Skip to page content

Appropriate File Usage on Websites

Presentation files, spreadsheets, and documents are easy to create, since we are more familiar with editing them, however, these types of documents are not always appropriate for the web. This goes back to your goals for your webpage or website.

If the content you are providing in the document is basically content someone might read on a webpage, you should opt for using a webpage. There are many reasons why:

  1. Speed: Webpages are easier and faster to load on all devices and browsers.
  2. Compatibility: Webpages are compatible on all devices and browsers, unlike documents that require software or apps to be installed on them.
  3. Accessibility: Webpages are more accessible to individuals with disabilities or impairments.
  4. Robust: Webpages are easier to view, more readable and legible, on all devices and browsers.
  5. User Experience: Webpages are the expected format for viewing informational or instructional content.

When Files are Appropriate

Some exceptions apply, including

  • resumes or CVs, which should be in Adobe PDF documents
  • complex tables, which should be in spreadsheet documents
  • complex instructions with images, which should be in Adobe PDF documents, ensuring the images have alternative text embedded and a defined reading order
  • large handbooks or manuals, which should be in Adobe PDF documents, also ensuring the images have alternative text embedded should any exist
  • forms, which should typically be in Adobe PDF documents
  • documents that absolutely must be printed, such as parking passes or coupons

Note the exception regarding what must be printed. Most content on the web is not expected to be printed off, since the users desire to interact with it in the moment. Printable documents such as posters, flyers, and schedules are not recommended for the web for this reason, in addition to the fact that most users also have to pay to print documents. Users are not printing posters off and hanging them in their rooms or offices. This content is also not as accessible as other alternatives for viewing online.

Using Integrated Services Instead of Files

Web Services recommends you provide all poster, flyer, and schedule content through our integrated services. One of our integrated services is a calendar system that:

  • allows us to filter your events via group, category, tag, and/or keyword on your webpage or a custom calendar view
  • allows your users to add events to their calendars without typing anything in
  • allows your users to share your events on social media or email
  • allows your users to subscribe to your calendars for future event content
  • allows you and an unlimited number of Tarleton employees to maintain and manage events on your own calendar group or groups
  • allows you to maintain basic RSVP processes for each of your events

This calendar system is in the top 10 used areas of the Tarleton website, garnering almost 4% of our entire website's usage in 2017 and continues to increase. It has also been one of the most sought out areas of content on departmental websites by all of our focus groups.

Since the calendar system is in the form of a webpage, it is acceptable for use as a link in your website's navigation. However, documents are not recommended in the navigation, as mentioned in the previous reasons for using webpages versus documents. Users do not expect to be opening documents from selecting a menu option in your navigation. This throws them off and may discourage them from using your website, especially if they are in an area where downloading speeds are low, since documents take so much more time to load.

Please also note that the Tarleton website is primarily for marketing purposes. Your lecture content and presentations should be placed in a secure area, such as a learning management system (e.g. Blackboard) where no one should steal your copyrighted content. Zip files are allowed primarily at the request of professors providing course materials, but they are discouraged due to the higher risk for viruses and other malicious code they might accidentally contain.

File Requirements and Restrictions

Documents allowed on the Tarleton website include:

  • Word documents (.doc, .docx)
  • Excel documents (.xls, .xlsx)
  • PowerPoint documents (.ppt, .pptx, .pps, .ppsx)
  • Adobe PDF documents (.pdf)
  • Text files (.txt)
  • Zip files (.zip)

They must be less than 10 MB (or 10,000 kilobytes, KB) in size to be placed in Cascade. Contact Web Services about handling larger files.

The Tarleton website and Cascade CMS are not set up for storage purposes. Keep your original files in a place where your web maintainers and others who can update them have access. Old and inaccurate files left on the website can cause confusion for your users and lower your SEO ranking.

Additionally, webpages should not be built to specifically point to a document. Documents should be placed on relevant pages that describe processes or information.