The Importance of Consistent Style Guides for Your Web Site

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Design consistency is a must in print communications. But consistent style guides for web sites are as important as they are for an organization’s print publications and advertising materials. In addition to assuring grammatical and syntactical consistency for your web site’s text-based information, web style guides should include rules on technical aspects of the medium that affect usability and visitor satisfaction. Here are some things to consider when trying to develop a web style guide.

1. A web style guide should impose consistency on such things as color, design, and use of logos.

2. Web style guides serve as institutional memory in an era of the revolving door of employment. A well-documented, official web style guide can easily be passed from one employee to the next.

3. Web style guides can help a company meet its legal responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

4. Companies may also find web style guides useful for distributed authoring of intranet sites.

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5. It is not often that style guides venture into the minutia of file naming conventions, probably because many communications professionals simply “don’t think about it.” File naming convention comes out of the tech side of the web, the software development side. Nevertheless, both the Federal Communication Commission and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development have published their conventions. It may be something to discuss with the individuals handling the technical side of your web site, whether they’re in-house or you use contract with an outside firm.

6. Another overlooked (technical) aspect of web style guides is the policy regarding default contents pages for web site directories. Conforming to standard web site naming convention makes it very easy for a site visitor to reach the table of contents page and find a file after it had been renamed.

This article, written by Kathy Gill, originally appeared in PR Fuel (, a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit:

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