Documents on the Web

Following are some document guidelines to consider when uploading them to the web.

Why MS Office is not the answer for the Web

Not everyone can afford to have Microsoft Office installed for their computers. So by uploading that really neat graphic-intensive, slick-looking Word document to your departmental website, you may have significantly reduced the number of visitors who can view that document. Instead, convert the document to a PDF format. Almost all ESU computers have an updated version of MS Office installed on them. You can easily convert that document in MS Office from Word/Excel/Powerpoint to PDF with just a few clicks of a button. An Adobe PDF Reader is free to install, and visitors can then easily view the documents you post on your website.

A form created in MS Word also causes problems for the visitor. First, visitors might not have Word to view the document. Second, even if they have Word, they will have trouble filling in the blanks since the underlines move to the next line as text is inserted.

With dotCMS, it is easy for you to create a user-fillable form without the nagging problems caused by a Word-created one.

Departmental Websites turning into Document Archives

We understand the need for MS Office documents and PDFs for communicating certain information that otherwise wouldn't make sense as a webpage. But having too many PDFs on your departmental site is seldom the answer either. Overusing PDFs makes your website look like nothing more than a page with links to PDF downloads. This doesn't help the user experience and guarantees that many of them will not return to your site. We urge content authors to take the time to carefully develop their web content. Doing so will save you time and cause fewer headaches for visitors to your site.

We are certainly not saying not to use PDFs at all, but a general rule of thumb is to convert those documents to html webpages.

File naming conventions

Files should have meaningful names. It wouldn't help if your application document was named "Untitled" or "Document 01-CopyNew."

For example if a document is an admissions application to a program. For example, by naming an admissions application "Application to Program XYZ 2010.pdf" we have given the document a descriptive title. But what happens in 2011? A new document may be named "Application to Program XYZ 2011.pdf," but then the old document would need to be deleted, and then webpage links to the document would need to be updated. We could save ourselves time and a few steps by naming the document "Application to Program XYZ.pdf." By doing so we only need to replace the existing document with the new document, and we are done. No changing links, no deleting an old document since we are overwriting the previous one.

Please note: The above scenario is applicable when the document will be overwritten with new information, and the old document will be deleted.