Summary: This article describes the governance used to facilitate an intuitive, seamless and satisfying User Experience across all Baylor websites.

Approving Authority: Office of Information Technology – Enterprise Technology

Last Updated: Dec. 10, 2018

Purpose: The purpose of this governance is to ensure the appropriate consideration for User Experience (UX) concepts is included in website design and creation to ensure the site favorably represents Baylor College of Medicine.

Scope: This governance applies to all websites sponsored or hosted by Baylor College of Medicine.

Definitions

User Experience

User experience (UX) describes the user’s interaction with a website, app, or other digital media.  UX focuses on having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations.  It also considers the business goals and objectives of the group managing the site. UX best practices promote improving the quality of the user’s interaction with and perceptions of Baylor products and related services.

Useful: Your content should be original and fulfill a need 
Usable: Site must be easy to use 
Desirable: Image, identity, brand, and other design elements are used to evoke emotion and appreciation 
Findable: Content needs to be navigable and locatable onsite and offsite 
Accessible: Content needs to be accessible to people with disabilities 
Credible: Users must trust and believe what you tell them

Responsibilities

The Office of Information Technology – Core Application Services will serve as a technical resource to assist developers with creation of the site elements that consider UX.

The Office of Communications and Community Outreach and the Marketing Group will develop UX-centric content for sites that comply with Baylor standards.

Guidelines

Processes

Fundamentals of a Website

A good website meets user needs and delivers a positive experience. When you are creating, updating or maintaining a site, the following questions should be considered:

1. What is the purpose of the website/change?
2. Who is your target audience and how will they find you? Identify who your audience is – faculty, staff, students, researchers, patients, media, etc. Consider how they will find your site or better phrased, how are you going to let them know your site is available – SEO, integrated marketing, another website.
3. What type of site/experience are you trying to create? Informational, sales, announcement, blog, functional application, humorous.
4. What do you want the user to do? Call to action (CTA) – be clear and concise – don’t make the user think or guess.
5. What will the user want to do? This can be different from what you want them to do. To help, develop use cases and try to answer questions before they are asked.
6. Is the content on your site original, engaging and relevant to the user? You may develop the most creative/beautiful site, but if the user doesn’t find the answer to “what’s in it for me?” they’ll leave the site, likely to never return.
7. Is your site/app responsive?

Standards

Site Organization

Organize the site content to best enhance the user experience. Think of your site's organization as a table of contents, but from the user's perspective. Group pages as buckets of related information. Users will click to view deeper content if the site is easy to navigate, but may choose to leave your site entirely if content is not easily found. Make sure that the more important information is within a top-level of a section.

1. Site architecture

Content Evaluation - identify what type of content would be relevant, accurate and effective to the intended audience.
Information-grouping - organizing your content into user-centered, top-level categories.
Standardize content (consistency) - Establish a standard, consistent vocabulary for the site to apply to all site content.
Related links - Create descriptive, useful metadata, “related link” lists and other navigation components that aid in discovery.

2. Site Navigation

Site navigation is the roadmap for the user to find out where they are and where they can go. Just like with any map, if you don’t make it intuitive and easy to understand the user will get lost.

3. Directory Naming Conventions

• Directory names should not be unnecessarily long and should make use of relevant words. Recommendations for folder names should use the following:
• Use simple language, no jargon;
• Language should be easily understood and compelling to those seeking its content;
• Contain keywords to help the user see that they’re getting what they want and expect;
• Should match the title of the page which lets the user know what they are about to read. One creates an expectation (URL) and the other delivers on it (Page title/content);
• Should be all lower-case; and
• Should not include spaces or special characters—hyphens are preferred to underscores.

Content

Page content should be relevant, engaging and clear in the messaging or the call to action for the intended audience.

1. Readability

Readability is important to the user experience. Users will scan web pages for a few seconds, looking for key words in headlines and in the first paragraphs before clicking away. One question to keep in mind when creating a page is: How easily can the user understand the written text? 

2. Page Text

• Text on a page should be text, not an image of text.
• Most important information should be higher on the page.
• Include introductory content that summarizes the page and its purpose
• Break up content with headings (h1, h2, h3 tags) to make the page easier to scan.
• Use bulleted lists or graphics when possible.
• Make sure there is sufficient contrast between text and background color or images.
• Hyperlinks and Calls to Action (CTAs) should be short and clearly marked.

3. Layout

• Use tables only to display tabular data (Don’t use for page content)
•  Don’t rely on images for page layout. Use proper HTML and CSS.

4. Hyperlinks

•  Use concise words for hyperlinks
•  Link to nested content or related topics to help with SEO
•  Use consistent styling for Links (Color, underline, etc.)
•  Links should include title tag.

5. Images

•  Images should have meaningful, descriptive alt tags for accessibility.
•  Use only non-copyrighted images. If copyrighted images are used with permission, a photo credit needs to be displayed with the image.
•  Image size should be appropriate for use, not stretched or squashed.

6. Metadata – SEO

•  Title - The Title Tag defines the title of the web page. Title tags are used on search engine results pages and are important for both SEO and social sharing. 
•  Description - The Meta Description should include a concise description of the web page that a searcher will want to click. The description is displayed on search engine result pages to display a preview for the page.
•  Keywords - The Meta Keyword tag should not be used as it is no longer is a factor in the Google search algorithm.

Nonconformities

Deviations from this guidance will reduce user experience and have a negative impact on site SEO.

*Note: Policies cited in the Digital Governance document (approved by the Board and published in March 2019) supersede any previous agreement, policy and/or guideline.