Just like our printed communications, the information we post online should be quickly accessible and visually consistent with the Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) brand. The more intuitive and simple the organization, the more likely the user will interact with and return to the site. Websites should be able to stand alone and give visitors a sense of the brand with every click. They also have the ability to link the many different departments together to show the extensive reach OTC has in the state, nation and world. From type to photography to tone, all the design elements can be used here to help advance the brand through this very powerful medium.

The OTC web design was built with all devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile) in mind and is responsive to each one. All websites are managed with OTC’s content management system referred to as OTCPress.

Official College Web pages should meet basic accessibility standards and provide information in an alternative format as needed. Documents designed to be downloaded should be provided in both a text-only format and portable document format (PDF) when possible. A text-only transcript should be provided if an online slide show or presentation contains academic or instructional text and visual elements. Multimedia presentations that convey only “emotional” appeal may not require alternative descriptions.

Employing a fixed but flexible format guarantees greater control over the page design and ensures the consistent look of the page displayed on common Web browsers and platforms. Therefore, the fixed page width for the official College site on a desktop display will not exceed 1280 pixels. It will respond to other devices from that size down to 300 pixels for mobile phones.

The OTC websites will provide visitors with a consistent navigation system on every page. Navigation includes a graphic element containing links and the official OTC wordmark at the top of the page, and a text version of the site navigation containing copyright and Web policy at the bottom of each page.

Content managers should only use styles which are default on all websites. If a content manager wishes to change the font to emphasize a section, only Web-friendly type fonts should be used. For example, Arial and Georgia typefaces were specifically designed to be used on computer screens while often used Times New Roman was originally designed for print publications. Other popular Web-friendly type styles include Verdana and Trebuchet. By sticking with the standard fonts within OTCPress, visitors to the website will get a consistent picture of the college.

Black or other color backgrounds can hinder type legibility and present an accessibility obstacle for those with vision difficulties. The optimum background color for a page is white (#FFFFFF). The use of background textures by designers will often reduce page load speed, and often conflict with the visual appeal of the site.

The existing OTC Style Guide requires that only the approved OTC wordmark and logos be used on the Website. The approved OTC logo should always have a neutral area of no less than the measurable width of the interior arch in all directions. For effective legibility, the approved OTC logo should only be used against a white background on the Web. The insertion of other logos on Web pages should be consistent with the existing Design Standards.

The GIF format is most often used for graphic illustrations, logos and clip art containing many areas of flat color. It utilizes an 8 Bit platform providing up to 256 colors. GIF images offer transparency and interlacing for a gradual visual load.

The JPEG format is most often used for photographs and utilizes a 24 Bit platform offering millions of colors. Both GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) and JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) are supported by major browsers.

The official color of OTC College is blue (PMS 295). The Web equivalent is Hex values (#004299). The website uses a variation of this color with the Hex values of (#154ae1)

  • Normal text – #000000 (black)
  • Background – #FFFFFF (white)
  • Link – #154ae1
  • Alink – #666666
  • Vlink – #999999

All photographs before being placed on any website should be approved by the Office of Web Services or without approval as provided by the College’s official photographer. Each photo should be optimized for the Web at 72 dpi with appropriate cropping and resizing.

An executed OTC College Media Release form should accompany photographs that contain identifiable individuals and are destined for official College Web pages.

The Web requires a different set of writing standards. All Web content should be optimized. Visitors should find content with the most important information in the lead paragraph. Much like the guidelines for a reporter, the information pyramid should be applied to all Web writing.

Because Web visitors don’t read long galleys of text, they will often resort to printing a deep Web page instead of online reading. If you are planning on a page with long text sections, you might consider an alternative approach.

Utilizing the Web convention of “chunking” can provide page developers with an effective tool. Content optimization or “chunking” will often result in long text being converted to bulleted lists. If the visitor is interested in greater detail, the designer can provide an alternative resource.

Detailed, extensive content can be offered to the visitor in both a text-only format or as a PDF. Unfortunately, developers who offer only a PDF may disenfranchise those with accessibility issues because some versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader cannot be used by assisted technology screen readers.

Another effective tool for presenting extensive content is the use of numerical, hierarchical or alphabetical lists. When in doubt, consider a bulleted list instead of a long paragraph. Try to limit Web sentences to no more than 25 words. When writing or assembling Web content, write only half of what you would normally write for the printed medium (example below).

Effective content tools:

Convert important data to bulleted lists.

  • Limit sentences to no more than 25 words.
  • Consider PDF and Text or MS Word downloads for long documents.

You should prepare Web text in a word processing program that provides the author with a spell-checking feature. The auto-hyphenation feature should be turned off and items like bullets should not be employed because they will not easily transfer to HTML format.

The Content Provider policy provides a structure for the updating of sections of the Web. Each constituent provider should review the content in their current Web section and work with the designated group chairperson and OTC Web team in an effort to keep the site current and accurate.

To better serve the needs of visitors and to ensure that we provide accurate and up-to-date information, content providers should avoid duplicating the following college materials in individual department Web sections:

  • Program descriptions. ( see www.otc.edu/programs )
  • Course descriptions. ( see www.otc.edu/catalog )

Like our College, our users are diverse. Site content needs to be accessible and useful to all of those users. OTC is committed to delivering accessible Web sites, and requires that sites comply with requirements outlined in section 508 of the United States government’s Rehabilitation Act.

Web usability standards are achieved if everything works as planned. The visitor should be able to understand the purpose of the site and navigate throughout the site without getting lost. The pages should load quickly and not require extensive scrolling. Employed technologies should be readily available to the visitor. All of this should take place in a matter of seconds in a Web world where the visitor is in control.

The OTC website has been developed in accordance with Web conventions for accessibility. The following are accessibility standards for the public Website.

The following represent basic accessibility and usability standards:

The Office of Web Services provides ongoing support for the development of official College Websites. Members of the OTC community skilled in Web design are always encouraged to work with the Web Team in blending their creative ideas into the existing format.

  • Always use ALT tags to describe the content of graphics or photographs.
  • When linking a graphic, provide a caption under the image that also serves as a text link.
  • Provide a Text or Microsoft Word transcript of slide shows that contain academic or instructional text and visual elements.
  • Provide captioning or include a Text or Microsoft Word transcript for Videos that contain academic or instructional audio elements.
  • Provide the visitor with an approximate download time, file size and file type for large multimedia files when they will require download times in minutes verse seconds.
  • Design Web pages that load quickly and generally don’t exceed 200 kilobytes in size.
  • Optimize all photographs and images.
  • Enter the height and width attributes of all images.
  • Avoid GIF animations. Consider JavaScript sliders as an alternative.
  • Provide alternative mechanisms for online forms like an available telephone number, e-mail address or a word processing document version of the form for download.
  • Limit the amount of fields for online forms to 12.
  • Do not use Blink or Marquee.
  • Make sure that content in tables work sequentially in support of accessibility.
  • Try to avoid the Blockquote. This tag hinders screen readers and Braille devices.
  • Make sure that the Web page can be accessed in most common browsers and platforms through testing.
  • Do not use frames.
  • For graphs and charts, provide a summary within the Web page or provide a text link to another Web page that contains the summary.
  • Hypertext links should be descriptive of their destination. Avoid “click here.”
  • Provide timely and accurate content remembering to carefully edit and “chunk” information into short, readable paragraphs and bulleted lists.
  • Abide by existing College policies including the Responsible Use of Electronic Communications.

Major search engines use keywords to find your Web page. Their organic search will determine your ranking or position in a search result. The keywords in your page content must match those words appearing in the hidden page script. Keywords should be limited to no more than 8 words that are specific to the product or service offered or described in the site. The selection of general keywords will lessen the effectiveness of SEO.

Search engine marketing (SEM) uses the same keywords to deliver qualified visitors to tiny online advertisements that appear on the right rail of most search engine pages. The SEM program requires Web marketers to select keywords and geographic locations for advertisement placement. Once selected, the marketer must bid on the keywords to determine if the return on investment (ROI) for the keyword string matches the allocated marketing funds. SEM works when the keyword string is very specific.

An institution of higher learning has endless video opportunities. Events, guest lectures, concerts and interviews make up the fabric of Web video content.

Before campus constituents begin the process of producing a video destined for a College Website, they should contact the College Director of Communications, to make sure that the project does not replicate other planned work, is consistent with the mission of the institution and will support the College’s Web Design and Video Standards.

Online streaming video has become commonplace on the Web as part of the explosion of social media. Online resources like YouTube and Vimeo that allow the user to simply upload a video, edit online and post live have contributed to the growth. Most of these videos can be embedded into standard Web pages.

While we encourage the use of video on the College’s Websites, but require producers to follow a visual, branding protocol that identifies them as products of OTC (see below). No matter how wonderful the video and sound, it is the content that matters to the viewer. With that in mind, those producing video must follow the College’s content protocols (see below).

Video of Non-OTC Individuals
Video recording of non-OTC individuals will require an executed Media Release form by those appearing in the video if it is to be used by the College.

High-Definition
All video should be shot in high definition (1280 x 720) to meet evolving Web convention. Audio is an important component of a video and clear, crisp audio is essential (AAC codec).

Time Limits
Effective Web videos should be limited to no more than three (3) minutes in length. Please consider editing the video content into several smaller segments to avoid videos longer than three minutes.

Visual, Branding and Content Protocols

  1. The College logo must appear in the first frame.
  2. The HD logo currently being used must appear in the next frame.
  3. The title of the video or identification of who is appearing in the video must appear in the next frame.
  4. All individuals being interviewed must be identified (a narrow name bar at the bottom of their first frame is essential).
  5. The use of “B” roll video/images enhances most videos and should be used when possible (inserting a still photo or background video under someone speaking).
  6. The video must try to tell a story (storyboards are recommended).
  7. The last frame must contain the College Logo and Web address. In some cases, a prior frame may contain Web links to information about an event or Website.
  8. The individual(s) appearing in the video should be engaged with the camera. They should be looking at the camera at all times unless they are being interviewed where interaction is required.
  9. The limited use of copyrighted material (video/audio) may be subject to limitations. The use of such material should be discussed with the Associate Director of Web & Digital Marketing.

YouTube Videos

  1. The College logo must appear in the first frame.
  2. The HD logo currently being used must appear in the next frame.
  3. The title of the video or the person appearing on screen must be identified.
  4. The College drop-shadow logo must appear in the upper right corner of the Video because YouTube will drop their logo in the lower right portion of the video (This is the only exception to the use of the College logo in a video).
  5. The use of “B” roll video/images enhances most videos and should be used when possible (inserting a still photo or background video under someone speaking).
  6. The video must try to tell a story (storyboards are recommended).
  7. The last frame must contain the College Logo and Web address. In some cases, a prior frame may contain Web links to information about an event or Website.
  8. The individual(s) appearing in the video should be engaged with the camera. They should be looking at the camera at all times unless they are being interviewed where interaction is required.
  9. The limited use of copyrighted material (video/audio) may be subject to limitations. The use of such material should be discussed with the College Director of Communications.

Keeping sites fresh and accurate requires consistent updates, revisions and modifications. Sites should be built for simple, efficient management and evolution. Web management tools should be chosen based on the needs of the sites’ managers and contributors, not simply the web developers or programmers.

For answers to additional questions please contact the Office of Web Services at web@otc.edu or call 417-447-7556