In order to create a satisfying user experience, all official Penn websites should follow best practices and accessibility standards. Here are a few guidelines that can help you in the creation of your site.

Best Practices

  • Keep navigation consistent throughout the site. Users should always be able to return easily to your homepage and to other major navigation points in the site, including the main Penn website.
  • Divide your information into clearly defined sections.
  • Use logical naming convention for page headers (H1, H2, H3, etc.), menu labels and web addresses. Always use proper semantic markup for your web content.
  • Ensure that all images include an "ALT" tag and height and width information, so that nonvisual users with screen reader software will have some indication of the presence and presence and nature of your visual content.
  • Provide contacts for site owners somewhere within your site.
  • Links should be created using text that makes sense when read out of context. For example, avoid "click here."
  • Understand the importance of search usability and search engine optimization (SEO) Learn more about SEO at and
  • Always check your work using a validator such as the W3C Markup Validation Service. Style sheets can be validated using the W3C CSS Validation Service

Additional tips can be found in the Google Webmaster Guidelines and in and the 3rd edition of the Web Style Guide Online.


The University of Pennsylvania Websites are accessed and used by a diverse group of people within the USA and around the globe. Some of our users, including students, prospective students, and employees, have visual or hearing impairments that create challenges in accessing Websites and require the use of assistive technologies such as screen readers and text-only browsers. Further, others users of Penn Websites may be using outmoded technology in another country, or have very slow connection speeds compared with current state-of-the art technology.

The University of Pennsylvania is committed to providing equal access to information, programs and activities by making our web pages accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. 1

This page provides resources and guidance to schools, departments and individuals involved in developing and maintaining a University of Pennsylvania supported website.

Web accessibility refers to a goal of inclusive website development based on the concept that information on the Web should be available to all people, regardless of physical or developmental abilities or impairments. Examples of accessible web practices include:

  • Using a clean, consistent design to benefit people with learning or cognitive disabilities
  • Providing text equivalents for pictures and graphs for people who use screen-reader technology to access the site
  • Captioning videos to benefit people who are deaf or hearing-impaired
  • Designing a site to ensure it can be navigated with keyboard controls for people who cannot hold a mouse

More information on web accessibility and Section 508 compliance is available at: 

1 In addition,  Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act "no otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance". This includes colleges and universities.

The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against any qualified individual in areas such as employment, public services, public accommodations, telecommunications and others.

The ADA and Section 504 require colleges and universities to make their services accessible to individuals with disabilities. This means that services offered over the Web should, to the extent possible, be made accessible either through the Web site or in some alternate format. Making the Web site itself accessible is the most direct and efficient way to comply and is in keeping with the guidance provided by the United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.


Questions about what the law requires in specific situations, including accessibility issues, should be addressed to the Office of General Counsel at 215-746-5200.