Website Support Clinic update – creating homepages

One of the key things discussed at this week’s Website Support Clinic was homepages and how to create one effectively using the new EdWeb CMS.

There are number of things to think about when creating/editing your site’s homepage, such as layout and use of images. Accessibility laws also mean that you will need to be familiar with alt text and how to use it. This post outlines a few of the more important aspects of the EdWeb homepage.

Using the Panelizer

More often than not, the homepage will be the first page that visitors land on, thus it is extremely important that it is easy to navigate. Unlike Polopoly, which used a set number of different homepages, EdWeb has a much more flexible approach. To change the layout, click on the Panelizer button in the top right-hand corner of the page, and there you will be able to drag and drop panels into any order you wish. There are several size ratios to choose from, allowing you to emphasise specific sections. If you would like to preview your changes, simply click on the Preview button at the bottom of the page.

The new Panelizer feature offers you greater flexibility and allows you to create a homepage that will meet all of your visitors’ needs. It might be worth taking the time to make sure that your summary sentences are of a similar length, so that they match up without any gaps. However, it is recommended that you do not spend too much time on this as different devices will display your homepage in different ways.

The carousel

If you would like to showcase multiple pieces of content in a single space, EdWeb now offers you the option of adding a carousel, which replaces the feature panel on the Polopoly dynamic homepage. The carousel differs from a regular panel as it will show several different content features  in a slideshow rather than as a single, static box . This can be a useful feature if you want to highlight detailed, featured content such as an event, news item or specific programme  on your homepage. We would advise against using more than one of these as this can be distracting for users.

It is important to note that you will only be able to link pages to the carousel that have an associated image. You can find out more about associated images on the EdWeb demonstration site:

EdWeb demonstration site

Images and alt text

If you want to create an attractive and engaging homepage, you will probably want to use at least a couple of images. Images are a great way to add colour and personality to your site and can also be used to convey more information to your visitors.

When adding images to the homepage, it is important that you give them the appropriate alt text in order to adhere to accessibility laws. This enables screen-reader users to access your site. If the image is a link, the alt text must be the same as the name of the link. For example, if you have a link on your homepage to a page about tuition fees, the alt text must be ‘Tuition Fees’.

A more comprehensive guide to homepages can be found on the EdWeb demonstration site along with a number of useful links.

If you would like to book a space at the Website Support Clinic (Tuesdays, 12-3pm) to discuss your website’s homepage or any other EdWeb/Polopoly related topic, please send an email to website.support@ed.ac.uk.

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