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Guidelines


Anyone who would like to set up a new website at UCL, is invited to a meeting (after completing a new website request form) to discuss the requirements.  In this meeting we will go over the different features available, and which of these would be most suitable to your needs.

Depending on your needs, we'll discuss a likely time-frame within which the site could be up and running, so it would be good to have an idea of when you would like the site to be live.

Before the meeting we would like you to have a look at the following questions:

Purpose(s) of website

Make sure you know why you are creating the website by answering the following questions:

  • What are the objectives of the site?
  • What are the values and atmosphere you are trying to convey?
  • What is the scope of the website?

Users of the website

  • Identify the main users for the site. It can be useful to build up personas for the main users as this helps to put you in the mind-set of the users and identify their main journeys across the site. Web & Mobile Services have created some personas - please use these.
  • Personas (pdfs)
  • If possible, carry out some user research through surveys, focus groups, interviews etc. Through this you can find out what people like and dislike about the site, and what they would like to see in the future. Even if you can only manage one meeting with a range of people this can be very useful.  It can also help you to set priorities if you can’t develop everything at once because of time/budget constraints.
  • Usability should always at the heart of any website development. It is a measure of the quality of the experience for the users and there are many guidelines that have been developed over years of worldwide usability testing.  To help you UCL Communications & Marketing have put together some guidelines [put in URL when known]
  • If you are redesigning a website and usage statistics are available, these can be used to find out about user behaviour and help with designing the revised site. When developing a new website Google Analytics should be enabled.

Content

Getting the content right is as important as getting the design right. Content should be written specifically for use on the web, taking into account the scanning behaviour of users, and having the needs of the users in mind.

Carrying out a content audit can be a good starting point as this will enable you to identify which content should stay, which should go, which should be rewritten and what new content is required.  You need also to think about the types of content required which might include images, video etc. The time needed to create good content should not be underestimated. Start this process at the beginning of the project.

For each new or revised web page consider:

  • Who is the page aimed at?
  • What is the user trying to achieve on this page?
  • What is the call to action for this page?
  • Is this part of a user-journey? If so, is the way to the page and from the page logical?
  • What is the title of this page? descriptive titles are important for search engine optimisation!
  • What elements (including images and features) must appear on this page?

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Site structure

The structure of your website should be logical to your users and should reflect the way in which they will move around the site. Users want to seek information quickly and efficiently. If they cannot find what they are looking for, they are unlikely to return to your website. Therefore it is worth dedicating plenty of time to designing the information structure of your website. One way to do this is:

  1. Start by writing every the name of every piece of content on an individual post-it note or card. So you might have individual notes or cards with: fees; application form; degrees; staff; undergraduates; postgraduates; PhD; Masters; entry requirements, etc.
  2. You then move the notes around and group them logically. So, for example, you might group together 'entry requirements',  'fees', 'PhD' and 'Masters' under a heading of 'Postgraduate degrees'.
  3. Once you have all the groups you can then create a hierarchy and map it on paper or using the Organisational chart tool in PowerPoint. You will then have something like the example below:
Site Hierarchy Example



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Design

Websites that are part of ucl.ac.uk must use the UCL visual identity.  This projects UCL’s vision, values and excellence, and gives all communications a consistent, strong and modern look.  A corporate identity template is used in our content management system but there is still a lot of room for creativity and diversity in layout design to suit your needs, as you will see in our gallery
For more details on how the template works visit the template demo.

It is also vital to take into account the range of platforms and browsers of the users, including those who are disabled, so accessibility considerations should be central to design and development.

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Development

Having agreed the design, the site structure and any additional features of the site, development then needs to take place. As with content creation, this is an area where the time needed should not be underestimated.

Testing

Plenty of time for testing and tweaking the design and functionality should be built into the project planning. In addition, usability testing should be included as the users will be the strongest critics of the site and those most able to help you get it right.

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Managing the website

Training and support - the website will be developed using our content management system (Silva) so the need for training should be considered. The creation of documentation for any new features is also advised so that they can be supported in the future.

Project management – to ensure that the project goes smoothly you will need to identify who will manage the project and who will be involved in decision-making and content management. A detailed project plan is vital to ensure a successful outcome. It can be very helpful to have a small web steering group to obtain feedback and help with decision-making during the project. Indeed, this can also be helpful in the longer term to ensure that the website is not only being kept up-to-date but is being developed to cater for new requirements as they arise.

Long-term management – you will also need to identify who will maintain the website as this could have an impact on the size and complexity of the new website. It must be possible to maintain the website with the staff available; an out-of-date website will give a very poor impression of your department/research project.

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