Web Site Development

Web Standards & Guidelines 

The Web standards and guidelines apply to all content that is on the Montgomery College Web Content Management System (CMS) and available to users at http://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/.  If your content is not yet on the CMS, see the standards and guidelines for non-CMS content.

As with all Montgomery College computing resources, Web content is subject to the Acceptable Use Policy

Benefits of Standards
About CMS Templates
Standards & Guidelines
Additional Resources  

Benefits of Standards

Standards ensure that information published on the Montgomery College Web site:

  • is easily navigable and accessible by all users
  • is accurate and current
  • accurately represents the College’s identity and brand

The standards and guidelines are periodically reviewed and updated. 


About CMS Templates

All CMS templates enforce the design and location of the MC logo, main navigation, secondary navigation, footer, etc.  Styles for fonts, headings, tables, etc. are also built into the templates and should be applied as stated in the Style Guide for Web Content Managers.  Templates are maintained by the OIT Web Services Team. 

Each template contains regions where Web content managers can add/edit content. For example, these are the editable regions of the .edu Department template:

Department Template - editable regions



Standards & Guidelines


  1. Use relative links to link to content on the Montgomery College site.

    Example: /edu/tertiary1.aspx?urlid=67 instead of http://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/edu/tertiary1.aspx?urlid=67 

  2. Clearly identify the target of each link.  Link text should be meaningful when read out of context.

    Schedule your tour of the Germantown Campus” instead of “Click here to schedule a tour of the Germantown Campus.”

  3. Open all links that point to non-MC content in new windows, using target=_blank.*

  4. Label links that open a downloadable file (e.g., files other than Web pages – Word documents, Excel files).  Place the label at the end of the link and indicate the type of file, followed by the size.* 

    Style Guide (PDF – 623 KB)



  1. Ensure that content on your pages functions in commonly used Internet browsers – Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari.



  1. Apply the standard styles for images, headings, bullets, borders, and tables, as specified in the .edu Style Guide.

  2. Do not underline text solely for emphasis (users may mistake underlined text for a link).*

  3. Avoid using background images.  If you use a background image, be sure the text is legible against the background.*

  4. Do not boldface or italicize your entire text; it decreases readability.*



  1. If content you would like to include on your page (e.g., academic calendar, course descriptions, calendar) has already been posted to the CMS (even if posted by another college unit), link directly to it instead of posting another copy of the content.  This will prevent duplication of content and version control issues.

  2. Review your content frequently to ensure it is accurate and current.

  3. Refer to the Montgomery College Style Guide (Word - 417 KB) and the Chicago Manual of Style for standards on abbreviation, capitalization, and spelling.

    Examples of commonly used words and their standard spellings:
    e-mail instead of email or Email
    Web instead of  web
    World Wide Web instead of world wide web
    Web site instead of website or web site
    Web-based instead of web-based
    Web-related instead of web-related

  4. Add metadata to content.*

  5. Upload audio and video content to the MC Podcast Directory and embed the multimedia in your content.  Do not upload multimedia content directly to the CMS.*

  6. Consider the characteristics, goals, and needs of the intended users when writing content.*

  7. Use short, descriptive headings and bullets to chunk content so users can find what they need by scanning the page.*

  8. Provide complete phone numbers in the following format:  XXX-XXX-XXXX.  Do not list only the extension.* 

    240-567-7222 instead of x77222 or (240) 567-7222

  9. Provide e-mail links in one of two formats: emailaddress@montgomerycollege.edu or name (where “name” represents the functional name of the e-mail address that is hyperlinked).* 

    webmaster@montgomerycollege.edu or OIT Web Team instead of e-mail us 

*Items marked with an * are guidelines.



Montgomery College supports accessibility of College Web sites to all users, including people with disabilities using assistive technology. To promote accessibility, the College will use Federal Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology (36 CFR §1194.21-.22).

The 508 standards are listed below with links to a tutorial to assist developers in applying the Standards.

  1. text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc", or in element content).
  2. Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation.
  3. Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup.
  4. Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.
  5. Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map. (Note: Montgomery College Web sites do not use server-side image maps.)
  6. Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape.
  7. Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables.
  8. Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.
  9. Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.
  10. Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz (2 to 55 flashes per second).
  11. text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes.
  12. When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.
  13. When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with §1194.21(a) through (l).
  14. When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.
  15. A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.
  16. When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.


Additional Resources

.edu Style Guide for Content Managers (PDF - 623 KB)
Details on the standard styles for images, headings, bullets, borders, tables, etc.

Montgomery College Style Guide (Word - 420 KB)
Standards for using abbreviations, displaying the Montgomery College logo, etc.

The Chicago Manual of Style
The standard style guide for writers and editors at Montgomery College

Plain Language.gov
Why writing with plain language on the Web is important and how to do it

Beyond Blah Blah: Creating Great Content for the Web (New City) (PDF - 3.1 MB)
How to define the top goals of your audiences; link and organize pages so users can find the content they need; structure the content and layout of pages to support scanning, understanding, and retention; and write Web content that motivates users to act

Resources on planning and designing sites using researched methods

Health and Human Services – section 508
A resource on section 508 compliance (accessibility) and Web standards