General Web Publishing Guidelines

Web publishers at Western are responsible for the content of the pages they publish and are expected to abide by the highest standards of quality and responsibility. Additionally, all publishers should comply with established web policies.

Concentrate on original work

Readers are looking for information on your department, your unit or you. The most valuable contribution you can make to your readers is to publish original work. Collections of pointers to the work of others, while a service that can be valuable, is not a substitute for publishing your own documents and materials.

Take advantage of the work of others

Cooperation and coordination are two prevailing principles among Web publishers on this campus and throughout the world. Rather than duplicating the work of others, take advantage of it. Incorporate links to the work of others into your own pages, when appropriate. Reducing redundancy lets you concentrate on original offerings.

Review your pages

Publishing in the Web is just that - publishing. And just like paper publishing, your Web pages should follow the normal procedures of proper review and approval before you publish them.

Preview your pages

Before you put your pages up for the world to see, take a look at them locally in your browser. This way you can make sure your pages look as you expect them to.

Keep pages up to date

Web publishing is not a one-time task. You should keep all pages up to date. In many ways, you will find updating Web pages quicker and more convenient than updating paper publications.

Design pages to be text-browser friendly

Pages must be usable by those using screen readers. Therefore, do not create pages with graphic-only content or graphic-only navigation. All graphics must have alt tags. All graphic nativation bars and buttons must have text alternatives on the page. Avoid creating a second set of text-based pages. Instead, integrate graphics and text on the same page.

Keep pages browser independent

Design pages that are viewable in all major browsers, including Netscape, Explorer, and Lynx, a text-based browser used by the visually impaired.

Sign all pages

Place a standard signature at the bottom of all major pages. This signature should contain the date of last update, organization name, E-mail address for comments, and links to other appropriate pages.

Make the best use of your home page

Your home page is the most valuable portion of your Web collection. Do not waste home page space on introductory paragraphs of information that users will read only one time and subsequently ignore. History and introductory text are important and should be a part of every home page, but shrink it to a link labelled "Introduction" or "About."

Follow a simple and consistent design

Complex designs can confuse users, so keep it simple. Also, a consistent design will let your readers concentrate on content, without having to waste time figuring out how to manoeuvre your layout.

Use index.html as name for primary HTML file

If the primary file is called index.html, you need not specify it in URLs. For example, both of these links work, but the shorter one is more conventional and might be easier for others to remember and for you to type:

•    Okay:
•    Better:

Organize files into subdirectories

A subdirectory is the same thing as a folder. Create subdirectories to organize your HTML files by topic. For example, you might have several subdirectories, including one each of the following: forms, graphics, a newsletter, etc.

Keep names short and descriptive

Give your files and subdirectories short but descriptive names and try to use lower case only. Remember, these names appear in your URL. And, URLs are case sensitive. For example:

•    This works:
•    This doesn't work: - (because W and N in WhatsNew should be lower case)

Also, keeping your names short and in lower case simplifies your URL. So, if you have to communicate one of your URLs verbally to someone, they are more likely to get it if it is:

•    Good:
•    Bad:

Give users cross links

Users should be able to move from one major page to another without having to go back to your home page. Put cross links to all your major pages somewhere on all major pages. For a good example, see the Western Web Resource Centre pages.

Don't create gratuitous graphics

Graphics are one reason for the interest in the Web by both publishers and readers. Definitely include graphics. The Web version of a document should contain the same graphics the printed version does. However, do not overuse graphics. Blinking text and other decorations are only distractions that get in the reader's way. Background colors and textures are strongly discouraged, because of additional download time. If you cannot avoid backgrounds, think very carefully about the colors and textures you choose and the effects of those colors and textures on the readibility of the text.

Don't create dead end links

Readers can get discouraged from returning to your pages when those pages are filled with empty links with grand labels.

Make hot text meaningful

A page of click here links do not help readers easily locate the information they want. See examples of alternatives below.

•    Bad: To publish on the Western Web, click here.
•    Good: To publish on the Western Web, see Web Publishing at Western (avoid this redundancy)
•    Better: To publish on the Web at Western, see the Western Web Resource Centre.
•    Bad: For information on HTML, click here.
•    Good: For information on HTML, see Learning HTML.
•    Better: See Learning HTML for more information.


Western provides the best student experience among Canada's leading research-intensive universities.