Santa Clara University

Web Publishing @ SCU

Web Tips


  • USE REAL STORIES TO PROMOTE THE GOAL OF YOUR SITE. Student, faculty, and alumni profiles (or even quotes) are a great way to get your message across. If the profiles are not too long, visitors tend to actually read them. Spend some time creating a few profiles that you can feature on your site’s homepage (in the center well or in the right column).


  • USE RIGHT HAND ELEMENTS SPARINGLY.  Too many right hand elements on a page can detract from the primary content of the page.  It is best to only use right hand content/elements that supplement the content on that page.


  • CONSIDER USING THUMBNAIL IMAGES: the small thumbnail image size (57 x 57 pixels) helps add a visual tie to text and headers in your site. Thumbnails are also useful for a gallery of images or an index of topics. Because thumbnail images are so small, there are some Center for Science, Technology, & Societythings to consider when you use them:
    • Be sure the image you select reads well in the small thumbnail size. Typically thumbnails are most effective if they capture a detail, instead of an entire scene.  Thumbnails that are graphics work very well too.
    • Be sure your thumbnail image is an active link to a full page of text or story it is promoting.  If your thumbnails are in a gallery of images, they should link to a larger view of each image.


  • HAVE YOUR WEB SITE'S PUBLISHER REVIEW THE SITE: since it is the beginning of a new academic year, your Publisher (the person who is institutionally responsible for your site) should review the site and recommend any changes or sign off on the current state of the site.


  • WORK ON YOUR SITE'S CONTENT: here are some tips to make your Web content more readable and user friendly.
    • Use words that are short and familiar to the visitor (write using their terms).
    • Keep your paragraphs short. It is better to have many short paragraphs than one long paragraph.
    • Be direct and get to the point. State information clearly and concisely and don’t bury it at the bottom of your Web page.
    • Use tables and charts to keep information organized.


  • PRINT TO WEB: In many cases, content for Web sites comes from print publications, Word documents, or PDFs. User testing has shown that Web audiences do not have a good Web experience when they encounter content that has been pulled directly from a ‘print piece’ and thrown onto the Web. First, print publications have more page space than one Web screen.   Second, print publications are intended to be read front to back, while Web readers like to jump around a site for content. Because of this, it is important for print content to be reformatted (and reorganized) in a Web friendly style. One way to do this is by adding a table of contents at the top of a Web page. The table of content should use headers followed by a brief description and should have active links or page anchors to the content.
    It is also likely that the various content from a print publication should not stay in the same section (or on the same page) of a Web site. The content may need to be broken down into topics and added to various sections of site. It will feel like your publication is being pulled apart when this happens, but it is important to remember that Web readers do not read a site in order, from front to back, they jump around by section and topic.


  • REPLACE YOUR IMAGES: Images are the first thing a visitor notices on a Web page. If a return visitor sees the same image/picture on your Web site over and over again, they are likely to think that the content or information has not been changed either (in other words: there is nothing new to read). It is a good idea to replace your Web images at least monthly. This is most important on your site's homepage.


  • SPRING CLEANING: Is it ‘spring cleaning’ time on your site? Expire any old or outdated information, add any new information, check the copyright date, check for broken links in your sites, and look to add some new images and/or features.  



  • LABEL YOUR SECONDARY NAVIGATION.  It is a good idea to let visitors know the secondary navigation on your site serves a different purpose than the primary navigation.  We recommend you label the secondary navigation with ‘Related SCU Links:.  You can accomplish this by adding a link bar to the top of the secondary navigation, typing in ‘Related SCU Links:’ and then NOT linking it to anything.  If it is at the top of the list and is not linked to a page, the system will know to make it bold (like a label). 


  • KEEP YOUR CONTENT FRESH: make use of CommonSpot’s automated freshness reminders. You can have CommonSpot send you a reminder to review the content of a page after 6 months or a year.  Or, if a page is promoting a special event or has deadlines on it, you can have a reminder sent to you to revisit that content once the event or deadline has passed. Find out how to set freshness reminders and page expirations in CommonSpot.


  • HAVE A COMMONSPOT QUESTION OR PROBLEM? use the CommonSpot work request system. While working in CommonSpot you can have your question or work request sent automatically to the appropriate person by submitting it through the work request system. If you are in the CommonSpot ‘author’ mode, you can access the work request system by clicking on the right hand icon at the top of the page (the little lock) and selecting ‘submit work request’.  Alternatively, you can submit a request for a specific element by selecting the bottom left ‘element’ editing icon (the circle with the three lines in it) and selecting ‘submit work request’.


  • FOOTER ZIP CODE: it is important that the zip code in your template footer match your actual building zip code. Many sites still have 95053-1500 as their zip code, which directs mail to the Donohoe Alumni House. If you don’t have a zip code extension, simply use 95053. Be sure to fix this so your mail isn’t being directed to the wrong place!


  • RELATED LINKS SNIPPET: a new HTML Snippet has been created which allows you to add related links to the rich text editor. It is preformatted so you can add a link title and a description of what the visitor will get to when they click on the link. The format is similar to the related links element, but is better suited for linking to pages within your site, or if you simply want space to add a description in place of the URL being listed. Example: (it is the yellow table at the bottom of the page).


  • MOVE A PAGE: you are able to ‘move a page’ from one subsite to another (or one folder to another). This can be done in the subsite administration by going to ‘Page, Image & Link Management Reports’ then clicking on ‘Pages by Site Hierarchy’. You will get a list of all the pages in your site. Check the box next to the page(s) you want to move, then click on ‘Move Selected Pages’ at the bottom of the screen. You will then be able to select which subsite (or folder) you would like to move the page into.

    This can also be done at the page level. If you are on a CommonSpot page in author mode, click on the top right hand icon (the lock) and select ‘Copy / Move Page’. Click on ‘Move’, then select which subsite (or folder you would like to move the page into.


  • MAKE USE OF YOUR HOMEPAGE: your homepage is likely to be the most visited page in your site. Because of this, you want to have your most important content highlighted on your homepage. Try to avoid having a boring or stagnant homepage that always looks the same and contains no useful information for the visitor. Some recommendations on improving your homepage:
    • Feature or highlight your site’s most important content in the homepage content well.
    • Use links in the text or as related links. Your content well text should have at least one link in it.
    • It is okay and often beneficial to duplicate some of your primary navigation links in the content well. Some users tend to look in the content well before looking at the primary navigation.
    • Make changes to your homepage on a weekly or monthly basis to feature upcoming events, past successes, important notices, or highlight new information added to your site. A good way to do this is to have a ‘What’s New’ feature on your homepage that you can easily modify.  


  • RENAMING PAGES: Did you make a typo while naming a page or have you decided you want to give one of your Web pages a different URL?  You can rename the URL of your Web pages in CommonSpot by clicking on the small lock at top of your page (the icon on the right hand side), then by selecting ‘Rename page’.


  • NAVIGATION: if you are making a change to your primary navigation or footer, be sure to make the change in your TEMPLATE!!!!!!!!  Note: don’t forget to change the copyright year in your template from 2003 to 2004.


  • SINGLE SPACE: rich text editor is preformatted to enter a ‘double space’ each time you hit ‘enter’ (carriage return).  If you only want a single space, hold down ‘shift’ and then hit ‘enter’.


  • CREATING A PAGE: when you are creating a new page in CommonSpot you are asked to enter the site ‘name’.  This name is really the URL extension for the page, so the name you enter must be all lower case with no spaces.  Examples: about, contact, index, etc.  Note: the welcome/homepage for each subsite should be given the name ‘index’.


  • WRAPPING TEXT:  if you want to wrap text around an image, you need to change the ‘Image Alignment’ on the image properties screen from default to either ‘right’ or ‘left’.  You will also want to select the ‘edit’ button under the Image Size heading and change the ‘Spacing Around Image’ from ‘0’ to at least ‘6’ vertical and ‘6’ horizontal.



  • DEAD END PAGES: Don’t let any of your ‘content rich’ Web pages lead to a dead end, or nowhere for the Web visitor to go. Add a link referencing another page in your site or another SCU site at the end of all your content pages. This will keep the Web visitor moving through the site and finding what they need.


  • DRIVE VISITORS TO YOUR SITE: In addition to providing up to date and useful information on your Web site, you may need to remind visitors to come back and let them know what new information they will find there. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through an e-mail blast to users who have identified themselves or registered on your site (see May Web Tips). This e-mail blast should contain useful and time sensitive information, such as events or recent publications and articles.  Quarterly e-mail newsletters are one of the best formats.  The newsletter format should give short descriptions of the content the visitor will find on your Web site (and should provide a link to the specific page). Hints: the e-mail subject line and the ‘from’ e-mail address are two of the most important components in getting people to read your e-mail blast.  Be sure the subject line contains as many keywords as possible and make sure the e-mail address is clear (example: would be a good one).


  • WRITE EFFECTIVE LINKS: in order for links on your site to be useful, they need to be written effectively. For example, a link that says ‘click here’ is not as informative as one that says ‘read more about student activities on campus’.  Link text not only informs the reader, it also informs search engines. This is another reason links should be descriptive and use key words that describe the content the visitor will find when they click on the link.Santa Clara Magazine, spring 2004 cover


  • MAKE YOUR IMAGES LINKS: when possible it is a good idea to make your images/pictures live links to more content in your site. Web users are accustomed to clicking on images, so don’t miss the opportunity to get them to go deeper in your site.  To make an image in CommonSpot a link, begin by adding the image to your page using the insert image tool (the small picture frame) from the tool bar. Once the image is on the page click on the image, then click on the insert image tool (the small picture frame).  Select ‘edit’ from the bottom right hand corner of the window and link your image using the standard linking format.


  • CHECK YOUR LINKS MONTHLY: it is a good idea to check the links in your site once a month to make sure they are still working. It is not uncommon for a link to become broken or for another site to change their URL’s, which would break your link. To a site visitor, a broken link is a sure sign that a site is not being maintained. Don’t lose Web visitors by having broken links!


  • ADD LINKS IN YOUR CONTENT: If a paragraph of text contains a link, a Web visitor is more likely to read it. Many visitors assume content containing links is more important, since it has more content to link to. This is most important on your homepage where you are trying to get visitors to click deeper into your site.


  • LINKING TO DOCUMENTS: You may have specific content, such as a registration form, that needs to be provided as a downloadable document.  Linking to a Word document is not recommended because viruses spread easily through Word. Instead, convert your Word document into a PDF.  If you don’t have the right software, you can do it online for free at .


  • E-MAIL LINKS: Try to avoid using individual's e-mail addresses on Web pages.  Typing out the e-mail address makes it vulnerable to e-mail harvesters who collect e-mail addresses and send out spam e-mails.  Instead, list the individual's name or the program or department name and make it an e-mail link.



  • KEYWORDS: Keywords, or the main terms or words that help define the content of your site, are extremely important to your audience and to search engines. Keywords should be found in a site’s navigation, headlines, and introductory sentences. It is important the keywords represented in your site are words your audience will use (or expect to see in your site) rather than the terms your office or department uses internally. In many cases the external audience describes your organization using different words than you use to describe yourself. The goal is to find out what words they are using and to use them as the building blocks of your site.


  • GET A SECOND OPINION: Don’t make any assumptions about your Web site. There are many ways to get feedback on how well your site meets the needs of your target audience. One of the best ways is to ask them. This can be done as a formal or informal focus group of students, colleagues, or alumni or it can be done by simply asking one person from your target audience to give you suggestions on how to improve your site.  Hint: Many SCU offices have been able to solicit good feedback from their student employees! Also, the Office of Communications and Marketing is always happy to look at your site and provide suggestions for improvement.


  • GET VISITORS TO IDENTIFY THEMSELVES: A great way to build up your mailing list and to make effective use of your Web site is to have Web visitors 'identify' themselves by signing up to receive your newsletter, e-mail blast updates, or get added to your mailing list. This will also give you a good idea of how many people have a true interest in your Web site. You can use the 'simple form' in CommonSpot (located under miscellaneous elements) to collect this information.


  • SUBMIT EVENTS TO THE CALENDAR:  The best way to advertise your event is to submit it to the campus event calendar. Your event will appear on the SCU homepage the day it is taking place! Adding events to the calendar adds rich content to the SCU Web site. Learn more about how to add events to the online calendar!


  • WEB STATS: Check out how many page views your Web site or specific pages are getting at .  This information is collected in the following increments: yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily.  The ‘directory report’ will give you information on how many page views your entire site received, while the ‘request report’ will tell you how many page views a specific page received.



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