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.

Misspellings

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There are several outdated HTML codes for some formatting that can get copied and pasted in if you’re not careful.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.

Underlines

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.”

Time

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

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.

Homepages

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

Mediazone

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 cmshelp@mtu.edu. 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?


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.


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.

Customization

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.


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.


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.


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.


OU Campus: A Better CMS for All

We are excited to begin rolling out our new CMS product, OU Campus, beginning in April. We have created an entirely new printed workbook and corresponding blog posts to help campus learn this new system.

There are many things that are easier to do in OU Campus. Each webpage will have a shortcut link in the footer that you can use to easily access and update content directly in the CMS. The update process will be more visual: no more slotting or creating multiple Highlights before assembling your webpage. You’ll be able to publish your changes instantly, instead of waiting for the next scheduled publish.