To Request Work
Please fill in the Academic Technology Services (ATS) Work Request Form (log in required) for new custom 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...
- 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.)
- Who is the final decision maker?
- Who is responsible for writing, gathering, and maintaining the website’s content?
Begin to prepare...
- Identify your main audience(s).
- List, in order of priority, your audiences needs. What are they looking for on the website?
- List, in order of priority, your goals for the website.
- 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.
- 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
- 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).
- Begin to gather any logos, imagery, and photography.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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