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Web Design Approach of the City University of Hong Kong Website

Overall Web Design Philosophy

The launch of the new CityU HomePage and the consolidation of the various web facilities into the e-Portal represent a major new development in the University's web-based information and services delivery. The main goal is to present information and services to users from their perspectives, thus eliminating the unfavourable impression that our web-based systems are all disjointed and it is up to the users to get to the right page for the right information on their own accord.

design philosophyThe diagram illustrates the design philosophy of the CityU website. In the centre circle are public announcements and information that the University makes freely available on the web as these are of interests to everyone who comes to our website. External visitors, students and staff will all see these announcements. In addition, students can log on to the private section (e-Portal) of the University's website and receive announcements and services that are targeted at them. This is shown in the diagram by drawing the next circle, the students circle, around the previous one. Extending this philosophy to the next level, the staff circle encompasses both previous circles. Any staff member of the University should be interested in students' work and activities, thus announcements to notify students of events and activities will also be made known to all staff members within the e-Portal. Beyond the three concentric circles, specific groups of people, like members of University committees will have secured access to web pages designated for them.

This layered structure of information/services delivery with each successive layer encompassing the previous ones frees us from the old design of vertical silos that artificially separate information and services into those for outsiders only, students only or staff only. Furthermore, the management and maintenance of the contents on our website have also been streamlined and simplified.

Guidelines for the CityU Chinese Web

As the official language of the University is English, the CityU website is predominantly an English site with the majority of pages written in English only.
A Chinese web has been developed to supplement or as auxiliary to our English website. These Chinese web pages are not necessarily direct translations of the English pages; many of them are complementary descriptions of the University, the departments/units, or particular events and activities written in Chinese.

The Chinese web pages are designed so that they can be viewed in either traditional or simplified Chinese fonts. To standardize development efforts, Unicode is used for internal coding of the Chinese web. The contents of the pages are developed using the traditional Chinese font, and conversion into the simplified font is made "on the fly" with the help of appropriate software. The following points provide a simple guide to Chinese web pages construction:

  1. The Chinese web pages are auxiliary to our English website, not necessarily direct translation of the main pages.
  2. Unicode is used as the internal code.
  3. Pages are developed in traditional Chinese fonts and converted to the simplified one "on the fly" with software.
  4. Each department must decide whether to use English or Chinese as the preferred language for its web pages.
  5. With one language chosen as the preferred, an introduction to the department in the other language must be included as an auxiliary page

The diagram below using links to administrative departments as examples further illustrates the role of the Chinese web to supplement the University's main website.

supplement

A link will be provided from the CityU HomePage to a Chinese auxiliary "homepage" having an introduction to the University as well as explaining the language policy used in the CityU website. All links from this auxiliary homepage will be in Chinese. From the HomePage, users are expected to follow the English links to get the English pages, while from the auxiliary Chinese homepage; Chinese links should be followed to get Chinese pages. As the Chinese pages are meant to be supplementary, as users drill down through the Chinese links, eventually they will reach the end of the Chinese pages provision, at which point they will be referred to the English pages by reference links.