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Skidmore College
Communications & Marketing

Skidmore Web Design Standards

To assist offices and departments in developing effective websites that are compatible with the College’s Web design and functionality, the Office of Strategic Communications has developed templates and related guidelines. The templates establish a consistent presentation by placing key elements (a header, footer, and sidebar) in the same location on all pages, enabling users to navigate easily across the overall Skidmore site. This standardization spares users from having to learn a new navigation scheme every time they visit a new site within the Skidmore Web. This is particularly important as people access individual pages via search engines or personal bookmarks since the design makes it clear that the information comes from Skidmore even if accessed without navigating through the home page. The templates simplify and enhance the design process; they provide a framework and navigation system for the designer, yet they leave ample room for creativity and individuality within the middle portion of the pages.

Skidmore College utilizes CMS (content management system) templates to ensure that college web pages meet the basic graphic identity standards.  Pages not using CMS templates (i.e. Dreamweaver) must, at minimum, meet these web design standards:

  • All policies associated with the use of the Skidmore seal, wordmark, and logos must be followed. See the Graphic Standards Manual for details.
  • All pages must include a link to the Skidmore home page.
  • All pages must include an email contact address for the person responsible for maintaining that page and responding to questions from visitors.
  • Page designers are expected to select page colors that complement those used on official Skidmore web pages (see list here).  Pages containing significant amounts of text should use a white or light-colored background and contrasting type.  Black or other dark-colored backgrounds with reverse type should not be used.
  • Typefaces selected must complement those used on official Skidmore web pages.  When a page is designed as a graphic, we strongly recommend the use of 24-point Adobe Garamond #636055 for headlines.  When type is embedded in a page, Verdana font should be used for headlines, subheaders, and text.
  • All college web pages, whether in CMS or another system, should be compliant with the provisions of the Skidmore Web Accessibility Policy.
    • This includes a requirement that images on a page need to have ALT attributes for readability by text-based browsers (often used by those with visual impairments).  
  • All images used on Skidmore webpages must be hosted on Skidmore servers, not hot-linked from other locations (commonly referred to as bandwidth leeching).
  • HTML emails sent on behalf of Skidmore College should comply with the rules governing web design.  Contact the Skidmore Webmaster Team for assistance in designing, editing, and sending large-quantity emails.
  • As defined in the Skidmore Guide to Writing, all resources should be properly cited to avoid plagiarism.

The Office of Communications and Marketing and the Web Department are authorized to monitor and review Skidmore's official web pages for accuracy of information and compliance with Skidmore web design standards.  Units or individuals responsible for pages that do not meet these standards will be asked to modify their pages.  The Director of Web Development is authorized to remove (or edit without permission) any pages on the Skidmore network that repeatedly fail to meet Skidmore web design standards.  Please note that these standards are not meant to govern the design of pages intended exclusively for Skidmore students, faculty, or staff (e.g., academic course-related pages, internal newsletters, etc.)

Additional Recommendations and Considerations

  • It is recommended that all of your website viewable area fit within an area of 800 x 600 pixels.
  • Web pages should be tested on multiple platforms (PC and Mac) and in multiple browsers (IE, Firefox, Safari, etc.).
  • The Office of Communications and Marketing fully supports web pages developed in the CMS.  Instructional Technology provides support for web pages created on the college servers using Dreamweaver, subject to their own limits (contact IT for information). 
  • The Office of Communications and Marketing can provide references if you wish to develop a website through off-campus means, but Communications will not provide technical support for any sites not on campus servers, or sites developed by off-campus vendors or designers. 

This policy is adapted from the RIT policy on web design standards.  This policy is subject to change as new standards are deemed necessary.  This version is based on the 2009 edition of the Graphic Standards manual, but contains more up-to-date information and thus shall be considered the official statement regarding web design standards.  If you have any questions or wish to report an error, please contact the Skidmore Webmaster Team.