Some good practice ideas:
- Stick with the default layout unless you have a good reason for changing it - students get to know the default layout and find it easier to navigate different sites if the layout is basically the same.
- Avoid clutter - use folders or learning modules to group items.
- Use a structure students will understand immediately so they can find what they are looking for easily, without having to scroll or click through numerous pages.
- Provide all essential information, including assessment details and tools, required learning materials, details of how to communicate online.
- Check that all items are accurate, current and working.
- Maintain the site so that students can access the most relevant items at any time. Remove or update out-of-date items.
- Use clear titles and file names and brief item descriptions so students know what an item is without having to open it.
- Apply Deakin's 10 quality principles for the Web (see below).
For more information, see Designing your online/blended unit: site design and development.
Deakin Institute of Teaching and Learning Principles of Teaching, Learning and the Student Experience:
- A learning environment that is flexible and responsive to student support needs
Knowledge Media Division 10 quality principles for the Web:
- Audience focused: Create your site for the intended audience only.
- Content is king: Content is well structured and clearly written.
- User friendly: Navigation is clear and simple, so that users can get to the information they want quickly
- Good web writing: Content is written for the web, with balance of text, images, links and content chunked appropriately for 'scanning'.
- Accessible: Provide alternative text for all non-text elements (images, video and audio).
- Designed to Deakin standards: Ensure that the site follows Deakin's Web Publishing Design Guidelines, in the areas of the Deakin 'look and feel" and html. Check also Business rules for Deakin web sites.
- Put users in control: Ensure nothing happens on a page that the user hasn't requested (e.g. videos don't start without warning).
- Keep users informed: Alert users when a link will open in a new window or will take them to an external site. Tell them the file type and size of downloadable files.
- Name files sensibly: Name files (pages / images etc) so that the user can identify the topic covered by the file. (No gaps and no capital letters in file names!)
- Spell check - Check your spelling and grammar. Check that your use of language aligns with the Deakin University Editorial Style Guide.
Some of these examples of good practice were compiled while Deakin was using the old DSO learning management system (Blackboard), but most of the ideas can be implemented with the current technologies, and may be well worth considering.