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Sonoma State University Web Standards and Usage Style Recommendations

Web page designers need to consider style issues in the design and development of a site. The following style recommendations should be considered in the design of any web pages.

  1. Fonts
    1. For best accessibility, avoid specifying fonts at all, as they can affect the load time, print time and general access to a page. If other fonts are used:
      1. Limit the number of fonts used on a page to two to three. For example, use one font for the page title, a second for menu and button items, and possibly a third for page text.
      2. Be consistent in the font type and size. Guard against making the font size too small in an attempt to fit more information on a page.
      3. Use fancy fonts (such as Boulevard, Zapf Chancery or Mistral) minimally as they can be difficult to read and can detract from the appearance of the page. Since users will view pages in the fonts available on their computers, good fonts to choose are those that come installed on new computer systems.
  2. Navigation / Links
    1. Provide consistent, well thought-out navigation links on each site. It is important that the user always knows where he or she is.
    2. If a site has more than 10 or 12 pages, consider the use of a site map or site index to provide users with a quick reference to assist in navigation.
    3. No link shall be created that would lead users to an illegal site (e.g., sites distributing illegal software or bulletin boards with abusive or harassing materials) or a site inappropriate for the University (e.g., an archive containing child pornography).
  3. Loading
    Web pages should be designed to load as quickly as possible. The page and all its elements should be limited to 200K. Test load speed on a 28.8 modem connection and an on-campus Ethernet connection. Pages should load in fewer than 10 seconds.
  4. Frames
    Certain frames can confuse the user and complicate site navigation. Critical content should be available to clients without frames. Ifframes are used, test site navigation thoroughly on various computers using different browsers (Netscape, Internet Explorer or others) and operating systems (Windows, Macintosh).
  5. Color
    If the University's colors will be used, they are dark blue (PMS 286), light blue (PMS 278) and white.
  6. Images
    1. Use images to enhance the appearance and functionality of a web page. Keep image file sizes as small as possible to improve downloading time.
    2. Be aware that flashing or movable images or text can be distracting. Use them sparingly.
  7. Templates
    For ease in creating basic web pages, templates are available through the University Affairs Office.
  8. Graphical Elements
    Approved graphical elements such as the SSU seal and logos, bars, stripes, balls, buttons, SSU banners, etc. are available in the Icon Library at

Updated August 8, 2006 by