Module Best Practices

We utilize usability and accessibility guidelines when developing module content on your site. View guidelines for the following modules:

Agenda Center


The Agenda Center offers an uncomplicated way to create and display agendas for various civic organizations. The Agenda Center can create agenda templates for repeated use, work flows to ensure agenda accuracy, and allow for entering minutes directly into each agenda. This functionality is combined with the ability to customize both the creation and organization of the Agenda Center.
  • The Agenda Center should house the current year and future agendas, minutes, and packets.
  • House up to five years at most. All other agendas, minutes, and packets should be moved to the archive center.
  • Use the name of the board or committee as the category title.
  • CivicPlus will pull over 12 months worth of agendas, minutes, and packets from your content due date. You may add more during training.
  • When linking to the agenda center category you have the option to link to the category or link to the most recent agenda. This is most helpful on boards and commissions pages.

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Archive Center


Documents housed in the Archive Center should only be used for multiple documents that are submitted periodically, like monthly and annual reports, newsletters, etc. This is different from the Document Center, which is for storing supporting information for pages and enhancing existing content.

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Document Center


The Document Center should be used as a storage area for all documents on your site that do not need to be organized by date (these types of documents should be stored in the Archive Center). Use folders with useful and specific names to make things easier for both internal and external users.

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Facilities


The Facilities and Reservations module should be used to list 'profiles' of facilities and their amenities. Each facility listing can have a reservation form to reserve / book the facility. The Facilities and Reservation module will also work with the Events Calendar module to display the location of an event in the Facilities and Reservations module.
  • Answer citizen questions through the website by detailing available amenities at each location.
  • Organize facilities by category, making it most intuitive for citizens.
  • Provide contact information, facility details, and hours of operation.
  • The Facilities iPhone App offers the convenience of providing an avenue for citizens to get directions, view amenities, and make reservations without needing direct access to your website. This means it is important to provide need-to-know information for quick access.
  • Save residents' time by providing cost amounts and allowing for reservations through your website.
  • Showcase parks and community spaces from the local area. 

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FAQs


Place frequently asked questions into this module to make these items easy for users to find and easy for you to update.
  • Relate FAQ categories to relevant pages on your site so users can consistently find FAQs in the feature column.
  • We recommend 15 or less FAQs per category. If you have more, we recommend breaking the FAQs up into subcategories based on the subject.
  • If possible, name categories using simple language related to the subject of the FAQs rather than using departments, divisions, etc. For example, users will have an easier time finding information on when to put their trash out under a category named "Trash Pickup" rather than "Public Utilities."
  • Use a question-and-answer (Q&A) format - this is what users will be familiar with when looking at FAQs.
  • Make sure your answers provide enough information for users to solve their problem, or give them another path to a solution (links to other resources, contact info, etc.). Avoid one-word answers.
  • For answers that require a great amount of detail or content not supported by the FAQs module (tables, images, etc.), use a brief version of the answer if possible and link to a hidden page containing the full answer.

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Form Center


The Form Center should be used to create online-fillable forms that can be customized to look similar to a paper form and have the option to complete online and submit, print, or submit and print the form.
  • Name the form to be specific and intuitive of its function / purpose. 
  • Enter a description of the form to be referenced by users when viewing the Form Center category level or search results. 
  • Set the form to ‘Submit and Print’ to make the form as versatile as possible. 
  • If necessary, create a custom confirmation page for users to see after submitting the form. 
  • The ‘Submit To’ field designates which email addresses the form will be submitted to. Enter an internal email address to receive an email when a form is submitted.
  • The ‘Force Login’ field option requires users to log in before submitting a form. Selecting this option will help build your list of engaged citizens.
  • Collect submitted form answers by making the form a 'database form'. Using ‘Save to Database’ keeps a database of all submitted responses within the system and allows you to export that data to other applications. 
  • Use dynamic page breaks. Page break functionality divides up the form into multiple pages. 
  • Create / use ‘filed sets’ that are groups of fields such as an address block (which might include first and last name, street address, city, state, zip code) and save time by just dragging them onto the form. 
  • Create simple conditions (show, hide or require fields depending on how a user responds to other questions, or redirecting the user to another form / page depending on how they answer a question). 
  • Add internal / administration fields that are filled in on the admin panel (not visible to the public). 
  • Throughout the website, link to a specific form category or individual form instead of linking to the module as a whole.

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Info Advanced


Info Advanced is an area on the website that is created for special features such as a mayor's corner, contact information boxes, spotlights, etc.
  • Relate info advanced categories to relevant pages on your site so users can consistently find contact information or spotlights in the feature column. This also gives you more room in the main content area for text.
  • When using as a contact box, use a 150 x 200 pixel photo. Be sure to include an alt tag.
  • Follow site standards for site consistency.
  • Do not use clip art.
  • Use subheads to create a hierarchy of information.
  • Keep this area short and sweet. If you need additional information, link to a page, PDF, module item, etc.

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Photo Gallery

The Photo Gallery module displays photos by albums. Each album can be viewed picture-by-picture or by slideshow. Web users can vote on their favorite pictures by giving a photo a thumbs up or email their favorites albums, pictures, etc. by clicking on the 'Send An Email' button.
  • Name and caption your photos appropriately, and provide as much useful information for your residents as possible.
  • Remember to use appropriate alt. text for all of your photos - this will ensure that you are following usability standards.
  • Logos should be Illustrator EPS or IA vector files or large, clean 72-dpi JPGs at least 8 inches wide or tall on the longest edge.
  • Photos should be 72-dpi JPGs at a minimum of 14 inches wide or tall on the longest edge.
  • Photos that are 300-dpi EPS files are also acceptable with the longest edge being at least five inches.

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Quick Links


Quick Links are usually represented on websites as “resources” or “helpful links” and include links to third-party websites, documents, or pages in other sections of the website.
  • Relate Quick Link categories to relevant pages on your site so users can consistently find links in the feature column. This also gives you more room in the main content area for text.
  • If possible, name categories using simple language related to the subject of the Quick Links rather than using departments, divisions, etc. For example, use a category named "Election Information" instead of one named "County Clerk" and users will better understand what links they will find in that category.

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Staff Directory


The Staff Directory module is a list of contact information for the organization. Each listing can have a title, email address, phone number, photo, and biography.
  • Categories should be organized alphabetically.
  • Give the category a name. This will usually be the department / division name, the board or committee, City Council, etc. If you have general department information that applies to this category, populate the appropriate fields.
  • Items within categories should be organized alphabetically as well.
  • Populate the fields with all the available information. If you do not have information for a certain field, skip it.
  • When adding an item with a photo and a biography, see the following instructions and guidelines.

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