The web is a primary means of communication of The University of Alabama, and it is important that UA projects a consistent brand and a quality user experience on all official and unofficial University web sites.
The University of Alabama World Wide Web Policy governs all Web sites representing the University. It is essential that all employees who build and manage websites read and follow the requirements of this policy.
The University of Alabama comprises many academic, research and service units, each of which plays an important part in shaping the University's reputation as an internationally recognized institution. In turn, each unit's reputation and identity is shaped by its association with the University. The visual identity projected by our many units to our many audiences should reflect the strength that results from our collective association as The University of Alabama. Consistent, frequent, and appropriate use of our nameplate and wordmarks promotes instant recognition and a clear, unifying image. UA nameplates and wordmarks are available on the Logos & Wordmarks page.
This section of the UA Web Guide presents a step-by-step process for building a new Web site or redesigning a current Web site at The University of Alabama.
Some basic steps to follow as you begin a web site project include:
All UA departments are encouraged to use the official UA Web Templates or UA WordPress Themes as the basis for web development projects. Utilizing the UA templates and themes will ensure the University's web presence is brand-consistent and of high quality, and will create a better, more seamless experience for our users. The templates and themes faciliate quick, off-the-shelf implementation with pre-designed options, and also allow a high degree of customization and flexibility for more specialized web site projects.
UA-branded web templates based on the design and functionality of the UA Home Page are available for use by any official unit of The University of Alabama. The templates are built on a custom responsive framework based on Bootstrap, and offer many pre-built design and layout options to aid in web development. The framework also ensures maximum flexibility and customization options, and includes all the tools you'll need to build a robust UA website of any size and scope.
The UA WordPress Theme extends the functionality of the UA Web Templates to a content management system platform, ideal for large-scale websites with frequent content updates by non-technical content providers. The WordPress Theme is based on the same framework as UA.edu and the UA Web Templates, but offers prebuilt plug-and-play pages and formats for WordPress, and allow customization of the site's specifics within the admin panel of WordPress. If you have questions about WordPress hosting, please contact the IT Service Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many colleges, divisions and departments on campus have the support of full-time or part-time web developers, designers or content specialists to build and manage their website. You are encouraged to seek out available in-house resources for assistance with web needs in order to ensure the best possible flow of information. If your area does not have support for web needs, or if you need specific support with utilizing the UA Web Templates or WordPress Themes, please contact the Department of Web Communications.
UA faculty and graduate students are eligible for a People.ua.edu website provided by the Office of Multimedia Services. Refer to the website http://people.ua.edu for more information on requesting a site.
Departments and organizations may request the creation of a virtual host for official UA web sites in the format "groupname.ua.edu", subject to meeting certain conditions. For more information on how to request a virtual host for your official UA web site, please visit Virtual Hosts at The University of Alabama.
Request that your site be added to UA's A-Z Site Index by submitting your information here.
This section is intended to serve as a practical guide for designing web sites in accordance with the UA Web Policy and institutional best practices.
Visitors to Official University Web Sites must be able to determine at all times that they are visiting a portion of the UA site. Clear identification of The University of Alabama should be included on all top-level pages of official UA websites.
The University nameplate or wordmark is the preferred means of identification. These items are available for download from the UA Web Images page.
Designers are encouraged to employ prominent use of the school colors on their Web pages.
Visitors to Official University Web Sites must be afforded the convenience of being a click away from accessing the UA home page (www.ua.edu). A clearly labeled link to the UA home page should be included on each page of all official UA sites.
Visitors to Official University Web Sites must be able to contact the page maintainer and receive a response within a reasonable period of time. A contact e-mail address, link to contact form, or name/phone number should be included on each Web page. The footer, near the bottom of a web site, is a common place for this information to reside.
UA web content should be presented using editorial standards appropriate for an institute of higher learning. While the level of formality may vary depending on the focus and audience of your site, proper spelling, punctuation, and style, make our sites more credible and more meaningful to our users. Refer to the UA Editorial Style Guide for further assistance.
When writing for the web, text should be kept as short as possible without sacrificing meaning or clarity. Also, keep in mind that most readers scan pages rather than reading each word from top to bottom. For more information on writing fo the web, please refer to Writing for the Web by Jakob Nielsen.
Visitors expect and deserve valid, up-to-date information on our Web pages. A site with fresh and timely information encourages return visits and increases the overall effectiveness of the Web site.
Please account for site maintenance in the early phases of your website design or redesign and allocate resources accordingly. At the very least, a site should not contain outdated, inaccurate information. Ideally, the site will evolve over time according to the needs of your unit and the needs of your website's visitors.
All official UA web sites must clearly link to the official UA disclaimer at www.ua.edu/disclaimer.html.
The University of Alabama encourages individuals with disabilities to participate in our many programs and activities, and is committed to ensuring that our facilities and the information, services, courses and technology we provide are inclusive and accessible in accordance with applicable law. Consistent with this commitment, the University has launched an accessibility initiative to provide our technology users, including those with disabilities, a functional and accessible technology experience with our Web presence and our instructional and emerging technologies.
To further this initiative, the UA administration and UA Web professionals are making progress to meet World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG 2.0 AA, over the next four years. To begin this process, UA will audit existing Web materials to help Web teams determine appropriate timelines and resources needed to reach WCAG 2.0 AA. For more information, please refer to http://accessibility.ua.edu.
Web content is fundamentally different from print and other traditional media formats due to the variation in how users might access web information. Here is a partial list of variables that come into play:
Given these conditions, the goal of the web designer is to make content accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of device, settings, etc.
Specific recommendations supported by the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative include:
Designers are encouraged to favor text over graphics in applications where graphics afford no real benefit to the user for the following reasons:
When you do use images, remember to present a meaningful alt attribute for each image.
Designers are encouraged to maximize the constrast between text and background on pages to promote readability, particularly for low vision users.
Do not underline words that are not hyperlinks, as they are often mistaken for links. Use bold or italics to draw attention to key words or phrases.
The following resources can help you learn more about building and managing websites more effectively.