Our website involves web editors across the Law School community. The following web style guide below ensures that we are creating and producing content that is user-friendly and effective for our audiences.
For training, new web feature requests, editing issues, analytics, and user triage, please email [email protected].
Content Strategy for the Web
Writing for Users
Always keep the primary user in mind when writing for your website. If your content usefully answers the what, how, why, and when of what users are looking for, your pages will be both SEO friendly and ensure a good user experience.
It is also important to make sure what you’re writing does not already exist on another part of your site or on the CLS main website, but is uniquely addressing the needs of a user when they’ve landed on that page.
If you’re adding a new page about a staff program, write and design your page based on what a staff user is looking for. You can do this by thinking about the staff you’ve interacted with on this topic, questions you’ve been sent via email, or by looking at how a peer school might address that same content decision.
When you are writing about the program, your content should answer what the program is, who it serves, and what actions a user might need to take. You do not need to write auxiliary content like directions to Columbia if they are readily available on our main website. Linking to contextual content is preferable to rewriting content, creating long over-descriptive pages.
Write for Fast Readers
Users are always scanning quickly through web content, so make sure to synthesize the important information they need quickly and in clear descriptive words with calls to action.
Break up the text with meaningful headers. Headers allow readers to navigate and find what they’re looking for quickly.
For contextual content, like directions, you can always link keywords and phrases to the right place. Always hyperlink descriptive text of what a user is looking for rather than “Click Here.” Use links and buttons to create call to actions so users know what they are supposed to do next.
Keep Your Navigation Clear and Simple
Your website’s navigation is part of the user path, so keep in mind how users are finding and searching for your content. New pages should be logically nested in your navigation.
To ensure you’re creating content that is effective and useful, you should review analytics once a semester. On the CU sites platform, you’ll be able to view your own analytics whenever you want to. All other users may request from Communications a review of their site’s analytics. To do so, please contact [email protected]
Web editor’s must keep content fresh, clear, and created to meet ADA eligibility guidelines too. Editors should be familiar with the CU Sites’ Accessibility Guidelines.
- Write to answer the what, how, why, and when of what users are looking for.
- Break up content into blocks of text. Use subheads and bullets when appropriate.
- Avoid jargon.
- When creating page titles, headers, and list items, choose keywords carefully and use them consistently. This practice reinforces keywords relevancy for search engines.
Follow our editorial style which is Associated Press Style (with exceptions.)
Creating Well-Designed Pages
- Create for fast readers with short, descriptive text.
- Break up text with headers. H2 first subheads, H3 next, etc.
- Link contextually, never “click here.”
- Only use approved logos.
- Keep formatting simple.
- Use native bulleted lists and pull quotes.
- Add images and designed content blocks to break up pages.
- Use the visual style guide for correct logo and colors.
Using Photos on the Web
Photography should be relevant. Photos must be naturalistic, capturing the authentic interactions among a diverse set of students and faculty at Columbia Law School.
We never use stock photos when depicting students, faculty, alumni, or law school facilities.
Do not use images that are hard to read because of color, size, or content.
Always add alt text. This ensures photos are accessible.
Only use photos you have the rights to.
Contact Communications for any photo requests.
Why consider accessibility and your content? We are legally bound by Americans with Disabilities Act. Developing for accessibility results in faster load times, fewer bugs, improved SEO and support for more devices.
If you follow the web style guide, you are developing content that is accessible. The most important to remember to
- Always use alt tags with all images to describe the content of the image as it relates to the text you are producing.
- Keep content short and simple, writing for a high-school grade-level.
- Always use built in WISIWIG headings, following the structure of H1, H2, H3.
- Never use "Click Here"
- Always use bulleted lists.
Beginning in Summer of 2018, Centers, Programs, Law School Administrative Departments (HR, Bussiness office, etc), and Student Groups are moving to the moving to the CU IT Sites Drupal platform.
If you are looking for a new site that falls into the category of a program, center, internal admin department, or student group, please contact IT: [email protected].
If you are already moved to the CU IT Sites drupal platform, please use the training material provided by CU IT Sites if you have any training questions.
To set up editor training on CU IT Sites, or triage your CU IT Sites issue, please contact IT: [email protected].
The Law School Website is shared between Communications and IT. New feature requests will be reviewed by the Web Governance Board for both the core and non-core web.
All website trianing access, user, and issues should be routed to [email protected]https://finance-admin.law.columbia.edu/content/website-governance-guide