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Getting Started

To Request Work

Please fill in the Work Request Form (log in to SN@P required) for new work or enhancements to an existing website.

If your project takes more than 2 weeks, WDS may ask you to use the official method for requesting custom websites through the Office of Information Technology's Interdepartmental Project Portfolio (IPP). The planning process takes place between January and February each year. For projects that are requested outside of that time frame, WDS cannot guarantee that we can accommodate your project into our project slate.


To Request a Free Website

Department, program, or center websites should be built in the Drupal Template System.

ODUS recognized student group, department blog, department event, campus initiative websites should be built in WordPress.

Faculty, staff, researcher, and lab websites should be built in OpenScholar

Not sure which option is right for you? Email us.


Before You Start...

Decide on...

  1. Who will manage the project for the department? (WDS will manage the overall project, but we’ll need someone to coordinate the work on your end.)
  2. Who is the final decision maker?
  3. Who is responsible for writing, gathering, and maintaining the website’s content?

Begin to prepare...

  1. Identify your main audience(s).
  2. List, in order of priority, your audiences needs. What are they looking for on the website?
  3. List, in order of priority, your goals for the website.
  4. Make a list of what you like and don’t like about your current website. Look at other websites and make a list of what you like about them.
  5. Inventory the information on your current website. Click on all the links – go through the entire website. Decide what information needs to stay, go, or be rewritten/reorganized. See the Content Inventory section below
  6. Begin to think about your main menu items and how you’ll group or categorize your information in a way that is logical to your audience (not only yourself).
  7. Begin to gather any logos, imagery, and photography.

Content Planning

Content is an essential element of your website. Investing the time to think critically about the content will improve the user experience of your website.

Content Inventory

When redesigning a website it is a good idea to get a handle on how much content that you currently have. A content inventory is the first step. There are a few methods to go about doing an inventory. Each have their own pros and cons.

Manual Check

Using a spreadsheet, click on and log each page of your website. This can be time consuming but it gives you the opportunity to make notes about each page. You may start with this Excel template.

Page Count Using Google

Using a Google search you can get an approximate idea of how many pages and pieces of content that your site has. It is not 100% accurate because it may calculate items that you don’t consider to be pages of content.

To do a Google search, enter your website's URL into the Google search box using this format site:www.princeton.edu/wds  and then look at the number of results.

Sitemap Generator

There are some online tools that will automatically generate a site map for you such as XML-Sitemaps. Sometimes they are quick but the output may require some further interpretation and or refinement. If you have any favorite site map tools, we'd love to hear about them!
 


Writing for the Web

Much research has been done on writing for the web. Here is a brief summary of the top things you need to consider:

  • People often want the "nuts and bolts" information, not poetry. You should write like a journalist, not an academic. Be brief! Consider using the inverted pyramid style of writing.
  • People do not read websites. They scan for information and ignore non-critical elements and distractions. You should use headings to breakup sections of content and use the heading styles (not just the bold style) to make them standout on the page.
  • Place content where people expect it. This means you should not be "cute" or "fancy". Place content in standard places used by most other websites.
  • Make your content easy to find. Use labels that have meaning to your audience and do not bury content under obscure headings or menus.
  • Create content that is accessible to those with disabilities. This is especially important if your site contains videos or content in files, such as PDFs and Word documents. See WebAIM.org for more information.
  • Avoid the use of "click here" when creating links. Instead use 2-3 meaningful words when you create links within your text. 

Additional Resources

  • Nielsen Norman Group - Writing for the Web Articles
  • Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, by Steve Krug ISBN-13: 978-0321344755
  • Letting Go of the Words, Second Edition: Writing Web Content that Works (Interactive Technologies), by Janice (Ginny) Redish ISBN-13: 978-0123859303

Requirements

When building a website, follow the University's Website Requirements and Recommendations. You should take care to follow best practices for usability as well as have a plan for making sure your website's code and content is up-to-date. It is also strongly suggested that you build a website that can be viewed on multiple devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone). Before launching a website, you should contact the OIT Help Desk at least 10 business days in advance of your planned launch date so that URLs and domain names can be coordinated (if needed).


 

Policies

Please follow all applicable University IT Policies.

Getting Started

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Please Contact Us so we can guide you to the correct website platform.

Portfolio

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Browse the Portfolio to see examples of our custom websites.