WWW Style Committee Report
Draft Version 1.6, April 13, 1995
- WWW Technical Committee
- WWW Style Committee
- Recommendations for style of SLAC Web pages
Background and Introduction
The WWW Style Committee was created as an ad hoc committee
by WWW Technical Committee to explore a number of stylistic
issues raised about SLAC's institutional and home pages,
and to recommend some general guidelines regarding present and
future page design at SLAC.
Members of the committee are
chair, P.A. Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Karen Heidenreich (email@example.com),
Kathryn Henniss (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Judy Nowag (email@example.com), and
Joan Winters (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The committee met over a three-month period (February through April,
1995), talked with people from the SLAC community involved with the
Web, and reviewed numerous Web documents.
At this time, the Committee welcomes comments from the SLAC
community about its preliminary recommendations as
represented in this draft, and is particularly
interested in input concerning which of the three SLAC core pages
(see discussion below) should come up as the default in
response to the request http://www.slac.stanford.edu/.
Comments and discussion may be posted to email@example.com
or may be directed to members of the committee. The deadline for
submitting comments that the Committee will consider in preparing
their final report to the WWW Technical Committee is
April 24, 1995.
This report outlines the preliminary recommendations of the
WWW Style Committee, in the following order:
This document is stored in /afs/slac.stanford.edu/www/slac/www/wwwtech/wwwstyle/draftreport.html.
It is recognized that the Web has been a part of communications
technology and publishing for the past two years and that much has
changed in that short a time. Much more is likely to change in the
next few years as well. The recommendations listed below form a
snapshot of current opinion, and are subject to review in the future
to test their validity and make modifications based on new
- Part 1:
- Overview and operational definitions
- Part 2:
- The charge to the group, recommendations, and rationale, and
- Part 3:
- Other issues not mentioned in the charge, but deemed relevant to the
Web at SLAC.
We recognize that page owners volunteer their time to design
and maintain Web pages, so our intention is to encourage some
degree of institutional consistency for SLAC Web pages yet at
the same time allow for departmental and individual
differences in page design. We have relied greatly on
the many design features previously developed by the WWW
Technical Committee, and especially Joan Winters as the
designer of the SLAC core pages (see Operational Definitions
below), among others.
The following definitions are used in this document:
- Web page
- An HTML file viewable on the World Wide Web (WWW).
- SLAC Web page
- A Web page that lives on a SLAC computer.
- home page(s)
- A page or pages which constitute the intentional entry point(s)
into a group/department/organization/institution's page space on the WWW.
- core pages
- A primary group of pages, including a home page or pages which
provide links to other pages in the space. The SLAC "core pages"
reflect the three-page model described in the text following
Charge #3 below.
- The individual(s) responsible for providing and maintaining
information on a page. This will usually be the person or people
who implement(s) the page, but in some cases the owner and the person
who generates the HTML file may be distinct. Multiple owners
as well as primary/secondary owners may be appropriate.
Charge #1 and Charge #2
The organizational identification of all SLAC Web pages including
what required elements, if any, are needed and
The minimum requirement for identification such as a standard
We recommend five required elements for Web pages at SLAC:
- page owner
- modification date
- institutional identifier (graphic or text)
- "legal notices" such as disclaimer, copyright, privacy statement
Elements 1 and 2: Owner and Date
The page owner and modification date are both purely practical
elements. With ownership of a page, there is a person accountable
internally for the information and its accuracy, and externally as a
contact regarding feedback from readers. Information posted reflects
the intelligence, integrity and competence of the owner and of SLAC as
an institution. Therefore, we recommend that all page owners consult
others such as computing czars, Web contact persons, and other page
owners to ensure that page(s) reflect well on both the individual and
The modification date provides information to the reader reflecting
the currency of information.
Date and ownership may be placed on the top or bottom of a page and we
recommend that the
/owner script (exemplified on the SLAC
Template Page) or some functional equivalent be used for
representing page ownership. The advantages of using the SLAC
/owner script are:
- the information generated by the script is drawn from a centrally
maintained database, and
- use of the script facilitates keeping track of all SLAC page
owners for the purpose of disseminating important information
relating to page ownership at SLAC.
Element 3: Institutional Identifier(s)
Institutional identifiers provide a graphical and/or textual means of
name recognition. They provide the reader with a navigational context
and give the page an aesthetic quality. We recommend that an icon or
the word "SLAC" be used on every SLAC home page as a link to the SLAC
Institutional Page, and that other divisions or department pages
contain an analogous icon or word as a link to their respective
Element 4: Titles and headers
As part of good HTML practice, all pages should have a title. A page's
title and the text in its header material (which may appear in a
prominent graphic element like a banner and/or the first h1 on the page)
should be consistent. Every SLAC Home Page (see "Operational Definitions," above) should have the word "SLAC" in
This helps recognition and aids in information retrieval using automated
Element 5: Legal information
Legal information such as disclaimers, privacy statements, and/or copyright are a part of doing business as a DOE facility. We recommend that a pointer to
these items be placed on SLAC core pages as a routine matter.
In summary, all SLAC Web pages should have owner, date, consistent
titles/headers, and an institutional identifier. For all SLAC
home pages, the institutional identifier should be "SLAC" (or graphic
equivalent), and its title should contain the word "SLAC". All SLAC
core pages (see discussion of SLAC core pages below) should in addition
have a link to the standard disclaimer.
(The Committee recognizes that this issue may need further clarification
with the SLAC Counsel.)
The structure of SLAC core pages and what links should exist
(N.B. The original text of the Committee's charge referred to
the "SLAC Institutional Home Page" and the "working page."
The Committee has chosen to view both the institutional page and
the home page(s) as necessary parts of the "core" pages (see below),
and have structured its recommendations correspondingly.)
We recommend a three-page model for the
SLAC core pages, as described below.
The core pages at SLAC consist of
(1) an institutional, or "brochure" page, and a pair of working home pages:
(2) a "sparse" home page and (3) a "dense" home page
The "Institutional Page" contains general information considered to be
primarily of interest to visitors to SLAC WWW space,
while the home pages provide information that is more oriented
towards SLAC users, although it is recognized that there may
be considerable overlap between these two broadly defined user categories.
Since the Institutional Page creates SLAC's most public-oriented presence
on the Web, it is appropriate for this page to contain more graphics
than the two working home pages would.
The "Sparse Home Page" (and its related pages) functions like a top-level,
generalized table of contents to SLAC WWW space, while the "Dense Home Page" is a more exhaustive, index-like reference page. The current production SLAC
Home Page is an example of a "dense" home page.
The proposed sparse page would consist primarily of the top-level
entries from the dense home page, which in turn link to single HTML
pages containing all the links under that heading on the
The evolution of the dual home-page scheme is a response to user feedback and much discussion among the Style Committee members that indicates that there are legitimate preferences for both types of access to SLAC's rich information space.
Ideally, a script should be written which is run to generate/update
the sparse home page and its related pages from the dense home page,
to minimize maintenance efforts, as well as to ensure informational
consistency across both sparse and dense pages.
Development of such a script requires more study.
Experienced Web users can set their browsers to default to whichever page best suits their needs.
It remains to be decided which of the three SLAC core pages (institutional,
sparse home page, or dense home page) should be designated to come up in
response to the request http://www.slac.stanford.edu/. The question
is, do we
- accommodate the SLAC user and therefore
have the default URL (http://www.slac.stanford.edu/) present the sparse or
dense page, with prominent links to the institutional page and the
other home page, or do we
- accommodate the "general web user" and have the default URL present the
more general institutional page first, with prominent links to both the
sparse and the dense home pages, which are more oriented towards members
of the SLAC community?
Guidelines for organization of Web pages, i.e., best practice
approach to structuring page content.
Pages can be organized at the owner's discretion.
This is a subjective debate, based largely on the owner's point of view and the page content; however, there are two key items to keep in mind. One is that the longer the file, and the more graphics, the more time is takes to transfer over the network; second, some people may not be patient with scrolling more than 2-3 pages. We suggest that the page owner:
- Use the five elements as indicated above,
- Solicit feedback from others regarding content organization, and
- Consult style guides currently in use, especially those available
via SLAC WWW
Resources Page and other standard texts, such as the
The Chicago Manual of Style.
The Style Committee recommends that a small, representative group of
people be appointed by the Associate
Director of the Research Division,
to serve as a Web Policy Group. Those chosen should represent as
many different groups from the lab as possible.
Given the choice between anarchy on the Web and some form of
regulation, we opt for minimal regulation. We recognize the
individuality of persons and the culture of groups departments which
mitigate against any regulation. However, we also feel that the external
audience of the Web makes a strong case for some ultimate authority on
policy issues which may impact SLAC as an institution.
We need to communicate issues about the Web. At some point we may
need some mechanism for enforcement of some policy or procedure.
Given this point of view, we recommend an on-going policy group
with the authority to do the following:
It is assumed that the WWW Technical Committee will continue. We also
recommend that the WWW Style Committee become a standing
committee, in recognition that emerging style conventions and
evolving technological standards are far from static.
In addition, this standing committee would then be able to build on the
common conceptual ground established so far.
Both Style and Technical Committees should report to the Policy Group, and
members of each of these committees will also serve on the Policy
- Establish policy on Web issues.
- Disseminate Web information regularly, including encouraging the use
of recommended practices.
- Resolve conflicts.
- Appoint sub-groups to discuss special issues as they arise.
Input to the Policy Group is expected to be from a variety of sources such
as page owners, the WWW Technical and Style Committees, and other
groups, like the [Go Back to the Top]
Thu Apr 13 19:34:00 PDT 1995