Our new web standards

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Turning content ‘lost property’ into ‘found property'

We’ve all done it at some point: left an item of clothing, a bag or even a mobile phone on the bus, the train, on the back seat of a taxi cab or on some other means of transport.

The headache lies in getting it back, especially if you’ve reported a missing navy woollen hat and there are several that look just like it and have gone missing, too. However, your chances of finding your lost hat increases enormously if it had some distinctive characteristic and you could describe it.

The same is true of web content. You’re more likely to find what you want from the vast world wide online storehouse of content material if it is original, relevant, up to date, obvious, high quality, descriptive and simply stands out from all the rest. That’s where our new web standards play a crucial part.

One of our standards, for example, focuses on how to write web content for an online audience in plain English. It also covers how to arrange information on a web page to make it easy to find. Another concentrates on what makes for a good photographic image on the web and also how to choose appropriate video.

The goals of a good website are:

  1. to help more users find your site easily
  2. to help users find and use the content within your site, and
  3. encourage return visits (that produce real outcomes, eventually, such as students choosing the University of Bath as their preferred place of study).

Our new web standards are, therefore, are an important resource for achieving these goals.

The lost property office of Transport for London (TfL) offer essential advice for searching and locating your item from the 184,000 other items left behind each year by people on public transport:

"When reporting lost property, please provide a detailed description. Due to the high volume of enquiries, please include any unique characteristics rather than giving a generic description such as 'set of keys' as this will ensure your enquiry has the greatest chance of success."

That is why we want our web pages to use non-generic headings and sub-headings to describe the web page and its written content meaningfully. This means that instead of using ‘Introduction’ or ‘What’s next’, the first heading says, ‘How to apply'. This is far more helpful for navigating to, or finding from a search engine, when choosing a course.

Using trained web editors to apply these web standards routinely and consistently will improve the quality of content and keep it distinctive. It has the potential to help make our website stand out for our visitors by turning ‘lost’ content property into ‘found’ content property.

Posted in: Archive