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AUT Web Guidelines

Our Mission

The pursuit of Excellence and Equity in Vocational and Community Education

Values

The Auckland University of Technology values:

Quality in the educational programmes provided and in the environment, both physical and professional, in which staff and students work.

Creativity, innovation, scholarship, research and excellence in teaching

People and their needs as individuals.

Equity.

Effectiveness, efficiency and accountability.

The Auckland University of Technology respects the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The AUT Web

Our Philosophy

AUT’s web pages are to be user-driven and all design will reflect this approach

Appropriate technology supports the above and must not be the driving rationale for a web presence

The Web is a medium that enables and encourages two-way communication

The Web is a powerful tool in our marketing arsenal

Our web site will be a dynamic entity and as such, all pages will be completely updated and relevant at all times

We Must

Give visitors an overview of what we are offering, and then let them progressively click down to the details of our courses and services.

Keep as much information visible as possible without cluttering the screen.

Attempt to create understandable, digestible, global navigation structures that trickle down to the local level

Create a distinctive visual style and apply it rigorously as this is the best way to weld a series of related and disjointed web pages together.

Our web house style creates its own identity & and boundaries. In navigational terms, our visitors need to know when they are within it and when they have left it. 

Our house style also communicates a qualitative statement about the university

Do’s & Don’ts

Camouflage Navigation.

Navigation is often far too conspicuous on a Web site. We want visitors to see what is on offer, not the navigation.  Navigational elements shouldn't take up half the screen and ideally should be hidden from the user's view.There should be a one-click return to AUT title page on all subsidiary pages.

Make what we have to offer look very good, but do it quickly.

Web page visiting is a transient method of sourcing entertainment and information, so our site needs to appeal to those with short attention spans. Our site users are looking for satisfaction very quickly. Unless authentication is required during a virtual visit to the AUT site, it should not take more than four to six clicks (not counting drilling down for details) from the front page to the ‘call to action’ confirmation.

At the same time, we need to give visitors a good look at what is on offer at AUT. Browsing our site should leave the impression of dealing with something of substance rather than a peripheral experience. Remember that research indicates that surfing is a virtual myth. Most consumers are going online with a specific purpose in mind, and only a very small percentage of users "always" spend their time using random sources.

We might opt for Macromedia Flash and Generator over HTML to produce robust images that load quickly.

Be mindful that a site exhibiting a lot of high-quality photos will mean keeping other graphics much lighter in the presentation

Italic fonts are best avoided. They compete with the constraints of a square pixel grid and usually look poor, especially so at small sizes

Each page needs to stress excellence and the success of AUT both to the individual and as a collective entity 

Keep it simple.

A Web site needs white space in the same way as good print design therefore we should avoid adding too much saturated colour to a page.

Effective naming and structure are also essential. The hierarchical tree must be structured in an intuitive way. Whenever our visitors click on a link, they should get what they're expecting. Go easy on the creativity when naming a link or a page.

Engage visitors by encouraging interactivity, don't over do it. Don’t offer too many options on one page. We need to balance the number of options with ease of use. Our expectation is that there be built in response options on each page and that we personalise the experience at every opportunity.

Chat technologies will be appropriate in some areas and less so in others

Don't skimp on the information.

Though it's important to keep things simple, we don't want to turn AUT’s online visitors away because they couldn't find the answers to their questions. Anticipate their every question to make sure our pages answer them clearly and specifically. Before you even start to think about the look and feel of a site, it is essential that we undertake market research and gather every piece of information that could be important to our users.

Remember that market surveys demonstrate that consumers primarily look to the Web for information.Education and learning rank second only to e-mail as the top online activity with newsgathering activities also ranking highly. The Web is quickly becoming the preferred source for quick information gathering and research.  All AUT pages should therefore capitalise on this trend by including current and topical news items that help attract and retain visitor interest

Having done this, we need to ensure that our site and its content ‘shines’ from the outset.  We will never publish partially completed, prototype or text -only versions of pages, in the belief that we can upgrade them at a later time - e.g. as money and circumstance allow.  Numerous relaunches are waste of time and money and partially completed projects don’t do justice to the University

Archive each important article, news items and document

Colour accuracy is important and so is testing

Colour fidelity is a crucial to our AUT brand and to any merchandising we may care to undertake. That said, colour-accuracy tools are marginal at best and it is essential to do lots of cross-browser and cross-system testing.  Many designers recommend that to be safe, it is best to stick with a web safe colour palette and test the prototype site on a variety of browsers and computers.

The Web Centre will maintain a central database of style sheets, stock images, logotypes, graphic specifications applicable to the web site and relevant to overall design strategy /- marketing

Protect & Promote AUT’s brand identity.

On the Web, as in other media, AUT’s brand is more than just logo and colour. Our Web site is our brand identity. The page layout, HTML links, amount of text on the screen, and number of steps in the navigation process all contribute to our identity. We must ensure that our core values are communicated to the customer.  No explicit text or imagery

Be very aware of the lowest common denominator.

To reach the maximum number of users makes an assumption that the bulk of our online audience will connecting with slow modem (28.8Kbps), and low resolution (800x600). This approach will enable sensible decisions to be made as to the amount of imagery and other material is placed on the page

Our aim is to build sites that work regardless of the user's configuration.

Creating a site that's attractive and easy to navigate requires compromise. Accept that we need to be ruthless in our decision to leave in what's essential and throw out the rest. A rule of thumb is try and build a site as small as possible and once it is ready to publish, be prepared to re edit it by as much as 75 percent.

The median weight (the average number of kilobytes of data on a web page) should be 60KB. Compare our pages to two of the web’s most widely used Yahoo.com (37 KB) and Lycos.com (30 KB).

Oversized web pages designed on large monitors become unreadable on smaller monitors. Even at the screen larger sizes, it is desirable from a 'readability' point of view, to limit the text line width to 8-10 words.

Remember long download times adversely affect website traffic

Pdf file downloads (Acrobat) can compliment the summarized material on a web page.  Such downloads are also page performance indicators and need to be recorded

Incorporate keyword & people finder search on all title pages

An essential evaluation tool prior to publication is to have users ‘bench test’ the site. If they leave in frustration then a problem remains. AUT has the facilities and personnel to undertake this testing procedure.

Adopt a holistic approach

AUT does not exist in a vacuum.  It is part of a broader community and culture.  Our pages should seek to reinforce this perspective, as this will assist prospective students and staff to reach a decision in our favour

All pages should include appropriate links to City, regional, national and international options

Links with commercial partners and sponsors need to be approved before inclusion so as to ensure they meet current marketing strategic requirements and don’t compete with other initiatives

Stress the international projection of the university through its programmes, affiliations and exchanges

Endorsement

The personality of staff and faculties will animate our site and are to be encouraged. The Web is a human medium and our content needs to reflect this.

The best endorsement of what we have to offer comes from students themselves and those that have forged successful careers as a result of their time at AUT.  Our pages must include such endorsements, with careful and correct attribution.

Be sure to acknowledge corporate or private benefaction and industry collaboration

Research Showcase

Our web pages should highlight the uniqueness and international leadership exemplified through AUT’s research projects

This promotion must be conveyed in a manner that summarises the key aspects of the research and endorses the credibility of the personnel involved

Wherever possible, web visitors should be encouraged to express their personal interest in such projects and there needs to be an appropriate response, within a reasonable period of time

Flag any new companies or products being spun out as a result of AUT research

Capture the reader and gain free Web publicity with headlines

Remember that the words you include in your headline might decide who gets to read the article, if anyone.

News collection agencies and their robots on the Web often collect the information on their sites based on the articles’ headlines. So to ensure AUT’s content is registered with these news feeds, we need to find out what keywords they rely on, and place these words in the headlines of our articles.

The first few lines of any online news release are also important. Make sure that key words are in your title if you want to catch reader’s interest in your area.

Be sure you are able to deliver what you promise and avoid high-impact headlines that fail to live up to their promise. The content in the article should match the message that your title conveys.

Search functionality

A common fault of many websites is that they provide poor search capabilities and place critical content in the wrong locations

Our most important data should be at the top of the page not the bottom

We should provide key word search on all title pages

Contact: Roger Smith        Telephone: (64) (9) 917 9650                                                         Manager – Web Centre      ITS Directorate    AUT     roger.smith@aut.ac.nz