Web Development Best Practices

Unless a specific exception is granted, all development of SLU.edu must occur within our content management system (CMS), OUCampus. 

When creating content for SLU.edu, your first priority should be the user. Most often, that is a prospective student, families and alumni.

Your site should be intuitive and easy to use, so people can quickly find what they need, even if they are unfamiliar with the University and its departmental structure.

Content
  • Always spell check content in all fields - body copy, headlines and titles. If possible, have someone else proofread your work.
  • Every word matters. Increasingly, people find content on the Internet through search engines. The words you use let them gauge how relevant SLU.edu is to their search. Once a person is on your page, they generally will only read a small portion. Use headlines, subheads, bullets, bolding and other formatting to help make your key points.
  • You should have a strategic goal for each page you create or maintain on the site. Common goals are enrollment and support.
  • Do not use "Last Updated" or "Under Construction" lines. Update your content as often as it requires and do not launch new content before it is ready.
  • General information about the University, such as the campus map and the mission statement, has already been developed. Rather than recreating or cutting and pasting the information into your web page, please simply link to the top-level content.
  • As with any content provided on behalf of the University, all SLU websites must comply with the following University and federal policies.

Organization and Navigation
  • Put yourself in a user's mindset. How would the material make the most sense? What structure would allow you to find what you're looking for quickly?
  • Before you develop or change your content, organize the information visually by outlining it on paper or using a flowchart program. Is the information available elsewhere on SLU.edu? What are the key tasks you want the user to accomplish. Finally, think about the key words a person would use to find that page.
Graphics and Photos
  • Photos, videos and graphics are communication tools, not merely decoration for the page. They should convey information and provide visual interest by breaking up text.
  • Please resize large images and files for use on the web. The size of a graphic refers to the amount of memory it requires. A graphic's size is determined not only by height and width but also by how color information is encoded, which is determined by the file format. Web graphics typically use two formats: GIF or JPG. Use GIFs for line art or images that have clear distinctions between lines and between colors.
  • Use JPGs for photos or other images that use gradations of color or values.
  • Use "Title" tags to give the graphic a brief description. 
Links
  • If you link to an external page, form, PDF or other document from SLU.edu, ensure it opens in a new browser window.
  • Include a link to SLU.edu in every e-mail you send and, if possible, on social media posts.

Resources

Saint Louis University offers several digital resources outside the CMS for faculty, staff and students, including SLU Global and ITS resources for research. If your digital content focuses on SLU-specific groups or committees, projects or business operations, we recommend you use  Google Sites. 

As part of the package of Google Apps available to the SLU community, Google Sites yields great-looking sites with minimal technical skill or effort. Google Sites is well documented, with user-friendly online help and tutorials. Google Sites also has some very advanced modules that can be easily added -- such as embedding calendars, spreadsheets and photo albums into pages -- with a little technical skill.

Sites made public (via the sharing options within Google Sites) can be accessed at sites.slu.edu/nameofsite.

For more information on how to get started, visit ITS' Google Sites support page.

Databases 

Faculty, staff and students may request a MySQL database for their work at the University, but not for personal use. SLU Information Technology Services handles requests for databases and provides support in ensuring you can access your database.