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Basic Standards for Websites that Must Not Be So Basic

Updated: Jul 12, 2018

I spend a lot of time online. A lot. I visit a lot of websites, publishing-related and otherwise. Part of it is due to my job as a publishing consultant, part is due to my varied interest, and part is due to my small bit of ADHD.

Many sites meet or exceed my expectations. Congrats! There are some people out there running some impressive, high-functioning sites.

Some are missing some small simple items that make me shake my head:

* Contact information. Every site should have a page that shows the site’s name and street address, as well as an email address. If a site doesn’t have a street address I doubt the business is real. If it has no email address I think they don’t want to hear from me. I know there are other reasons that large sites like Microsoft may not want to list an email address, but I think endless options for FAQs or communities for you to ask your question, simply cause frustration.

* Social media posting: I am of the mind that I should be able to Tweet or Post content from any page. I see sites listing their own social media account icons, but a fair number that don’t give the option to post to a variety of the reader’s social media accounts. If you want the pageviews, you need to make it easy to post.

* Social media auto fills: When I do post to social media, I expect the window to auto fill with the article title/page title and a simple URL. I can always edit it, but this is a start. A fair number add no title or have an unwieldy URL that already exceeds the character limit. Best would be to have a great graphic associated with the posting and it not simply be a logo or header from atop the page.

*Which social media accounts: I get it that Facebook was/is the big dog. But there is more to social media than this and Twitter. Add Google Plus for the Google indexing factor alone. Add LinkedIn. Try Pinterest or Instagram. Experiment. In the era of Facebook’s revelations, look other places as well. Have at least four channels a visitor can post to.

* URL simplification: For heaven’s sake, please keep the URLs simple and discernible. Let’s have one that can be typed in by a human and not a lengthy string of numbers and letters.

* About: Please have an About page that gives at least a one paragraph concrete version of what the website or group does. Concrete is key. If your description is centered about “envisioning” and “leading,” then a reader might finish the text and say, “but what do they do?”

* Video: Auto play? No. Never.

* Leadership: Under About or somewhere else, give the name(s) of the bosses, preferably with a picture. Maybe even an email address.

* Press release center: If you offer press releases (and I suggest you do), please add the social media option to each page. You are looking for press, right?

If you say this is basic stuff, or who isn’t doing this already, then you should be praised. Not everyone is though. And some offenders are some big companies.

I know for each point, there are some rare legitimate reasons why they may not be done. But those reasons are rare. Think through the UX or user experience. Let’s start with at least a base standard in publishing, education, and information sites.

Thanks for listening. Let me know your thoughts.


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