Guidelines for Posting New Content
The first step, before any programming begins, is to determine what the agency needs and wants the web site to do. Beautiful sites can be created with flashing icons, dynamic colors, and interesting text. However, if the content does not meet the needs of the agency, the value is, at best, limited.
Everyone has visited a web site where navigation is impossibly difficult, where one has to spend a great deal of time "clicking" around the site, or where links to other sites do not work. Without guidelines and a quality control process, problems like these are inevitable.
The agency should develop a clear process for deciding what and how new materials are posted to the web site, including whether an approval procedure is needed for new sites and pages. The procedure may be as simple as a request for space on the agency's server, or it may be a more complex approval process involving a committee review.
It is important for the agency to distribute the guidelines for posting new content and to make sure that staff are aware of the process. Posting the procedures and content guidelines on the web site for easy access can accomplish this task. Additionally, it is imperative that the staff understand the procedures and guidelines.
Local coordinators and students may develop some of the most innovative school web sites in-house. While the agency will want to support such innovation, guidelines need to be followed in all areas of site development. As the district is ultimately responsible for the content on school web sites, it may be in the district's best interest to have a representative (e.g., a school site coordinator or webmaster) at each school who understands and is able to support district guidelines and regulations.
Where the district is unable to assign a site coordinator or webmaster, every effort has to be made to ensure that there is a person familiar with district guidelines and other regulations at each location where content may be posted.
What Should the Content on a Web Site Look Like?
The web site design should present a consistent look and feel for a sense of continuity across a site's pages. One way to accomplish this is with the use of style sheets that are embedded or linked to the site within the programming design. Style sheets, or templates, define the format for each page in terms of such elements as typeface, margin width, heading specs, spacing, and layout.
This does not mean that all pages need to look the same. Not all web pages on a site will use style sheets. The purpose of style sheets and other formatting tools or guides is to create consistency, not stifle creativity. However, each style sheet should contain:
button that returns the user to the agency's home page with one click of the mouse;
the name, address, and telephone number of the agency;
the agency's webmaster's e-mail address;
copyright notification; and
a privacy statement.