Web Content Standards

Requests for exemption from any electronic communication policy or standard, except those prescribed by law, may be made by contacting the director of electronic communication in the Office of Marketing and Strategic Communications.

General standards

  • Page titles are written in title case (capitalize all key words).
  • All other headings are written in news case (capitalize only the first word and proper nouns), including column and row headings in tables.
  • All text and headings should conform to WMU writing style, including but not limited to: dates, times, places, abbreviations, capitalization, and formatting for email addresses, postal addresses and phone numbers. Do not use ampersands, all caps, italic or underlined text. Use bold text sparingly.
  • When referring to Western Michigan University in the page text, use the University's full name on first reference. Abbreviations may be used thereafter. "WMU" is the preferred abbreviation, as it is the most specific to Western Michigan University and also the shortest and most versatile. Other acceptable abbreviations are "the University," "Western," and "Western Michigan." Do not use the nickname Bronco(s) as a general reference to the University in contexts such as Bronco course offerings or Bronco commencement, and do not refer to WMU as "the brown and gold."
  • Similarly, when referring to your unit or department in the page text, use the full name on first reference. Abbreviations may be used thereafter. Do not use initials and abbreviations for WMU units, unless the initials are widely used by the general public. As examples, on second reference, you may use IT to refer to information technology, HR to refer to human resources, and rec center to refer to the recreation center. Do not use CEAS to refer to the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences or CAS to refer to the College of Arts and Sciences. Instead, use the college, engineering college, engineering and applied sciences, or arts and sciences.
  • Limit use of tables, as they are problematic on smartphones and other small displays. Try presenting the information as text, bullet lists or numbered lists. Use tables only when there is no other practical way to present the information.

Addresses (URLs)

The purpose of these standards is to provide web developers with a common set of rules to follow for web address naming. These rules are applied equitably across all areas of the University. Consistency in the use of naming conventions for web addresses is both a matter of best practice and improving ease of navigation. Adoption and strict use of University file-naming conventions is essential.

  1. The following standards for web addresses will improve promotion of web pages. The relative ease of giving out the full web address over the telephone or including it in an email message is facilitated by using short names that follow consistent naming conventions.
    1. To the greatest extent possible, all primary web addresses—those for offices, colleges, departments and campus services, will be composed of a single, relevant, easy to spell, easy to remember, easy to market, English language word. Examples: wmich.edu/music, wmich.edu/admissions
      • Existing web addresses will be honored to the greatest extent practical.
      • The Office of Marketing and Strategic Communications will determine assignment of web addresses for common words, which might apply to a variety of units within the University. For example, words such as academics, art, business, conferences, education, engineering, faculty, health, language, leadership, learning, news, research, resources, students and others, which might apply to a variety of units, will be assigned based on institutional priorities.
    2. In those cases in which a single word is not practical or has already been assigned, multiple words may be used. Hyphenation should be avoided unless absence of hyphenation produces an undesirable combination. Example: /facultysenate/ is preferable to /faculty-senate/.
    3. Acronyms and abbreviations should be avoided to the greatest extent practical. Exceptions will be made in those cases where the initials are commonly known to the general public. Examples: /it for information technology, /ot for occupational therapy
    4. Names describing common functions have been identified and established as Universitywide standards (e.g., /contact leads to a standard page containing relevant contact information. Contact information for the University resides at wmich.edu/contact, and for the Department of Dance at wmich.edu/dance/contact).
  2. The following standards for file names are consistent with best practices. They are recommended to facilitate usability and marketing.
    1. Do not use blank spaces, underscores, or special characters in file names.
    2. Use lowercase for all web addresses. It is far less confusing when giving web addresses over the phone if they are all lowercase rather than mixed case addresses. Use only lowercase letters, numbers and hyphens.
  3. Generally speaking, you will want to enter a custom URL for every page in the site, except the home page—even if the system-generated URL is the same as what you would assign in the Custom URL field. This is to protect you in the event that the page title is changed. If, at any point in the future, the page title is changed, and you haven't assigned a custom URL, your URL will automatically change to reflect the new page title, and you'll be left with 404s throughout your section.

Page titles

Best practice is for every page in a website—which means every web page at WMU—to have a unique title.

Why are page titles important?

  1. Google and other search engines place a lot of weight on title tags when ranking search results.
  2. A search engine results page, also known as SERP, uses the page title as the link to the page.
  3. By default, the title tag is what appears in the user's bookmarks or favorites when they bookmark a page. If your title tag is "Programs," the bookmark will be "Programs."

WMU standards for page titles

The following standards are based on best practices.

    1. Capitalize all key words in the title. Do not use abbreviations or acronyms (except WMU) in page titles. Do not use ampersands. Do not use all caps.
    2. Omit Center for, Department of, Division of, Office of, Office of the Vice President for, etc., from title tags. The only exceptions are College of, School of, and units named for people, and in those cases, use only the person's last name.

Use: College of Arts and Sciences
Not: Arts and Sciences

Use: Frostic School of Art
Not: Gwen Frostic School of Art

Use: English
Not: Department of English
Not: English Department

Use: Research
Not: Office of the Vice President for Research
Not: Research Office

Image preparation

For the web, image size is expressed in pixels, not inches. Web images are typically saved at 72 dpi, but dots-per-inch is relevant only for print, not the web. Increasing or decreasing the dots-per-inch of a 225 by 150 pixel image will not change the file size or resolution.

Zoom in! When selecting and preparing photographic images and especially when creating logos, buttons and other graphic designs, be mindful of how the image will look on a smartphone or other small display. Tightly cropped images are more compelling and bring energy to the page. A tightly cropped image of two students cheering at a football game has energy and personality and tells a story—a crowd shot is just a photo of a bunch of people.

Alternate text <alt="Description of image."> is required for all images for blind and low-vision readers. Alt tags should describe the image, such as, "WMU student at Bronco Bash." They should not be used as a caption, "Bronco Bash is Sept. 7 in Fountain Plaza." The alt tag should include any text in image art. The presence of a photo caption does not eliminate the requirement of alternate text.

Images may be saved in the following file types: jpeg or jpg (preferred for photographic images); gif (commonly used for image art); png (preferred over gif for image art). In Photoshop, use "Save for Web and Devices," especially for larger jpeg files.

Image sizes

Standard sizes are recommended:

  1. To promote a consistent appearance, just as in print publications.
  2. To promote ease of changing images without altering page layout.
  3. To facilitate automatic resizing of images in the WMU Content Management System.

Images should be uploaded at the highest resolution available, up to 3840 by 2160 pixels maximum. The CMS will render the image at the resolution needed.

Collage of standard size images

Standard image sizes and aspect ratios

All of recommended sizes are standard aspect ratios for still photography and video. If you work to these sizes, images from a variety of sources will work in your layout.

Standard images sizes
NameRatioNominalCMS range
Large3:2225 by 150225 by 150 to 1620 by 1080
Medium2:3150 by 225150 by 225 to 720 by 1080
Small1:190 by 9090 by 90 to 300 by 300
Slides16:9640 by 480640 by 480 to 3840 by 2160
Spotlight3:2135 by 90135 by 90 to 1620 by 1080

Nonstandard image sizes

Anytime the image cannot be cropped to 3:2, 2:3 or 1:1, you may use a nonstandard size. Common examples:

  • Image of a book or magazine cover
  • Some logos
  • Poster art