Understanding how fixed regulations at the University like Accessibility legislation, Corporate Identity and Copyright have an important and necessary effect on your design choices.
Try this practical for the fictional department of Astrobiology to help you think about how to design a Web Site.
When you are designing a site to use within the University of Leicester environment a major factor affecting how your site will ultimately look is the Corporate Identity. The corporate identity requires certain features appear in your site's design but is hopefully not so restrictive that you will not have the opportunity to be creative.
Basically, there are three levels of corporate identity and which you should use is dependent on which category you fall into:
Standard corporate identity - which applies to all depts, offices, schools, centres and outward facing pages - this consists of the University Logo in the top left hand corner, the bottom navigation bar and information about the Web Maintainer responsible for the pages and the when the pages were last updated.
Joint project identity - which applies to projects, initiatives, centres which are joint ventures between the University of Leicester and some other group - this consists of both parties logos displayed in some form where neither is given greater status than the other. There is no requirement for a bottom navigation bar.
Hosted by University of Leicester - which applies to external groups, societies, research projects who have been given permission to use University Web space to host their sites and usually have some indirect/direct link to the university via a member of staff. The only requirement here is the inclusion of a 'hosted by' button that links to the University of Leicester homepage.
Corporate Identity template pages can be found on the Corporate ID Web pages .
With the implementation of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA), from September 2002, it is now a legal requirement to take steps to ensure your Web Site is accessible to disabled people.
Many Web users may be operating in contexts very different from your own. They may have a disability, or be using an different operating system or have a slow Internet connection. It's therefore your responsibility as the Web Site creator to incorporate accessibility into your design. You can find more complete information about accessibility on our accessibility page.
To summarise what you need to consider from a design point of view:
Context and Compatibility - the user may not be using the same monitor size, screen resolution, Web browser or even computer type (i.e. Mac or PC) as you so don't assume that if you design something that looks good on your machine that it will look good on everyone else's. Test your site design whilst you are creating it on as many different machines as you can. See what it looks like on a Mac. See what it looks like on another browser i.e. Internet explorer, Netscape, Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, etc.
Legibility - try to make the visual content on your pages clear and legible. This includes some of the stuff already discussed in this design section on making text and backgrounds contrast, but in addition means that you should think about using colours that aren't going to confuse someone with colour blindness and text that makes words hard to identify i.e. writing in capital letters only, using incredibly small lettering and using script fonts.
Speed - not everyone has a high speed connection to the internet. Some users of your site are likely to have modem dial-up access only (56k) which means that if you use large files i.e. graphics and other media, in your site design you'll make it difficult or impossible for some people to view your site. Photos and images need to be optimised. Presentations and documents also need to be made as small as possible. It's worth bearing in mind that 1 megabyte (mb) of information would take 4 minutes to download on a steady dial-up modem connection.
Most people aren't going to want to wait more than a minute or so for a page to download, which would suggest a limit of 256 kb per page (but this is high - most Web pages are only a few kb in size). There are some exceptions to this rule - one being if you know for definite that all your audience will have a high speed connection and download times are not a problem - the other is if you need to have high definition files/images to download i.e. satellite images or electron microscope images - in this case it is probably sensible to split the images off from the main pages and make them available as an optional download.
You have to be really careful when designing a site that none of the content (i.e. photos, images, text) that you use infringe the rules on Copyright. In a its most basic form you must not:
"Make, transmit or store an electronic copy of copyright material on the University's computing services without the permission of the owner."
The University's Internet Code of Practice states that:
The Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 is applicable to all types of creations, including text, graphics and sounds by an author or an artist. This will include any which are accessible through the University's computing services. Any unloading or downloading of information through on-line technologies which is not authorised by the copyright owner will be deemed to be an infringement of his/her rights
The application of the Copyright Act to electronic copying is even stricter than its application to photocopying, since the fair dealing arrangements which usually apply to libraries (i.e. one article per journal for the purposes of research or private study) do not exist for computerised materials.
Some types of infringement give rise to criminal offences, the penalties for which may amount to up to two years' imprisonment or an unlimited fine. It is also possible for the copyright owner to claim compensation or to have infringing activities prevented by injunction.
The University of Leicester Copyright Notice