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Public web guidelines  

Last Updated: Aug 21, 2014 URL: http://libguides.mit.edu/guidelines Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Home Print Page

Principles of our web site

  • Less is more
  • Use the templates.
  • Follow style guidelines.
  • Link to, rather than recreate.
  • Share ideas for new designs across libraries (via the User Interface Group).


  • frees staff to work on new creative web projects
  • information can be updated in one place (instead of several places)
  • consistency makes it easier for our users to navigate the site

Additional reading:

Writing for the Web


Publishing checklist

Before making your pages live:

1) Check your spelling

2) Make sure the title tag matches what's on your page and follows our guidelines for title tags.

3) Upload to a "test" directory on the server.

4) Make sure all your links work.

5) View your page on at least one computer that's different from your own.

6) Show your page to one of your peers for review and comments.

7) Fix any bugs that you find.

8) Make it live by copying it to its real directory.

9) Notify others who may wish to link to it.


Shortcut URLs

Always use our shortcut URL instead of the actual URL when you

  • link to one of the pages listed below
  • refer to the page in a printed brochure, poster, or hand-out
  • create a long and complex URL (such as a Vera URL, or a proxy server URL)

You will never have to update the link in case we move a page -- we will keep them up-to-date behind the scenes.

General shortcuts | Vera database shortcuts | Barton shortcuts | Behind-the-scenes | Other / help

General shortcuts (public list)

  • The list of general shortcuts covers most of the primary pages that people want to link to. This list is available to all so that the public, including webmasters of other departments at MIT, will never need to update their links.

Vera database shortcuts ("get URLs" and "info URLs")

1. There is a "get URL" for each database in Vera. For example,
The get URL is listed after each database name in the A-Z list of databases in Vera.

Use these to link to databases from other pages on our web site, including LibGuides pages.

2. We also have "info URLs" for each database in Vera. These link to the complete metadata about each database in our A-Z list, for example:

Barton shortcuts

Use these to link to specific search screens in barton.

There are also special shortcuts for each queue into the "Ask Us! — live" service. The Web Manager has details about these if you need to know.


  • If you know of other pages that could use a shortcut, email web-lib@mit.edu
  • See also Redirects

Linking: open in same page, or new tab?

When linking to other pages, almost always choose to link within the same browser window.  Don't have the links open in a new tab or window!!

Usability tests have proven that users don't like to have many tabs or windows open, and the web browsing experience becomes disorienting when new tabs open unexpectedly. Today's web users are savvy enough to understand how the back button works and find it irritating to have to close multiple tabs.

Exception to the rule: There are very few exceptions to this, so think very hard before you choose to have a link open in a new tab. One exception might be if a user needs to consult the current page after they open the linked page.


Staff profiles + photos

Visit Creating staff profiles for details.



http://libguides.mit.edu/ - the LibGuides pages

LibGuides guidelines - guidelines for public LibGuides



Overview and guidelines | Applying for a new wiki | Setting up your wiki | More about permissions

Overview and guidelines:

Any member of the MIT community can request a Confluence wiki space for use by their group or project.

Applying for new wiki :

Visit https://wikis.mit.edu/confluence/display/MITDASHBOARD/Wiki+Requests

Form answers:

  • Space Title: Start with "Libraries" (e.g. "Libraries Instruction Toolkit")
  • Space key: This is a short alphanumeric string which becomes part of the URL for the space (e.g. LIBINSTRUCT): The key should be a shortened version of your title. It:
    • must be unique to this space
    • must be ALLCAPS
    • can't contain spaces or dashes
    • should be short
    • Libraries spaces should start with LIB (e.g. "LIBINSTRUCT")
  • Notes: Briefly describe what your wiki will be used for.
  • Membership options: You can optionally associate a Moira group (or groups) with your wiki space.
    • If you choose not to use groups, you can still manage permissions for your space by designating permissions for individual users.
    • You can also associate a Moira group or groups with the wiki space at a later time.
  • Hit "Submit Request."
  • An email will arrive from MIT IS&T: Athena User Accounts
    Phone: 617-253-1325
    usually by the next day, containing your wiki's URL and other information.

Setting up your wiki

When you receive your approval email, click on the URL link to surf to your home page.

  • Choose "edit" (at top right of page), and you can
    - change the name of your first wiki page from "Home" to the actual name, minus the word "Libraries" - e.g., "Instruction Toolkit."
    - add a search box, if you'd like, by including this code:
  • {search-box:label=Search this wiki}

  • Help for maintaining your wiki is available from every page: choose from the Get Help or Resources menu at the bottom of each page.
  • For more help, email wiki-support@mit.edu

Set permissions:

  • Choose "Browse" (at right top)
  • Choose "Space Admin"
  • Choose "Security > Permissions" on the left side of the Space Admin. page.
  • Chose "edit permissions" in any category.
    • Individuals: Entering an individual's MIT Kerberos name will cause their full name to appear on the list of individuals.
    • Group: Remember that you can only grant permissions to a group to which you already belong.
      - About groups in Moira
    • Anonymous Access: don't use this unless you want the whole world to be able to read and/or edit your wiki!
  • For a non-MIT user:
    • The user must first sign in to Touchstone by visiting the Wiki space
    • Choose the magnifying glass next to the box marked "Grant browse permission to"
    • this will pop up a new window called "User Search".  
    • enter the user's non-MIT email there, and "search" for her
    • check the resulting entry, which will say something like:
      • username_3@touchstonenetwork.net | User's name | user's non-MIT address
    • choose "Select Users"
    • That will pop you back to the permissions screen, which will have auto-entered "username_3@touchstonenetwork.net" in the "Add" box.
    • choose"Add".
  • Remember: always save your work before exiting the page, or it will revert to the previous state.
  • More permissions information: Controlling access to your Wiki space

Set Team membership:

When you log on and arrive at the Wiki Dashboard, you have the option to limit the number of wikis you see under Spaces: "My", "Team", "New" or "All."

You will only see spaces on which you have some level of permission (even if it's only permission to read - even so, "All" can be a long list.)

To add your space to the Libraries team:

  • While in your space, choose "Browse" (at right top)
  • Choose "Space Admin"
  • Choose "Space Operations > Edit Space Labels" on the left side of the Space Admin. page.
  • Add Team Label on the right side of this page.

Set "Look and Feel"

  • Choose "Browse"
  • Choose "Space Admin"
  • Choose "Look and Feel"
    • Themes - most people like the Default Theme

To replace the generic MIT logo MIT with the Libraries logoLibraries logo

  • Download the image to your hard disk
  • Choose "Space Admin > Look and Feel > Change Space Logo."
  • Use the box to browse to the image on your HD.
  • Chose "Upload Logo" - and the logo for your site will change.
  • Remember: always save your work before exiting the page, or it will revert to the previous state.








* more about Moira groups

A mailing list is not always a group.

When you create a new mailing list, you have the option of also turning it into a group. If you will want your list members to have permissions on your wiki, be sure to make it a group. If the group to which you want to give permissions is not on the drop-down groups menu, ask a member of that group to add you.

We are all members of all-lib, which is both a list and a group: Choosing "display list characteristics" for all-lib in the athena list management page tells us, in part:

List: all-lib
Description: Libraries staff list - all staff
This list is a mailing list.
This list is a Group and its ID is: 28676

Case in point: dsg-lib was created as a list, but not a group - so when we first tried to give dsg-lib permissions in the DOME Selection Group wiki, we failed.

The IS&T wiki administrators are able to turn lists into groups, after which, permissions can be applied. Ask the wiki administrators for help.

Exception: Because of the evolution of the Confluence Wiki service, several groups, including "all-lib," are named "confluence-groupname." If you can't find your group in the alphabet, look under "c.

If you don't see the group (not the same as a list!) that you want, ask a member of the group to add you to the group through Moira.

More about permissions

Visit the Libraries Wiki Chat page about permissions to find answers to questions about things like giving permissions on your wiki to someone who's never had permissions on an MIT wiki before.



Title tags



Where possible, make these 3 things match:

• name of the link to your page
• visible name at top of page
• title tag

Sometimes you'll need to break this rule, but keep it in mind as a general principle.

Specific --> General

For our site, title tags go from specific to general. For example, this page could be:

Title tags: Web Style Guidelines: Web Advisory Group: MIT Libraries

However, sometimes it makes sense to leave out a level of the hierarchy because it's redundant, or to make it shorter. So you might decide (as we did for these pages) to leave out "web advisory group" on all the pages of this sub-site:

Title tags: Web Style Guidelines: MIT Libraries

Title tags appear in search engine results pages, and in people's bookmarks. So it's important to think about making them clear to someone out of the context of our site. They may see your title tag in a results screen from a Google search.

So for that reason, always include "MIT Libraries" as the last element of your title tag.

Sometimes you may want to change the colon separators to actual words, to make it more clear what the page is. For example,

Annual Reports: MIT Libraries

has been changed to:

Annual Reports of the MIT Libraries

..to distinguish it from reports of companies that we may supply.


URLs & file names

Naming Conventions

• Use lower-case file names.




• Use words instead of abbreviations, where possible.




• Use dashes ( - ), not underscores ( _ )





These make URLs easier to remember, read and type. Think of all the times you need to read a URL to someone on the telephone. It's easier if you don't have to spell out every word and capital letter, and a dash prevents readers from mistaking a hidden underscore for a space.


Staff Web | MIT Libraries | MIT

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