide - S

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Scannable content

Web users tend to have a particular task in mind and will scan pages for specific information, looking for headings and links that relate to their objective, rather than reading the entire page. 

Format each page so content is clearly structured and broken up to aid skim reading, using 

  • headings
  • sub headings
  • short paragraphs 
  • bullet points
  • line breaks

Paragraph length - Website style guide

Bullet points- Website style guide

Line breaks - Website style guide

Writing for the web page


SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) refers to a number of techniques and considerations which theoretically improve the ranking of your website in search engines. 

While there is a lot of information available about SEO, the most important thing to focus on is ensuring that your content is presented appropriately, is easy to read, and is accessible from any device.

The algorithms of search engines such as Google take hundreds of factors into account when ranking a page, and are more intelligent than ever in understanding the subject matter of a page. 

Search engines can also detect if a page is over-targeting a keyword to try and specifically rank higher using methods such as keyword stuffing (overusing a specific word or phrase where it wouldn’t naturally fit into a sentence). These techniques, often referred to as ‘black hat’ SEO, are ineffective and can result in a page or entire website being penalised.

The design and functionality of the CMS addresses many factors by default, including metadata and mobile-friendly pages. When creating a page, consider the following:

  • Headings are used appropriately and hierarchically (see Headings).
  • Content is easily readable (see Addressing the visitor, Line breaks, Plain English, Scannable content, Tone and Words to avoid).
  • Link text should indicate the content of the page you are linking to (see Links).
  • URLs should be succinct and descriptive (see URLs).
  • Content should not be duplicated (see Duplicate content).

Search engine optimisation - Web support


Sentence case

Use sentence case everywhere, including titles, headings, buttons and form labels. 

The exceptions to this are proper nouns (proper nouns are the name of a particular person, place, organisation or thing).

Headings and calls for action are sentence case and don't have a full stop.


Shaded box

Applies only to CMS

A shaded box is an option available in The Editor and in some other Components. It can be added to the body of a Basic page to add structure to content. For example, a shaded box could be used to distinguish an important notice from the rest of the copy on the page.

The Editor - Web support


Signposting boxes

Applies only to CMS

Signposting boxes are available on Home and Hub pages. Their purpose is to provide users with a quick, obvious link to another page.

Home and hub components - Web support

Hub pages - Website style guide


Signposting cards

Applies only to CMS

Signposting cards (available on home and hub pages) are similar to Signposting boxes but give you the opportunity to add more detail.

Home and hub components - Web support

Hub pages - Website style guide


Site structure

The site structure refers to how content (or pages) is structured and organised on your website, and is displayed in your navigation (or menu).

Navigation - Website style guide


Skim reading

Scannable content - Website style guide


Smart cards

Applies only to CMS

Smart cards allow you to insert dynamically-updated, reusable cards into a page and signpost to their source pages. 

Smart cards - Web support


Social media links

When linking to specific social media accounts, use the following format:

Follow @username on Instagram

Follow @username on Twitter

Follow [Page title] on Facebook

Follow [Channel name] on Youtube

Including the username in the link text is preferable to saying ‘follow us on’, as users on mobile devices may prefer to search for your account name in the app instead of opening the link in their browser.


Staff profile

Applies only to CMS

Staff profiles are used to display information about members of staff in your department. 

Example: Dr James McGregor, CBE

Staff profile - Web support


Staff profile link

Applies only to CMS

If a member of staff is in another department then you should use the Staff profile link Content type to link to their profile. Staff should not have multiple profiles.

Staff profile link - Web support


Student profiles

Applies only to CMS

Student profiles are used for displaying a current or former student's account of their experiences at the University. 

Student profiles can be embedded into other pages, such as undergraduate and postgraduate course pages, to make content more engaging for prospective students (see ‘Smart cards’). You can also generate an automatic list of Student profiles using the Student profile index.

Using a question and answer format helps users to find points of interest easily. Keep questions specific and think about what would be of interest to a prospective student.

Example: I absolutely adored my Year Abroad, it has been the best decision and most unforgettable experience I have had (Department of History)

Student profile index - Web support

7 top tips for better student profiles - Web support


Style guide

Read our Editorial style guide to get specific guidance on the type of language we like to use on the University website.


Sub-headings

Headings - Website style guide


(Page) summary

Many visitors will only read the first few words on a page before deciding whether they’re in the right place, so take the time to write a strong and descriptive summary. 

Remember this summary will also appear in search engine results, so include keywords.

In the CMS, use the Intro field for this.

Feedback

If you have any questions or comments about this guide, contact us.

Get in touch

If you have CMS questions or are stuck then get in touch and we'll do our best to help.