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JSU Web Brand Guide and Best Practices

The purpose of this guide is to ensure quality and consistency across the jsu.edu domain in accordance with the JSU Web Policy. 

General Guidelines

JSU uses the Cascade Content Management System (CMS) to manage its web pages. All JSU web editors should have a working knowledge of web browsers and site structure. They will receive training in the use of Cascade CMS before page editing is allowed.

All JSU web editors must participate in annual training and (re)certification for Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) web compliance. This is required by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.

The use of proper grammar and correct spelling are expected on the jsu.edu domain. Proofreading of all site content is required before a page goes live. Ongoing inattention to website quality that results in repeated spelling and grammar errors and broken links is grounds for revocation of Cascade credentials.

JSU’s Web Team is happy to assist web editors with content editing and technical issues. To ensure faster response, web editors must use the Web Help Request form on the JSU Web Services web site. Requests are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. No web work will be performed until the request form has been filled out. No exceptions.

Site Structure

A departmental website is not a catch all for internal documents. It should be designed for the audience – the prospective student—first.  Sites should be lean, clean and easy to skim. Less is more.

Because our data tells us that more than half of our site traffic comes from mobile, JSU web sites should be designed for mobile first. Sites need to be easily navigable on mobile, and content should be minimal. Think bulleted lists, not dissertations.

Careful attention to site organization from the beginning can save a lot of work and headaches later. Think of the website as a streamlined filing cabinet. Make a place for things, and put everything in its place. Curtail clutter. Create folders that are logical. Remember that any name assigned to folders and files will be reflected in the URLs for the site.

Within the CMS, each page must be given a display name, title, description, and keywords. (Consult with Web Services staff about keywords)

Navigation should be streamlined. Ideally, a site’s left navigation should have no more than six “parent” folders.

Example:

Department of Emergency Management
Academic Programs
Student Resources
Frequently Asked Questions
Scholarship Opportunities
About the Department

Links

Never use “click here” or “this link” (or similar phrases) to indicate links. Instead, use text within the copy that defines the destination and use that text as the link text.

Example:

We offer eleven different degrees with twenty-nine majors at the master's level, the post-master's Educational Specialist degree with five majors, four graduate certificates, and a Doctor of Science degree in Emergency Management and a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Page Content

Web content should be written in second person and at an eighth grade Flesch-Kincaid reading level.  Writing in second person tense makes the copy more appealing to the target audience. Writing at an eighth grade reading level makes it easier for our target audience to digest the content quickly.

Prospective students don’t come to your page in search of your mission statement. They seek specific information about attending JSU, quickly. If they don’t find that information immediately, they move on. School/department home pages should never be a regurgitation of mission, vision, values, and goals of the school/department, although this information can be included on an “about” page. The home page should quickly command attention from the user, help them to connect the dots to reach their educational goal, and end with a call to action.  

Examples of good calls to action:

  • Ready to Apply to JSU?
  • Have questions? Contact us!
  • Sign up for a mailing list/ enroll in CRM
  • “Downloadables” like JSU branded or authored eBooks or white papers that offer added value to the audience (good topics--  how to succeed in school, what careers are there in this field?)

To make our site ADA compliant and SEO friendly, we should strive to have most content in web page (html) format. PDFs should only be used when official, exact copies of official documents are required. PDFs are not easily read by screen readers; therefore, they negatively impact our ADA web compliance.

Duplication of content on multiple pages can result in JSU’s entire website being dropped from Google Search results. No two web pages on the jsu.edu domain should contain the same content. Instead, links should be placed where needed to offer content from another area of the jsu.edu domain to site visitors. There should never be two copies of the same file on our web servers. Violations will result in revocation of Cascade credentials.

Example:

Link to the Registrar’s site for graduation information instead of duplicating graduation information on multiple department websites; link to the Student Financial Services site for financial aid and scholarship information.

Naming Conventions

Files should never have spaces in their title. Place a dash or hyphen between words in a document title. Again, keep in mind that file names will be displayed in the URL.

Images

The right image can bring a web page to life. A poorly chosen or improperly sized or placed image can make a visitor flee a web site! Stylistically, JSU strives to use quality web images that tell our unique story. Photo selections should be people-based and reflect our diverse campus community. Images of our beautiful campus are also acceptable.  JSU has a great resource in our university photographer, who maintains online galleries. Schools/departments are strongly encouraged to work with the university photographer to plan and shoot engaging images for web sites, including professional head shots for faculty and staff pages.

To incorporate photos into JSU’s web pages, images must be uploaded to the content management system and linked to them from within the system. Never copy and paste an image into the CMS from another source, such as an email. This will result in a page load stall, and the web visitor will likely be forced to quit his/her browser to leave the site.

Ideally, images should be sized prior to uploading to the CMS. If no photo editing software is available offline, images may be sized within Cascade. Do not embed high-resolution images at full size. Web visitors do not appreciate having their data allotment for the month wiped out by large image loads!

All images uploaded to the CMS must have an alternate text tag, to make them ADA  Compliant.

Example:

Image sizes used on the jsu.edu domain:

  • School home page sliders—1200 x 350 px @ 72 ppi
  • Department home page sliders—960 x 238 px @ 72 ppi
  • Portraits—lg 180 x 250 px @ 72 ppi
  • Portraits—sm 100 x 150 px @ 72 ppi

When resizing images, make certain that the image is resized proportionally. This prevents the travesty known as “Bert and Ernie” head.  Resizing proportionally is easy to do by clicking the “chain link” icon when resizing in the image editor within the CMS. 

Video

Content developed for JSU web distribution is copyright JSU and should state such.

Content to be embedded on pages within the jsu.edu domain must be approved by Web Services and Marketing and Communication prior to display.

No video will be embedded on the JSU.edu domain until it is properly captioned to ADA standards. Non-compliant content is subject to removal without notification.

For more information about ADA video captioning, visit the CaptioningKey website.

Colors and Fonts

Colors and fonts on the jsu.edu domain are styled at the template level. For this reason, font color should not be changed for emphasis. Example: Because the default link color on the jsu.edu domain is red, the use of red headlines can confuse the audience. Instead, text that needs emphasis should be bolded or made slightly larger.  

Doing It Right

The JSU Department of Emergency Management is a good example of a JSU web site done right. Its left parent navigation is clear and clean, and its main content is presented in short, easy-to-digest sections that are helped by the use of bullets and numbered lists. Links to the program information-- the most important information on the page-- are easily seen. Content is also written to and for the prospective student. There is no “fluff” on the page, making the entire page visible in two scrolls on a mobile device! There are three calls to action on the page, one in each section.

Calendar Guidelines

You reserved your venue, booked an amazing guest speaker, and even ordered nibbles for your guests… and NO ONE SHOWED!
 
A perfect event doesn’t guarantee a packed house. For that, you’ll need a little publicity! What better place to share your event details than on the JSU homepage, through the new and improved campus calendar?
 
After a lengthy review of many college calendars, in Fall 2017 JSU purchased a popular calendar management system called Trumba. This new calendar system is showcased on the JSU homepage and www.jsu.edu/calendars. Now, promoting your event can be as easy as using the "Submit an Event" button on the main calendar page.  All JSU organizations and departments are strongly encouraged to contribute their JSU-sponsored events to this central calendar. 
 

(Please note: To be considered for inclusion in the campuswide "Red & White" weekly newsletter produced by the JSU Office of Public Relations, events must first be submitted to the online events calendar. Also, effective Fall 2017, submission of the Office of Public Relations' online news request form does not place your event on the campus calendar!)

 
Beyond being fast and user-friendly, there are many features that make JSU's new calendar sing. Here are a few of our favorites:
 
Submitting Events

  • Images and expanded descriptions- This is your chance to sell your event! Make your entry stand out through details and imagery
  • Links- Drive traffic back to your website or to your social media page by including a link with your calendar submission
  • QR Code- Download your event’s QR code image and use it on printed promotional materials. When mobile users scan the code, they can view your event on the web, share it, and even add it their device’s calendar
  • Easy event management- When you submit your event, you are emailed a confirmation message containing a link that allows you to manage your event details (changes/cancellations)

 
Viewing and Sharing Events

  • Social sharing- With one click, you can share an event on your social channels
  • Subscription- Get a weekly email digest of upcoming JSU events, an RSS feed, or add the JSU calendar to your preferred calendar software on your device
  • Reminders- Want to be reminded of a specific event or notified if it changes? Trumba can email or text you updates
  • View options- Filter by category, search for events by keyword or type, and choose how you want the calendar displayed
  • Permalink- Each event has a specific URL for easy sharing

 
More visitors will see your event on the JSU calendar than through an embedded calendar or a listing on your individual department website. 

Put your announcements where their eyes are looking. Showcase your event on the JSU event calendar!

Calendar Criteria

The JSU campus calendar is not to be confused with the university’s academic calendar, which resides on the Registrar’s website. The campus calendar is reserved for public events taking place at certain times, on certain dates, at actual locations, preferably on campus.

All events appearing on the JSU campus calendar must be sponsored by an official JSU entity. This applies to schools, departments, and organizations.  

The campus calendar is not an appropriate avenue for promoting application or sign-up periods. It will not be used to promote scheduled meetings of small, exclusive groups or organizations. (Examples: Chapter meetings for Greek organizations, departmental meetings)

Exceptions to this are the Homecoming and SGA elections, which are conducted online, are open to all students, and take place within a very specific time period.

Submitting Events

Event submissions will be verified before they are added to the calendar. Submitters must provide a JSU email address AND a phone number when submitting events.

It is highly recommended that event organizers place contact information in the “Description” field of the event submission form. Contact information entered in the “Contact,” “JSU Email,” and “Phone #” fields on the event submission form is considered private and will be used only by calendar administrators to verify submitter identity and information for internal purposes.

The use of expanded descriptions and images is recommended because it helps your event get better exposure. For images, square-cropped images work best (400 px square is ideal!), as do images that don’t contain a lot of text. Photos are for decorative purposes only; they are not clickable. Do not rely on your photos to deliver your event information; they are small and text will be illegible. Submit only photos owned by JSU or you. Inappropriate, copyrighted or unsuitable photos will be removed.

Punctuation, Grammar and Style

Content on the JSU website should adhere to the Jacksonville State University Manual of Style and Usage.

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