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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

General Guidelines

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Valuable content


All web pages should be created in answer to a question: "What need does this page meet for a member of one of our recognized constituencies: visitor, end-user, student, staff?" (or some other unique audience?) In response to this requirement, can we design each page to contain valuable content that answers a user’s question?


Presentation of benefits that your visitors to your web page will experience is the best welcome you can offer. The word "Welcome" in the title is all too often an empty phrase that attempts to camouflage a lack of valuable content. Opening statements such as "Welcome to Our Department Home Page!" are not recommended. Neither should such a statement be used as <title> in the <head> tag.

Under Construction

Do not use "Under Construction" statements on University pages. The purpose of every page within our website is to provide information or point to it. If there is no information to be posted on a page, creating the page serves no purpose and there is no reason to link to it.


Web sites with an ** URL are required by law to conform to the accessibility requirements identified in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. A detailed review of standards and guidelines to achieve conformity is available at State of Minnesota Office of Enterprise Technology web accessibility guidelines page. Prior to web site deployment, all pages should be tested using the free Cynthia Says application.

Goal and Definitions

The goal

A completely accessible web site makes all of its web content accessible to individuals with or without disabilities.


No part or function of the web content shall be excluded from being accessible to individuals with disabilities unless there is a compelling and legally justifiable reason to do so.
Web content
All of the information, resources, courses, and functionality of the institution's web site(s) shall be accessible. This includes any web "pages", and scripted or programmed content such as online registration programs, tutorials, email access, etc.
Individuals with disabilities
This includes individuals with impaired vision, hearing, voice, cognition, or musculoneural functions (e.g. seizures, impaired dexterity in the hands, limbs, and/or other parts of the body).
More information about this topic is available at the Web Accessibility Initiative site.
  1. Individuals with disabilities must be able to access web content either with standard technologies or with appropriate assistive technologies.
  2. The Web content itself must be directly accessible to individuals with disabilities, rather than available only in alternative formats, such as paper, Braille, audiotapes, etc., unless there is a compelling and legally justifiable reason to do otherwise.
  3. Content must adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) described by the Web Accessibility Initiative (W.A.I.) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) such that the pages meet ALL Priority 1 and Priority 2 checkpoints as well as the following Priority 3 checkpoints: 4.2, 4.3, 5.5, 9.4, 13.6, 13.10, and 14.3.
  4. Web-based instruction should allow for different learning styles and/or disabilities by utilizing more than one instructional approach and/or mode of presentation (e.g. text with graphics, audio or video) whenever possible—especially if direct student-instructor interaction is minimal.
  5. All Web-based instructional content, including any necessary accommodations, should be made available to students with disabilities at the same time that the content is made available to students without disabilities.


Positive user experience of web sites is a critical need to meet. According to Jakob Nielsen, a leading expert on web usability, this topic includes the following concepts:

  • Learnability
  • Efficiency of Use
  • Memorability
  • Few and Noncatastrophic Errors
  • Subjective Satisfaction

The most usable web sites are designed to achieve each of these features and foster ease of use. To learn more about these concepts, review the resources listed on the training page.


Web authors are responsible for thorough testing to check accessibility, links, page rendering, and functionality in all supported web browsers immediately following all web development work.