This checklist is for Columbia Law School editors to use while creating and editing content on their website to improve the look of the page as well as user experience.
It is based on the document that Web Communications uses when completing the Quality Assurance (QA) step of website projects. Please note that these are not just best practices, but requirements based on our guidelines.
When in the content entry step of your webpage creation, we recommend that you check each of the below items for each page. If your site is in the process of a redesign with Web Communications, any content formatted outside of the below requirements will be noted on the QA and you will need to change them before site launch.
Content should be formatted using the available templates – tables are not to be used for layout or for anything other than tabular data.
All junk markup imported from elsewhere (Microsoft Word, email programs, styles and classes, etc.) must be removed. This can be avoided by never copying and pasting directly from Word or another web page as it brings in background markup into the editor. Use the Paste from Word or Paste as Plain Text icons at the top of the editing box.
Do not use text formatting (bold, italic, underline, etc.) on headings, links, and other elements managed by the style sheet (with the exception of titles within the text, you may italicize only the title text.)
All styles must be consistent. Paragraph text should use normal. Article Text style is reserved for articles.
Headings can be added to text by clicking anywhere in the line or paragraph and choosing the heading style from the left drop-down menu on the top of the editing box. All text within that paragraph will change. Use the following guidelines when working with headings.
Headings must be used hierarchically, in sequence.
Heading 1 is for the home page title only.
Heading 2 is for all other page titles.
Link styles can be edited by clicking anywhere in your link text and choosing External Link or Button Link from the right dropdown menu on the top of the editing box. Specifying where the link will open can be edited by clicking anywhere in your link text and selecting the link tool at the top of the editing box and selecting target. Consider these guidelines when using links.
Federal regulations for accessibility requires that we avoid using text such as “click here,” “more,” or similarly vague language, or writing out the full link address. You must use descriptive text about the link destination. The text is read aloud when someone is using a screen reader to access your site. It also helps Google and other search engines understand and index the linked page.
Link styles should be used only where appropriate (RSVPs, external, more, etc.).
The link style, External Link, should only be used on links that either appear at the end of a paragraph or as a stand-alone link.
The link style, Button Link, is generally used for applications or sign-up forms.
Links pointing outside the law.columbia.edu domain should use the target="_blank" style and open a new tab or window. This can be found when clicking on the Link icon, click on the Target menu, and selecting New Window (_blank).
Email addresses look cleaner if linked on descriptive text (like the name of a person or department) instead of being written out.
Links to documents (e.g., PDFs, Microsoft Word documents, etc.) or links outisde of your site should open in a new window.
Links should also direct to a page that is public or viewable to a specific user role, e.g., Admitted Student (J.D.) Student. If a page is only viewable to a specific user role, the link on a public page should include language informing the user that they will be taken to a login page. View the example below for the proper treatment of links to a non-public page:
The size of your page can effect the ability to access it on a mobile device. Large pages require more data to download and can take longer to load. An average small web page is approximately 12 KB, and that will load very quickly. The more media on a page, the bigger the page size and the slower it will load. Embedded videos, images, audio, graphics, flash, and other forms of media will increase your page size. To check the size of your page visit: http://smallseotools.com/website-page-size-checker
Empty pages are not permitted and they will become inactive.
Empty elements will be deleted.
Excessive white space should be removed.
Pages with little to no content that include a phrase, such as “under construction,” should not be made public. If such a page is public, the content will be reverted back to a private page viewable by only the editing group until the content is fleshed out and ready for public viewing.
In the left column navigation, 10 Top Level links of navigation are permitted with 10 child pages per level.
Images must be of professional quality.
Images must be their actual sizes rather than artificially resized on the page. It should also be no wider than 700 pixels (or 300 pixels if wrapped next to text).
Images of professors or students must be cleared for use.
If images are protected by copyright, permission must be obtained for their use and proper citation should be used.
Images need meaningful alternative (alt) text describing what is pictured. (This is what shows up when the image doesn't load and for people using screen readers. Images should be identifiable by their alt text.)
File size of image should be under 70 kilobytes (KB).
Banner images should be a single image. If you want to use multiple images, you must obtain permission from Web Communications.
All pages must contain summary text.
Summary text should be 120 to 150 characters and read like summaries of the page content or calls to action (e.g., Studying law at Columbia Law School gives you access to an exceptional community that provides students with an education long renowned for its intellectual rigor and high standards.)
All pages must be permissioned in Access Control checking the boxes under read, edit, and delete for your editing group.
When a page is ready to be publicy viewable, the access controls must be permissioned for Anonymous User and Authenticated User under the Read section only.