WebTech Monthly News - Winter 2022 Recap

4 Best Practices for Online Content Writing at Western

The new year presents a terrific opportunity to make changes to your website. Do you help generate content for your department website? Or simply write and send email communication for students, staff, or faculty? If so, here are a few of Western’s best practices for online writing to make your message more accessible.

  1. Stop using “WWU” and instead use “Western” or spell out “Western Washington University”. This includes when you write your alternative (alt) text for images. The word Western with two syllables is much easier for those using assistive technologies than WWU. For additional best writing practices, check out Western’s Writer’s Guide.
  2. Craft link text to be meaningful and easy to speak out loud. Providing descriptive link text helps users know where they are going and makes it easier to navigate across websites. Consider these guidelines when writing link text:
    • Avoid link text like “Click Here,” or “Learn More.” The vagueness of these links is confusing when a screen reader reads them out of context.
    • Use unique link text where possible. Speech recognition software users may have an unpleasant experience with duplicated link text on the same page. Multiple “Read More” links on a page for example are not helpful.
    • Linking to a full sentence is okay but avoid anything longer.
    • When linking full URLs, use judgment. Consider users who must speak it aloud and who must listen to a screen reader announce it.
  3. Link all emails and phone numbers. Providing links to emails and telephone numbers not only increases the ease of use for a visitor but more importantly, increases the accessibility of your online communication. Users will not need to copy and paste text using their screen reader; they can automatically follow the link to get to the right place without additional work. However, we generally do not link fax numbers.
  4. Provide Context When Using Acronyms and Abbreviations. Abbreviations and acronyms are shortened forms of a word(s). They assist in making longer content easy to read and often help by avoiding the repetition of words. However, when used without explanation, acronyms are confusing to readers. Unfamiliar abbreviations that aren’t explained are a burden on a reader’s memory, making reading slower as readers must pause to remember what each abbreviation means. In addition, abbreviations do not look like standard words, so they cannot be pronounced as expected by screen readers. We realize academic writing uses abbreviations and acronyms far more often than other types of writing, so when abbreviations are used, any of these techniques will help make them more accessible:
    • Providing the long-form explanation in the term's first occurrence, like "Outreach and Continuing Education (OCE)" or "OCE (Outreach and Continuing Education)"
    • Providing a glossary of terms
    • Linking to an abbreviations page that defines the term and long-form version. There are more techniques for making accessible abbreviations in the Web Accessibility initiative guide.

Drupal Updates

Issues Resolved:

  • Security Updates

  • Feeds RSS importer bug resolved where certain news feeds would time out

  • Layout builder bug patched

Module Updates:

  • Drupal Core

  • Numerous modules to be compatible with PHP 8.1

New Modules/Themes:

  • New Administration Theme – Claro

The complete Drupal Changelog.

Drupal Theme Updates

Ashlar 5.0 has been released. Please read the release notes if you would like to review the changes.

  • NPM updates

  • Facebook tracking pixel removed

  • Able Player styling

  • SkipTo plugin removed from the theme

  • Line height reset on cards

Find out more on the Ashlar Changelog.

WordPress: Updates from CampusPress

WordPress Theme Updates

  • Work continues on an updated WP theme. We hope to have a new version available in the coming month.

Plugin Updates:

  • Content Control: New – plugin added.

  • Live Shortcodes: Fix – compatibility with block builder.

  • Restricted Site Access: Upgrade – version 6.0.

  • CoBlocks: Upgrade – version 2.25.5.

Review the CampusPress Changelog for specific details on plugin updates.