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Web Page Best Practices

The California State University San Marcos homepage was redesigned and launched the summer of 2016 in order to better reflect and serve the campus. The standards and guidelines listed here reflect the changes in the redesigned web pages. Every CSUSM webpage contributes to the user's perception of the University. When a user visits, they take away with them an impression of the University and its departments.

Official Name Usage

Formal / Official Name: California State University San Marcos

The official and legal name of the institution is California State University San Marcos (without a comma). All documents or publications communicating information about programs or services of the University should use this name on the cover in a clear and readable size, preferably through the use of an official logo variation. In addition, the full name should always be used as the first reference to the University in a speech or body of text.

Common Names:

  • Cal State San Marcos
  • CSU San Marcos

On subsequent reference in a speech or body of text, it is acceptable to use CSUSM, Cal State San Marcos, or CSU San Marcos. For headline use, CSUSM or Cal State San Marcos is acceptable. Cal State San Marcos is also acceptable for use in the University’s Spirit Logos.

Web Page Development And Maintenance

OU Campus Tutorials

  • Images need to be made larger (roughly 740 pixels wide) so that they fill up a phone's screen. Images also require a short and meaningful alternative text.
  • Images
  • Tables
    • Tables are only intended for data and should never be used for layouting purposes.
  • Page Headers
    • Page headings are required for visual skimming ease and for non-visual users to be able to navigate around the page.
  • Navigation
    • Mavigation items should never be redundant with other listings and should be short and descriptive.
  • Snippets
    • Snippets are being developed to help with accessible layouting and the ability to add accessible site features such as embedding forms, videos, etc.
  • Clean Up Old Content
    • Old, unused content should be removed from sites to help clean up search results. Content that is not planning to be used should be recycled.
  • Videos
    • Videos must be accurately captioned prior to being added to a webpage. Youtube's auto-captioning feature is not sufficient in this process and must be professionaly done.

Need help? If you are having difficulties with any edits on your page(s), suspect a process is taking too long, or encounter an issue not covered in a guide, please contact

  • Keep navigation consistent throughout the site. Users should always be able to return easily to your homepage and to other major navigation points in the site, including the main CSUSM homepage.
  • Divide your information into clearly defined sections.
  • Use logical naming convention for page headers (H1, H2, H3, etc.), menu labels and web addresses. Always use proper semantic markup for your web content.
  • Ensure that all images include an "ALT" tag and height and width information, so that nonvisual users with screen reader software will have some indication of the presence and nature of your visual content.
  • Provide contact info for site managers somewhere within your site.
  • Links should be created using text that makes sense when read out of context. For example, avoid "to download Form XYZ click here." Instead, simply hyperlink the words “Form XYZ.”
  • Understand the importance of search usability. Publish words in your website’s text that your target audience would enter in a search field to find you. For instance, if your web page is specifically about “scheduling campus tours,” then those words should appear clearly in the headlines and body text of your site. You might also consider contacting the Web Development team, and requesting specific search keywords like, “visit, tour, campus tour, schedule tour.” This will ensure your site is the first to show a search result.

Additional tips can be found in the Google Webmaster Guidelines and in the 3rd edition of the Web Style Guide Online.

Webpage Accessibility

The California State University San Marcos websites are accessed and used by a diverse group of people within the USA and around the globe. Some of our users, including students, prospective students, and employees who have visual or hearing impairments that create challenges in accessing websites and require the use of assistive technologies such as screen readers and text-only browsers. Further, other users of CSUSM websites may be using outmoded technology in another country or have very slow connection speeds compared with current technology and browser speeds.

California State University San Marcos is committed to providing equal access to information, programs, and activities by making our web pages accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. 1

This page provides resources and guidance to schools, departments and individuals involved in developing and maintaining a CSUSM-supported website.

Web accessibility refers to a goal of inclusive website development based on the concept that information on the Web should be available to all people, regardless of physical or developmental abilities or impairments. Examples of accessible web practices include:

  • Using a clean, consistent design to benefit people with learning or cognitive disabilities
  • Providing text equivalents for pictures and graphs for people who use screen-reader technology to access the site
  • Captioning videos to benefit people who are deaf or hearing-impaired
  • Designing a site to ensure it can be navigated with keyboard controls for people who cannot hold a mouse

More information on Web accessibility and Section 508 compliance is available at:

The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against any qualified individual in areas such as employment, public services, public accommodations, telecommunications and others.

The ADA and Section 508 require colleges and universities to make their services accessible to individuals with disabilities. This means that services offered over the Web should, to the extent possible, be made accessible either through the website or in some alternate format. Making the website itself accessible is the most direct and efficient way to comply and is in keeping with the guidance provided by the United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

Questions about what the law requires in specific situations, including accessibility issues, should be addressed to the CSUSM Web Development Team,