Common Errors on Webpages

There are many common issues you can watch for on your webpages to help increase the quality and search engine optimization (SEO) of your pages, make them more accessible, and follow Michigan Tech’s editorial standards.

Specific instructions that may be included below are for Michigan Tech’s OU Campus CMS.


It only takes a few misspellings to affect a user’s impression of your website. Be sure to use the spell checking options within OU Campus before publishing your pages. The system does not check spelling as you go. Within the editor you can use the Spell Check icon Spell Check icon to check the existing text and underline spelling errors. Before publishing you should always run the Final Checks, which includes a spelling check.

Large Image Files

Having images on your page that are too large can slow down the page load time and frustrate your users. All images that are used in the CMS should be created using the Image Editor gadget in the CMS. This process includes the files being compressed and optimized for the web to manage that file size. Be sure to insert or link to these edited files, not the original.

Email Address Links

Linking email addresses on your page make it easier for users to contact you, especially from a mobile device. When you paste text into the page or have an email address at the end of a sentence followed by a period, the addresses are not linked automatically. The easiest way to add the link is to put your cursor after the address, press space (this should automatically recognize the email address and link it), then delete the space. You can also use the Mailto Link icon Mailto Link icon to manually add the link.

Deprecated HTML Tags

There are several outdated HTML codes for some formatting that can get copied and pasted in if you’re not careful. While the text will appear how you want it to a sighted user, it will cause problems for screen readers. This includes

bold <b> should be <strong>

and italics <i> should be <em>

Be sure to use Paste as Text Paste as Text icon before pasting or Clear Formatting Clear Formatting icon after pasting to remove all of the potentially bad code, then use the formatting tools available in the CMS editor to apply the needed styles.


On webpages, underlines signify links and should not be used to format text for other reasons. If you want to make some text stand out, use headings, bold, or italics as appropriate instead.

Empty Headings

Because screen reader users can navigate your page using the headings, having a heading tag with no content in it can cause problems. Be sure there are no blank line spaces between content on your page.

Missing Meta Information

A meta description displays in search engine results as the short summary of the page’s content. Along with the meta title, which is the text that shows up in the browser’s tab, it is potentially one of the only pieces of content a user will see from your site, so it plays an important role in the search engine optimization for the page. Keywords help your page rank higher in the search results.

If you do not fill out the Description and Keyword fields when setting up a new webpage, be sure to go back and add the information before publishing. In OU Campus, the meta title will automatically be generated based on the page and site titles.

Underscores in URLs

URLs with hyphens are preferred over underscores by Google. Hyphens make URLs easier for search engines and real people to read. Do not use underscores in your folder or filenames—only use lower case letters, numbers, and hyphens.

H1 Headers

Having multiple <h1> tags can confuse search engines. The only H1 heading on your page should be the page title. Do not add Heading 1 to the body of your webpages.

Words in All Caps

Not only can it be harder to read, but etiquette generally discourages the use of all caps online. Instead, use headings, bold, or italics as appropriate to make the message stand out.

Michigan Tech Editorial Guide

Michigan Tech’s Editorial Guide has additional information about text formatting, style, and punctuation. These are some of the common issues seen on our webpages that are easy to avoid. Following the Editorial Guide will help maintain a consistent user experience across all our pages.

Phone Number Format

Phone numbers should be formatted with hyphens, not parentheses or periods.

Example: 906-487-1885

And, Not &

Ampersand (&) should only be used for brand-specific words, Twitter or in lists and titles. Otherwise use “and.”


Times should be listed using a.m. and p.m. When the time is on the hour, do not include :00, just list the number. Use noon or midnight rather than 12 p.m. or 12 a.m.

Example: 8 a.m.—2:30 p.m. or 8—11 a.m.


Dates should be spelled out and include the day of the week and year for informational purposes. Do not add nd or st to the number portion.

Example: Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Numbers Zero Through Nine

Numbers zero to nine are always spelled out except in recipes, with staff positions, or in credit hours.

Example: There were six people in class taking 3 credits.

Communicating on COVID-19

Many areas of Michigan Tech are in charge of various guidelines, protocols, resources, frequently asked questions, and other information resulting from COVID-19. What is the best way to get this content onto your CMS website?

Documents or Webpages?

If your department is generating or receiving new content, you generally have a couple options for posting it online:

  1. Add to an existing webpage
  2. Create a new webpage
  3. Upload as a Word Document or PDF

If you have a small amount of content, like a status update, that relates to an existing webpage, we recommend adding a message box to that existing page. See the COVID-19 message box at the top of the Current Students webpage for an example.

If you have a lot of content, we recommend creating a new webpage. Here are some examples from other departments:

Sometimes, it may be tempting to post a PDF or other document format. Because these files are not as accessible or easy to use as a CMS webpage, we recommend only posting files if they are coming from a non-Michigan Tech entity, like the CDC or State of Michigan. An exception to this recommendation could be if the document is solely for printing purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions

When posting COVID-19 frequently asked questions, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Add a date after the answer, so users know if the information is new, has changed, or has been verified recently. Review several of the HR FAQs to see statuses used well.
  2. If you have more than seven total FAQs, try to organize them into subcategories to make your listing more scannable and readable. Review the groupings used by the HR FAQs as a good example.

In OU Campus, use the FAQ Ordered List snippet to format your questions and answers.

Message Boxes

You may need to post a COVID-19 related message box onto an existing webpage. Examples include:

You can create a message box by using a Boxed Sections snippet with single column and full border options selected in OU Campus.


Calling out your COVID-19 information on your homepage may be important. There are a few options to do this:


You can add rollover buttons within the Mediazone of your homepage. Examples include:

In OU Campus, select the Text Over Image banner type in the MultiEdit Content screen and add content in the Media Title and Banner Content fields.

Message Box

You can add a message box to your homepage or work your COVID-19 content into your existing message box. As an example, Facilities worked their COVID-19 content into there Announcements box:

Message boxes are created by using a Boxed Sections snippet with single column and full border options selected in OU Campus. On a homepage, this is generally done in the Main Content region.

Blog Feed

If you have a blog feed on your homepage, you can make COVID-19 posts in your department blog that feed your homepage. HR does a good job of this:

Cross-Linking Content

There may be content from the COVID-19 website that applies to your own website. It is great to cross-link resources! Use the tactics listed above to reference any relevant COVID-19 content from any site onto your own website.

Similarly, you can cross-link your own content across your CMS website. For example information about pass/fail could be linked to on a homepage, a webpage about GPA, and a webpage about add/drop schedules. Link to new COVID-19 content where ever you think your audience might look for it or find it helpful.

You can use and combine these tactics to get COVID-19 content in front of your audiences.

Questions? Email We are here to help you and are happy to talk through what your scenario is and what might be best. We are also happy to provide technical support.

Stay safe everyone!

Joel Vertin
Director of Digital Services

My Michigan Tech (Student Testimonial) Initiative

We have been busy launching a student testimonial initiative called My Michigan Tech over the past few months. This is really neat project that has allowed us to talk to a bunch of our students and learn about their Michigan Tech experiences.

Project Motivation

In August, an admissions and enrollment consultant came to campus. One great idea shared was to prioritize letting prospective students learn about Michigan Tech through storytelling by our current students. This could be accomplished through quotes and stories in text and video forms.

Storytelling is a powerful marketing tool. More importantly, though, it is a genuine way to share great information about Michigan Tech. Our students are our story, after all. Why not hear from them?

Initial Process

We put together a Google Form asking five basic questions about our students’ experiences. We then put together an email list of student ambassadors that Undergraduate Admissions works with and invited those students to tell their story. We also invited the campus community to refer students directly to our form via a Tech Today announcement.


We used a voluntary approach to collecting these initial testimonials to speed up the process. Student ambassadors are passionate about Michigan Tech making them the perfect students to talk to. Opening the invite to campus via Tech Today made sure no one was left out.

As responses came in, our editorial team started categorizing them. Some were perfect for the web and some perfect for a video testimonial. We blocked a couple dates, times, and locations with our videographer and emailed more than two dozen of the student respondents—explaining the video component of our initiative and inviting them to choose a time slot to be filmed. In total we contacted ~30 students with the goal of filling 12 video time slots.

We used a first-come, first-serve approach to scheduling video to move quickly and efficiently, knowing there was a desire to show immediate progress. We wanted to mature our concept, knowing that a successful product would lead to more interest in helping us down the road.


In total, 60 students voluntarily responded to our initial Google Form. Their stories were truly outstanding. We used those responses to identify more than 200 quotes and stories for our websites. We also created nine testimonial videos.

As of February 12, our My Michigan Tech videos have been viewed more than 2,600 times on our websites and YouTube. Additionally, we are running the videos natively on the various Michigan Tech social media accounts. And, we are using these videos in various UMC-driven digital ad campaigns.

These quotes, stories, and videos have been distributed across the program pages on the Admissions website and extra content has been shared with relevant academic CMS liaisons for use on their own sites. In particular, the School of Business and the various departments within the College of Sciences and Arts have done a great job of getting testimonial content onto the majority of their recruitment webpages.

Future Plans

For the spring semester, we are expanding our My Michigan Tech video series by scheduling seventeen additional recordings. For this round, we are working to create a more well-rounded view of our campus and the programs. We are also finishing processing some footage captured in the fall.

Campus Collaboration

The campus community is invited to share potential testimonial students with UMC by emailing We will continue this series in the summer and fall and will need additional volunteers. We can also use some backups for the spring, in the event that some previously identified students can’t participate. We are excited to work with you!

Create Your Own

You can also model your own testimonial series to match ours by following these tips:

  1. Create a digital questionnaire using Google Docs or Google Forms
  2. Send the questionnaire to your students. Student ambassador lists are a great resource as are learning center coaches, lab supervisors, and student workers.
  3. Edit the quotes and stories for your social media accounts and CMS website. Email if you would like any editing tips.
  4. We can recommend a local video vendor to assist you and can lend you our graphics package. Email for more details.

The Digital Services team is really excited about this project, the progress that we’ve made in a short time, and future stories that we will be capturing. We have such special students. It is exciting to give them an avenue to share their experiences with future Huskies and and we’re thankful for the opportunity to work with them. Feedback on this initiative is welcomed.

Joel Vertin
Director of Digital Services

Improving Our YouTube Channel

Video screenshot example.

We have been working on reorganizing our YouTube channel and reprioritizing the type of video projects that we take on. This process involved benchmarking YouTube channels from over two dozen other universities, creating and updating playlists on our channel, and reorganizing our existing videos.

Our writing team has helped us craft our video titles, descriptions, and, tags. We have started outsourcing closed captions (and open captions where needed). We have explored which videos should be public (triggers a push notification to our subscribers) versus unlisted (great when you need to embed on a website, but don’t need the video to otherwise be publicly available). And UMC’s change in focus has allowed us to pursue high-impact projects.

Through all this, our efforts have been paying off.

What Do the Stats Say?

I pulled stats from our YouTube channel for October 1, 2018-January 18, 2019 and compared to the same time frame from last year—giving an apples-to-apples comparison. Note that these stats do not include any paid ads, so they are not skewed. These stats also only represent engagement on our YouTube channel and don’t take into account our videos natively shared on other platforms, such as Facebook.

During this time, we have been empowered to plan and execute our own video projects on behalf of the University’s reputation and recruitment goals. Our stats show that our new approach and reorganized channel have been successful

Stat Summary

Over the outlined time frame:

  1. Video views and video minutes watched are up 21% and 37% respectively.
    • This is not necessarily surprising given that we also increased our video production volume during the same time frame. By choosing our own video projects, we have been able to reduce product cost and increase production.
  2. Average time watched has increased 13 seconds per video.
    • This shows that our improvements are not just purely from production volume as our quality has also improved significantly. Viewers are spending more time watching our videos now.
  3. We saw a significant increase in views from users organically searching via Google/YouTube.
    • We know that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. It is important to improve our video SEO to attract more views and we have put an increased focus on strategic video titles, descriptions, closed captions, tags, and playlist organization. Our efforts are clearly working.
  4. Our net subscriber gain was 189 for the current time frame compared to 130 for the previous time frame.
    • Our content is more attractive and is driving a larger subscriber growth rate.
  5. Our video shares increased from 614 to 1,049 over this time frame compared to the last.
    • The content that we have been choosing to create is more sharable according to our subscribers.

We’re still early in our new focus for campus recruitment and reputation, but I’m thrilled with the early results. We’ll keep an eye on our channel metrics moving forward. I’m looking forward to working through the video projects we have slated for this spring semester.

Joel C. Vertin
Digital Services

Introducing the Digital Services Report and Roadmap

Digital Services Report and Roadmap. Spring 2019.

I’m very excited to share our first ever Digital Services Report and Roadmap. Using this format, it is my plan to share two flavors of information with our campus collaborators:

  • A look back at work completed over the previous semester: sharing completed projects and initiatives, relevant analytics, and successes
  • A roadmap showing what we plan on working on for the upcoming semester

Looking backwards allows us to share our work and inform campus of what we’ve done. Our partners may find inspiration from a project we have previously completed. And it may become more evident why we may have had to turn down other project requests.

Looking forwards helps us to provide transparency of our plans and goals. Our future work will always relate to UMC’s mission and focus and I invite campus to reach out and suggest ways to plug into our projects and initiatives.

I’m excited to produce this document each semester and see it evolve over time and I welcome feedback from our campus community. Thank you all for working with us.

Joel C. Vertin
Director of Digital Services

A Better Footer for All

The Digital Services team is developing an upgraded global footer design for our CMS websites. The upgrade puts a strategic focus on marketing and recruitment in line with our mission to increase enrollment.


We are excited to introduce some new, customizable options. In addition to customizing your contact information, you will now be able to add call-to-action (CTA) buttons and social media icons to your CMS website’s footer. Options include:

  1. No CTA buttons or social media icons (base footer only)
  2. Add social media icons linking to the social media channels of your choice
  3. Add a “Give” button, linking to the giving page of your choice
  4. Add three recruitment buttons, letting users Request Information, Schedule a Visit, or Apply

You can also use any combination of option #2, #3, and #4.

Upgrading Process

The base footer will launch automatically using your existing contact information in the next week. Nothing is required of you. Additions can be used on an opt-in basis. Instructions for enabling the CTA buttons and social media icons will be sent to CMS Liaisons later this month.

Example Footers

Design elements may be still be adjusted slightly by UMC, but the following examples preview the design for our new footer options.

Base Footer (Example #1)

The contact information will continue to be customizable as it is in our current footer design.

Base footer example.

Social Media Icons (Example #2)

You can choose from our standard social media icons and point them to social accounts of your choice.

Footer example with social media icons.

Give Button (Example #3)

You can choose where the giving button links to. We recommend using this button only if your department has it’s own giving webpage, although you could also choose to link to the University’s giving website.

Footer example with giving button.

Recruitment Buttons (Example #4)

You must add all three recruitment buttons together (all or nothing) and they will automatically link to the appropriate University-level webpages for you.

Footer example with recruitment buttons.

Combination Option

You can mix and match between options #2, #3, and #4. Here is one example of a potential combination.

Footer example with all options.


We are very excited about an increased focus on recruitment that matches our University goals. Any feedback, questions, or concerns can be sent to Thank you.

Joel C. Vertin
Director of Digital Services

A New Focus in 2019

As Digital Services gears up for 2019, it is important to acknowledge some leadership changes that have taken place. Through the restructuring within the President’s Council (formerly the Executive Team), University Relations and Enrollment (URE) was elevated and University Marketing and Communications (UMC) has been tasked with boosting the University’s external reputation and recruitment efforts nationally.

Project Mix

What does this mean? Digital Services—the web team and studio team within UMC—has shifted to prioritize external-facing projects—spearheaded by URE—that have a large, external audience(s). Some examples include:

  • digital/online/social media advertising
  • Michigan Tech News and Unscripted
  • Michigan Tech and Research Magazines
  • national recruitment initiatives
  • recruitment/research marketing photography packages
  • research narrative promotions
  • student testimonial and researcher videos
  • TV commercials and brand videos

Recent Project Launches

We have already launched a brand campaign and website and have launched two supporting video campaigns:

  1. My Michigan Tech: our students talking about why they came to Michigan Tech and the experiences that make this place so awesome
  2. Up-Close-and-Personals: faculty, staff, and student researchers showcasing their research in their own words.

Our playlist of videos has been feeding the Tomorrow Needs website, our University social media channels, the undergraduate admissions website, and strategic digital advertisements. This rich content is also available for departmental websites—we have been alerting relevant CMS liaisons when videos are released. Additional videos are in the works and will be launched during the spring semester.

We have also partnered with a video agency to launch a 60 second commercial spot for Michigan Tech. Depending on your market or streaming platform, you may have seen it while watching the GLI. It is outstanding.

We will be pushing our commercial on Tomorrow Needs, YouTube, and over digital ads in the coming weeks and I will be sure to share it out. We are also working on some new versions and some shorter 30 and 15 second cuts for secondary TV markets and digital advertisements.

Campus Projects

As our campus community looks to partner with Digital Services moving forward, we will be taking in your requests and checking the following:

  1. Does your request support our University reputation or recruitment goals?
  2. Is your target audience external?
  3. How big is the reach of your project?

We are committed to meeting these requirements and are working on streamlining our online request forms to better reflect this new mission. Campus can continue to submit requests as they normally would in the mean time.

When requests do not fit our new mission or when our project volume precludes us from helping right away, we will let our clients know and attempt to offer alternatives, including other project ideas, other campus collaboration resources, or outside vendors that can help.

Tomorrow Needs . . .

I am very excited about these changes as it sets up Digital Services to make the biggest impact possible to get our message out nationally. Tomorrow needs Michigan Tech. Seeing the launch of Tomorrow Needs, our 60 second commercial spot, and more than one dozen student testimonial and ‘up-close-and-personal’ research videos provide proof of the work we can do and the impact we can have when empowered to focus on our goals.

I appreciate campus’ support and welcome any feedback on this shift as we move into 2019 and beyond. I also want to thank all the faculty, staff, and students that have helped with our initial projects. We have interviewed dozens of outstanding people and have captured photos, footage, and stories in more than two dozen campus locations in a short timeframe. We would not be able to accomplish this without your help. Thank you for being great collaborators with us!

Joel C. Vertin
Director of Digital Services

Upgrading your Giving Priorities

When we started rolling out CMS websites back in 2007, many of our academic departments wanted some sort of Giving Opportunities webpage on their shiny new website.

Some departments were able to hone in on a few key priorities. Some departments struggled to chose specific priorities, so they kept things very vague. And some departments listed everything fund they had and the kitchen sink.

These pages generally looked the same: an image slideshow, some headings and bullets, and some “Give Now” buttons.

Fast forward to 2017, and we have a new widget available in our new CMS template. Called “Gift Boxes”, this widget has a more modern look and feel and allows you to:

  • show a representative fund/priority image
  • show a fundraising goal for the particular fund/priority
  • show a progress bar indicating how close we are to the goal
    • The progress bar automatically updates overnight
  • provide a short description of the fund/priority
  • provide a link to a longer webpage all about the fund. The full webpage can include:
    • A point of contact
    • Additional descriptions
    • Additional photos
    • Social media sharing icons
    • The ability to comment on the fund via the Facebook commenting platform

You can view a great example of how to use these new gift boxes on the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science website.

This new widget can help you create a more engaging, powerful, and attractive Giving Opportunities webpage that showcases your priorities.

You can use these boxes to highlight your key priorities and follow them up with more general descriptions, bulleted lists, and/or sliders for your additional opportunities. You can also change the funds/priorities that you feature with these boxes through out the year.

Creating Gift Boxes

In order to create a gift box, you must first have an account number registered with the Michigan Tech Fund. Once you have your account number, you can follow our online documentation and create your own gift boxes on your CMS website.

We happy to provide this new feature to our CMS liaisons. If you have questions, please contact us at

Joel Vertin
Director of Digital Services

Hyphen—or Dash?

Hyphens are a punctuation workhorse. We use a lot of them in online writing. But misuse can lead to a misunderstanding, grammarist’s gall, or typesetter’s tizzy.

There’s help for all of us—en and em dashes. They’ve been around forever. Think small (hyphen), medium (en dash), and large (em dash).

En Dash

The en dash (–) is longer than a hyphen (-) and is most often used for comparisons, ranges, and connections.


The Michigan Tech–Northern Michigan hockey game is Friday.

This is the fall–winter issue of the magazine.

The Houghton–Chicago flight is operated by United Airlines SkyWest.

Em Dash

The em dash (—) is longer than and en dash (–) and is most often used for explaining, separating, and interrupting.


Our last three presidents—Stein, Tompkins, and Mroz—focused on research goals.

Undergraduates collect, catalogue, and examine—they dig in right away.

Wildlife Ecology and Management—BS

She can—she will—pursue an advanced academic degree.

Typing Dashes

These keyboard shortcuts will work in most cases.


En dash: Option­­–Minus

Em dash: Shift–Option–Minus


En dash: ALT + 0150 on the numeric keypad only

Em dash: ALT + 0151 on the numeric keypad only

Fair Warning

Style guides vary on how hyphens and dashes are used. Michigan Tech’s Editorial Guide will show you examples of how we use hyphens and dashes.

Many people consider dashes too fussy and give in to hyphens. Remember the goal is clarity. Write online text that is easy to read. And, when appropriate, give your text a better break.

Gail Sweeting
Digital Content Manager

Meeting Photography Needs

As marketing requests have grown and as an emphasis on visuals through print, social media, and websites have continued to expand, the need for quality photography in our projects has changed over time.

In response to this shifting dynamic, our University photographer, Sarah Bird, has shifted to a marketing photographer role.

Sarah will focus on producing the visuals that bring UMC projects to life. She will capture the people, experiences, and opportunities of Michigan Tech in a way that represents and enhances our brand. She will work with departments, groups, and areas on high-impact, external-facing projects.

Internal Projects and Event Coverage

We understand that there has also been growth in internal requests, including projects that have a smaller scope or which are event oriented. To best use our resources, we would like to explore ways to shape and elevate these projects into a larger marketing initiative. If the request ultimately falls outside our scope, we will offer student interns as their schedules allow.

Additionally, we are working with the student photography club to develop a list of students that departments can hire on a case-by-case or semester basis to get more coverage. This will add an additional layer of support to campus.

Induction and Portrait Coverage

Portrait photography, including during induction ceremonies, are particularly challenging due to the complexity in setup and tear down, the unique skill set and experience needed, and the amount of time required. Because of this, we recommend that departments hire a third-party to cover any events or needs that require portraits or a studio setup.

Our marketing photographer will continue to provide campus with one or two open portrait sessions each year. These open sessions will be advertised in Tech Today.

Making a Request

If your department would like to request a photographer to take photos, you can use our online photo request form. 2-3 weeks notice is preferred to assist with planning and to increase the chances that we can fulfill your request. If a photographer is not available or if your request is outside of our scope, we may suggest a set of existing photos instead and we may provide a list of students that can be hired by your department instead.

If your department would like to request a set of photos already on file within UMC, you can use our online photo search form. Our photo request links are also available on the UMC website.

If you have any questions or concerns about this shift, you are welcome to contact Joel Vertin at 906-487-3635 or