Best Practices

Fonts for Web Use

Proxima Nova, the new official san-serif font for UC Davis, is now available to sites managed in either Cascade CMS, with the Bridge Theme applied, or in SiteFarm, the new Drupal-based campus CMS now in production and available to both administrative and academic departments.

Campus sites not using either CMS, and hosted at a * address, can use Proxima Nova now with some small modifications to the site’s CSS. Please contact Craig Farris in Strategic Communications for information on how to do that.

When Proxima Nova is not available
If you use a commercial web app or email platform that does not support Proxima Nova, a good alternative is Verdana. Calibri is also good for email.

Are you considering a website redesign, or planning a new site?

Campus policy 310-70 mandates basic content, including the UC Davis logo, contact information and Regents copyright, be included on departmental and official websites. There are also technical requirements.

Beyond the basics, use these best practices to help guide your web and interactive design.

Know your audience

  • Find out what your audience needs and design your unit’s website to answer them.
  • Don’t assume your users know your unit’s internal structures and terminology.
  • Focus the user’s attention on what is important to them.
  • Tell users what is unique and important about your unit, but do so without getting in their way.

Consider website life cycles and sustainability

  • All websites should be responsive.
  • When possible, avoid creating new sites unless absolutely necessary.
  • Consider the expected life and maintenance, especially for mobile.

Make it accessible

Websites should:

  • meet WCAG 2.0 AA standards, at minimum.
  • pass the informal “alt-tab” test.
  • be tested to ensure a web browser’s zoom “text-only” doesn’t break the site

For more information about accessibility, please review the University of California Policy on Information Technology Accessibility and W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

Check your speed

  • Optimize imagery.
  • Be thoughtful of the performance cost of rich media (such as videos).
  • Pick one JavaScript library when possible.
  • Lazy-load downpage assets as much as possible.
  • If using a CMS such as WordPress or Drupal, use caching.
  • Minify code as much as possible.
  • Load CSS in the Head and JavaScript at the end of the HTML document.

Know your SEO: minimum requirements

  • Unique page title
  • Meta description
  • Open Graph (OG) for social media platforms
  • Twitter Cards

Crush your keywords

For the most effective use of keywords, include them in page title, meta description, and the first body paragraph. Try to keep keyword usage to 3-5 per element. Make sure there is no <p> element (paragraph) used before first body paragraph.

Follow the “Rule of 7” for navigation

Your audience shouldn’t have to figure out how to find what they’re looking for. Make it easy for them to succeed.

  • Keep main navigation items to 7 or less.
  • Keep drop-down menus to 7 items or less.
  • Establish a logical hierarchy of information with similar content clearly grouped for easy consumption.
  • All area of your site should be available and comprehensible from the main navigation.
  • DO NOT link to external websites from your main navigation.

Aim for clarity and consistency

Be consistent, clear and concise. This applies to every aspect of your site.

  • Your writing should be clear, free of jargon and no longer than it has to be. More detail can be made available “on demand,” if necessary.
  • Be consistent across your site in terminology, labels, layout and positioning, style and navigation.
  • All images should add to the user’s experience. Avoid visual clutter.

Use the wordmark correctly

The UC Davis wordmark should be wrapped in a link to the university home page.

Don't leave out contact information

Screenshot: Typical footer information
  • You can link “Questions or comments?” to your own contact form or person if desired.
  • “Sitemap” should link to the sitemap for the specific site on which the contact information is located.
  • The phone number should be replaced with the desired contact of the organization.
  • For more information, please refer to the website standards for contact information and copyright notice in UC Davis Policy 310 -70.

Redirects: leave no link behind

  • Make sure to put redirects in place, and a redirect to the home page should be used only as a last resort.
  • Reorganizing or merging content — make sure to redirect to proper URL.
  • Watch 404 logs to fix broken links or redirect where necessary.

Other quality control considerations

  • Make sure the site is compatible with all modern browsers as well as Internet Explorer support back to version 9.
  • Avoid duplicate content.
  • Validate your code.