Web Content Responsibilities

The website is often the primary source of information for our prospective students, current students and employees. Ensure all the content on your pages is accurate, up-to-date, and well-presented.

The quality of website content has a direct impact on the University’s strategic goals and reputation. Therefore, MarCom applies several criteria to all University website content.

General criteria

All content on Detroit Mercy websites should be:

  • Focused on needs of the site’s target audience(s)
  • Organized and presented the way the target audience would expect
  • Appealing to those audiences, e.g. in writing style, scope, perspective, etc.
  • Accurate and up-to-date
  • Fully accessible

Written Content

Text content should also be:

  • Well-written (e.g. proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, use of headings, etc.)
  • Consistent with MarCom writing style in all particulars such as personal titles, location names, capitalization rules, etc.
  • Text must be actual text on the webpage, not text that is inserted in an image file. (See “Imagery” below.)
  • You must use good header structure. Review "Header Structure for Accessibility."

Be Concise

  • Include only one idea per paragraph
  • Use the inverted pyramid style and start with the main point
  • Break content into bulleted lists when possible
  • Write short paragraphs, short sentence and short words
  • Left justification is the most accessible. Do not center, justify or right-justify paragraphs


  • Links must be descriptive out of context. Avoid "Click here" and "Read more." Use "Read the X Report" or "Download the X program Application" instead.
  • If linking to a PDF or doc file, indicate that in the link: "Download the X Report (PDF)"


Tables should be avoided where possible.  Never use tables for layout purposes.  If presenting legitimate tabular data, keep the table simple and for accessibility, include in the table's XHTML code:

  • top caption
  • summary
  • table headers

Ask MarCom to check your table for accessibility and include the class="table" to help readability.


In addition to general content criteria, visual content should also meet the following criteria. To process images, you can use GIMP (free, and installed on University computers), Photoshop or an online service such as Squoosh. Please let MarCom help you if the proper handling of images is confusing to you.

Images must be:

  • Cropped so that image has appropriate shape for page placement
  • Sized so that image dimensions are the same as the intended display size on the webpage
  • Compressed to minimize file size while retaining reasonable quality
  • Of the most appropriate image file format, e.g. JPG for photos, PNG or GIF for flat-color graphics, PNG for images with transparent parts. Typically, the format that has the smallest file size for acceptable visual quality is the right choice.
  • Properly described in the webpage code with “alternate text” (alt text) for people who cannot see the image. For example, an image might have an “alt” value like “Two students laugh with a professor near the Fisher Fountain." Rule of thumb: alt text should describe what is in the photo for people who cannot see it and support the purpose for which it is there.


Photos should have good lighting and composition, and contain appealing-looking subjects that are relevant to the context. Target audience members have told us that, in particular, pictures of campus and of diverse people interacting with each other are interesting to them.  Photos are most appropriately compressed as JPG files.


Graphics should appear professionally made, and should be consistent with website design. The PNG image file format is appropriate for graphics with few colors (as opposed to full-color photos).

Avoid text within images

The use of text as part of an image is poor web practice for multiple reasons, including usability, maintainability, accessibility for disabled people and design consistency. Avoid adding text into images, or do so very sparingly, with complete alternative text added to the webpage code (alt text) for users who cannot see images. (See why on the Usability and Accessibility page.)

Files: PDFs and Word Documents

Finally, PDF and Word documents should never be used for ordinary content. In other words, if content can be presented as part of a webpage, it should be.  But if you must publish a less-accessible Word or PDF file to the website, it must still legally meet all of the same accessibility requirements as an HTML webpage. The accessibility requirements include:

  • header structure
  • text spacing
  • readability and logical reading order
  • tab order
  • bookmarks
  • color contrast
  • image alt tags
  • and language settings

Current PDFs and Word documents on the websites must be remediated for accessibility and any future ones must meet standards before posting them. MarCom has two web pages to help with this.

Outsourcing Documents

If documents are too difficult or time-consuming to remediate, you may have to outsource the job to a company specializing in document accessibility.

Video and Audio Files

In addition to all general content criteria (above), video content should also have:

  • Clear audio
  • Good lighting
  • Appropriate length (shorter is usually better)
  • Professional editing
  • Fully edited captioning / transcript – this is federal law. Typically, audio files and podcasts need only transcripts. Transcripts added to video files have additional benefits in usability and findability of the video content on search engines.

Review and comply with Video Production, Caption and Accessibility Guidelines.

Related Policy:


The Marketing & Communications Department can answer all your questions about how to properly represent the University of Detroit Mercy brand in all web content. Adhering to the University’s approved brand standards is a requirement for all University communications.

Copyright - Do not use unlicensed content

Website content must never infringe on copyrights. Do not use unlicensed content like images or music in any of the University websites or University videos. 

If you found an image or music online, you must have express written permission to use it.  This may involve paying for it.  Without express permission, you likely don’t have the right to use it. At best, you will be forced to remove it, or back pay for its use, when the holder of the copyright finds it. At worst, you will be subject to legal action. This applies to any kind of content, but images and music have been the most common problems.

For any copyrighted material used on our websites, the Marketing & Communications Department must receive a copy of the license to use the material. Email a copy of the license or permission to marcom@udmercy.edu.

Schedule regular site review and maintenance

Put it on your calendar to check your website on a regular basis, at least once per term (i.e. fall, winter, and summer). You may be surprised how often you find things you didn't realize you need to change, add, or delete.

  • Contact MarCom with any questions
    We always prefer that you ask Marketing & Communications (MarCom) for guidance whenever you have any confusion about how to keep your website in good condition. It takes much less time for us to guide you up front than to have to fix something later. Contact MarCom.

What to check in your site review

When reviewing and updating your website, focus on the following criteria for your content:

  • Accuracy – All dates, numbers, names, links, etc. are correct and up-to-date.
  • Relevance – Provide everything your customers want to know, and only what they want to know.  Your audience's interests should dominate all content.  The information your customers most commonly ask for should be at the beginning of your content.  Details and less frequent questions should be addressed further down in the page, or on deeper pages of the site.  As to extra information that people don’t usually ask for, it should not be on the site – it is clutter, which makes it harder for the user to find the important stuff.  The exception is when there is a legal requirement to provide certain information – in which case, make sure it is placed in a way that does not interfere with any content that is more important to your users.
  • Your customer’s language (not yours) – Never assume the terms you use every day mean anything to website users.  You may be amazed to realize that words and phrases that you think are universal and obvious are actually new and confusing insider jargon to your customers.  And the problem is, most customers won’t ask for clarification.  Question even your most basic lingo.  Would a high-school student (whose parents didn't go to college and who is just beginning their college search) understand every term you’re using?  Are you willing to risk losing a prospect on your assumption?  For example, don’t assume every prospective student knows the difference between a scholarship, a grant, and a loan.  Don’t assume they understand the meaning of advising or registration – these things can mean different things in different places.  Explain every term specific to your area.
  • Content responsibilities– Detailed content guidelines are listed below.  The guidelines are designed to maintain a high level of content quality.

If you are a good writer, also focus on the following needs for your website content.  If you are not a good writer, please ask MarCom personnel for help.  We are happy to apply our in-house editorial capacity to help you improve your content in the following areas.

  • Concision – On the Web especially, shorter writing is almost always better, but always provide reasonably full information.  “Contact us with any questions” is usually good to include too.
  • Tone – While the University is an intellectually advanced and professional organization, people will respond better to content that comes across as friendly, and which is easy to understand.  Dry, pompous, academic style is not going to help persuade anyone to attend or donate to Detroit Mercy.  Your text should read like a pleasant (if concise) conversation.
  • Basic writing quality – it is inexcusable for a university to publish incorrect spelling, grammar, or punctuation.  Note: Cascade Server performs a spell check when you submit changes to a page.  Use this opportunity to check all words, including proper names and acronyms carefully.  Beyond the fundamentals, write well, with tight focus, varied sentence length, appropriate vocabulary, etc.
  • Good use of headings – headings are important to help users browse a page for the information they need, by breaking up content into meaningful parts. Review "Header Structure for Accessibility."

There are many other aspects of website quality.  However, site keepers (the content experts of an area) should focus on the task of regularly reviewing your content and updating it on the above criteria, and contacting MarCom whenever you need help.

Marketing your program

The key to marketing your academic program is to:

  • Stop thinking in terms of what you care about.
  • Start thinking in terms of what prospective students care about.

In fact, your academic program is just a means to an end for your target audience. They don't enroll in a program because they like to study. They enroll as a path to a successful career and a happy, secure life.

Our job, then, is to persuade prospective students:

  • how the program will get them to their happy, successful life, and
  • how studying at Detroit Mercy offers advantages above other institutions.

To help you build a persuasive case, MarCom encourages you to collect the type of stories, stats, selling points, and outcomes that can increase your program's enrollment and share them with us.

>> Coordinate with us for a marketing campaign to promote your program.

MarCom Oversees


The MarCom controls the visual design of the main University websites.  Centralized control of website design is essential for consistency and maintainability.

Why can't we just ...?


Marketing & Communications helps with designing, evaluating, selecting, and integrating functional components of the University websites.

Functionality Considerations

Usability and Accessibility

Federal requirements for accessibility and the importance of usability.