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This page is part of the California Department of Education (CDE) Web Design Standards, which only applies to specific CDE Web sites. Visit the CDE Web Standards to determine if these standards apply to a specific Web product (Web site, Web page, Web document, or Web application) that has been developed by or for the CDE.

Most Web pages (not including Web applications) on all CDE Web sites are created using Adobe's Contribute software templates. WebNETS, which is a custom software application that was created by CDE staff, is also necessary in order to create and process most Web pages on the CDE's public Internet site. Portions of these standards, where noted, apply only to CDE users of Contribute or WebNETS software; or to Web application developers.

Return to Design Standards

Related to Web pages and documents, a “description” usually refers to a portion of content that defines the content of the page or document. The description defines Web page or document content concisely, but is more expansive than the title. For more information on titles, see the Titles Section of these Design Standards.

For Web pages and documents, descriptions can reside in two places.

  • As a visible description at the top of the Web page or document. Most CDE Web pages have visible page descriptions directly under the Web page title and most CDE Web documents do not have a visible page description at all.
  • As a metadata description contained in the hidden or background area of the Web page or document. In a Web page, the metadata description is found within the HTML code and in a Web document, the metadata title (sometimes referred to as the Subject) is found in the properties area.

CDE Web pages (including Main and Logon Web application pages) and Web documents must have at least a metadata description. Exceptions include all other Web application pages and any other Web pages or documents that are excluded from search results.

For CDE Web pages and documents, a description must:

  • Be exactly the same (or very similar) when the visible and metadata page descriptions for a particular Web page or document are compared. In some instances, the visible and metadata descriptions are forced to be exactly the same because they are derived from the same place, such as the WebNETS system or a database.
  • Not be exactly the same as the Web page or document title. Descriptions must be more expansive and more completely define the content of the Web page or document.
  • Be unique or different from other Web pages and documents of the same file type anywhere on the CDE Web site.
  • Be between 45 and 250 characters, which include spaces and punctuation. Usually a complete sentence is most appropriate, but multiple sentences are acceptable, as well as sentence fragments when they are necessary.
  • Use sentence case formatting and end with a period (.) even if they use a sentence fragment.
  • Use standard formatting styles and colors, except that they may use italics only where a particular word or phrase is required to be italicized by the CDE Style Manual or the CDE Correspondence Guide. For example, Education Code.
  • Follow other specific standards if the Web page or document is funding related or part of the Clearinghouse for Multilingual Documents (CMD):
    • If funding-related, follow the Funding Standards.
    • If part of the CMD, follow the Parental Notification Documents section of these Design Standards.

For CDE Web pages and documents, a description should also:

    • Introduce abbreviations and acronyms in parenthesis after they are spelled-out first, especially if there were not enough characters to do so in the title. When abbreviations and acronyms have not been introduced in the title or description, they must be introduced at the earliest appropriate opportunity in the content of the page or document.
    • Include important keywords close to the beginning of the description, or to each other. This will increase the page or document ranking in search results.

Web Applications

HTML metadata page descriptions must be specified for main or login pages and for others if the page will be indexed by search engines. Use <meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow"> if the page is not a main or login page and should not be indexed.

Questions:   Web Services Office |
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, May 26, 2015

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