Category Archives: best practices


Creating Headings

It is important to use properly structured HTML headings when organizing your web content. Think of webpage headings as a table of contents for a story.

Headings are not required on webpages. However, they help break up and organize lengthy informational webpages—improving readability. Proper heading use is not only important for accessibility, it also has search engine optimization benefits, which can help your webpages rank higher in Google’s search results.

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Proper Content and Page Structure

The following tips are meant to help CMS liaisons with day-to-day maintenance of basic content on their websites.

Paste as Text

If you paste content from a document or email into OU Campus, you will likely get a bunch of bad code added behind the scenes that will effect how your webpage will look at function. To avoid issues, try clicking the “Paste as Text” button before pasting your content or use the Ctrl + Shift + V key combination.

Paste as Text shortcut
Paste as Text shortcut

The negative to pasting as text is that you will have to do some formatting manually (adding bold, adding links, etc). However, this will ensure that your website meets brand standards and works correctly on all devices.

Headings

It is important to use proper HTML headings instead of bold paragraphs or single lines of text. To apply a heading style to a line of text, put your cursor inside of the line of text and then select a heading level from the left-most dropdown menu in OU Campus. The same method working in other online applications, such as Google Docs.

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Writing Good ALT Tags

ALT tags (also known as Image Descriptions) are a very important feature involving all images on any given website. Moz does a good job of explaining what ALT tags are. Please take a moment to read up on what ALT tags are and why they are important. Moz also provides some tips for how to write good ones.

There are many uses for ALT tags. The most well-known ones are:

  1. Screen readers will speak the ALT tag of an image for users who cannot see
  2. If an image cannot be loaded due to some sort of network or IT error, the ALT tag will display instead
  3. ALT tags boost search engine rankings and can help your website’s images display in Google search results

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How to copy/paste clean code

Have you ever pasted content into the CMS, and it just doesn’t look right? You’re probably carrying old formatting code into the new CMS. Common culprits are copying from a Word document, copying text from one browser and pasting it into another, or copying text that was formatted in-line (using <span> and <style> tags directly in the code instead of letting the preformatted stylesheets do the work.)

Adding content with this type of formatting is bad for a couple of reasons:

  • It doesn’t let your page update with the rest of the CMS. We may decide to change the font size or style to make the site more accessible or to keep up with modern design trends. By using the standard heading (<h1>, <h2>, etc) and paragraph (<p>) tags, your content will be ready to shift in an instant. If you leave hard-coded styles in the page, your look won’t automatically change.
  • It can look strange on different devices. Everything on our new template is designed to expand and contract with the user’s screen size. Hard-coded styles may not change in the right way between desktop and mobile.
  • It’s annoying for you, the CMS user. Sometimes you’ll have lines and lines of needless code – annoying when you’re trying to find one or two words in pages of <span>s and <color>s. For example, look at the coding on the links below—the <u> and <span> tags make for messy code on the back and and ugly links on the front end.

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Website and Content Backups

There has been some confusion over what our CMS does and does not back up as a part of its revision process, so the purpose of this blog post is to clarify things. This information is accurate for both Percussion Rhythmyx and OU Campus.

Content Backups

Enterprise Content Management Systems store pieces of content. You have a Generic Page which stores the meat of your webpage’s content. However, there is more. Think of a sidebars and sliders (Highlights). Images. And navigation—made up of Navons. There are also Files. Maybe some Script items or Personnel Information items. All told, any given webpage is made up of 50-100 total individual items.

Any CMS does a good job of keeping track of revisions for these items. Each revision is basically a backup of that individual piece of content. As long as an item is not deleted (purged), we will have a history for that item. If the item is deleted, then its revision history is also deleted.

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Best Practices: Search Engine Optimization and Usability

Do you have pages with a lot of text and wonder if that is OK? Are your pages user-friendly? Do you want to increase your search engine rankings? Here are some tips to make your website better for your users and increase your visibility in searches.

Content-Rich Page Examples

The What is Biomedical Engineering page shows good use of headings in a page that has a lot of content. The sections don’t drag on because the headings break up the content. They also make the content more scannable for both users and search engines. Using the images to break up the large amount of text rather than placing them at the top or side of the page is another way to make the page more user-friendly.
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Please Attribute Sources to Migrated Content in Blogs

Attention web liaisons: if you copy existing content into your department’s blog from a web page or another source, please ensure that you have given credit to the author(s) by adding a byline. This policy applies to content that is authored by any member of the campus community (except for Tech Today), including individuals within your department, not only content that originates outside of the University. Plagiarism charges may be filed if credit is not given where it is due.

Thank you.

– UMC Web Team

Note: This was originally posted on October 4th, 2012.