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LibGuides Standards and Best Practices

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Structure & Layout

Best Practices for Research and Course Guides

Make Use of Images

Images on a page or in a particular box can serve several purposes. They can liven up a page. They can catch the user's eye.  They can break up text. They can provide graphical clues about content.  

It's important to adhere to copyright and accessibility standards when using images.

The following are three useful resources for adding images:

Multimedia Resources

In addition to text based resources consider adding podcasts, videos and other multimedia. They can add interest and appeal to guides as well as useful information.

It's important to adhere to copyright standards when using multimedia.

Links

Links to resources should be added as link assets.

  • Give each link a description. Shorter descriptions are generally better and in keeping with the goal of less text-heavy guides
  • Don't add the BC Library prefix to the URL. Instead, click the proxy button and the proxy address will automatically be added.
  • Always have the description display beneath item title. Never have it hidden behind a pop up button as this isn't accessible.Image showing the Description Display option to choose, which is Display beneath item title.
  • Reuse link assets as often as possible. This makes it easier to batch update.
  • Order link lists by relevance.
  • Always link to the specific page that will be needed by the user; refrain from linking to the main page of a large and potentially confusing website.

Linked text in rich-text boxes

If you add links directly into a rich-text box then those links can't be managed by the link asset manager.

Instead, use link or database assets to link to resources from your guides.

If you must use links inside a rich-text box then check that these links open in a separate page or tab.

  • If using the link button in the rich text editor be sure to set the target to Same Window (_self) on the target tab.Changing Target attribute for a link
  • Check link code in the Source view and make sure all anchor tags have target="_self" inside.

Links should make sense if the linked text is read by itself. Screen reader users may choose to read only the links on a web page. Avoid phrases like “click here” and “more”.

  • Unclear link text: Go to this US Government source for comprehensive homeowner data by clicking here.
  • Clear link text: The US Government provides comprehensive homeowner data.

Naming Conventions

Use these tips for giving a short and descriptive name for pages and content boxes.

  • Jargon: avoid library jargon in naming pages.  Favor action words.
  • Specific Titles: be specific in naming pages. “Encyclopedias” or "Overviews" are more meaningful to students than “Reference Tools”.
  • Short Titles: keep page titles short – they should clearly reflect the content in that page.
  • Use "&": use "&" instead of "and" in titles.
  • Capitalization: use appropriate capitalization.
  • Vagueness: Avoid vague terms like "other" or "additional resources".

Home page

  • Better not to title it “Home.” Something like “Getting Started” or "Overview" is better.
  • "Start Here" is another good title if your guide walks a user through a process. 

Profile Box

The profile box should only be on the “Getting Started” (Home) page of your guide, in the top right column.

Examples of how to title the profile box

For research or course guides the title of the profile box should read Subject Librarian. Also consider editing the profile box title to refer to your subject specialty: Art Librarian.

Other guides should have a profile box titled Guide Author or Subject Librarian.

The profile box should include

  • office address
  • email address
  • phone number
  • photo

Additional information can be found on this Introduction to profiles page.

Keep as Much as Possible to Top of Guide

Try to have as much of the important content of the guide clearly visible without having to scroll down. Many users will only read what’s near the top of the screen. If need for scrolling is excessive, consider reorganizing the material.

Tags/Subjects

Subjects and Tags editors

Every guide should be assigned appropriate tags and subjects that specify the content of the guide.

  • Tagging helps to organize guides and makes them searchable.
  • Add tags that are appropriate for the content of your guide.
  • New tags can be created but you should also reuse tags as much as possible.

Friendly URL

Friendly URLs make it easy to quickly see and understand the purpose of the page. For example, /g=46515&p=365289 is not intuitive but /libguidesintro/thebasics carries meaning.

  • Friendly URLs should be added to all pages.
  • Should always be lowercase.
  • Use letters, numbers dashes and underscores.
  • Don't use spaces! Use either dashes, underscores or combine into one word.
  • Limit to one or two words.

set the smart urls by clicking the pencil icons in the edit screen

The friendly URLs can be set in the following ways:

  • Guide: click the pencil next to the URL label
  • Page: click the pencil icon in the bordered box next to the Page URL label. This must be set for every page.

Pages

Avoid subpages as much as possible. Before putting content in a subpage, think about whether it can be put in a separate box on the parent page or homepage without making that page too long.

The organization of pages should be consistent. Subjects and formats should not be mixed. For example, if one has an Education guide and one tab is “Educational Psychology” and another “Journal Articles” students may be confused how to find an article on educational psychology.