Cultivating Usability with OU Campus Custom Dictionaries

by Jazmyn Latimer on December 18, 2014

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Maintaining a large college or university website with numerous contributors, sites, and pages can be challenging, especially when it comes to consistency and standardization. One of the biggest hurdles to the usability of these big sites is in keeping an agreed upon vocabulary, naming, and labeling system. Content strategists, usability experts, and information architects all have one secret system for quelling this problem throughout their sites: controlled vocabularies. Our equivalent in OU Campus v10 is Custom Dictionaries with a new and improved user interface.

Custom Dictionaries is your campus’ knowledge base for agreed upon terminology (including: correct spellings, abbreviations, names, labels, and vocabulary) that can be easily referenced and edited so your users stay on the same page. We've given web teams more control and organization for their dictionary terms with the ability to have an Account Dictionary for common terms across all sites and a Site Dictionary for terms specific to each site. Site ViewWith Custom Dictionaries you’ll always have a dedicated vocabulary readily available for your growing web team. It will help increase the efficiency and collective effort of your website contributors and ensure that the website is usable and consistent for your visitors. Each dictionary also supports five different languages, which gives institutions the ability to keep track of translated or language specific terms. Administrators can go into the Account or Site Dictionary under Setup, pick the desired language, and add or edit the dictionary terms line by line. Not only do your users have a controlled vocabulary, but it saves your content editors time from having to correct terms in Spell Check that are actually institution specific.

Pro tips:  

  • Add to DictionaryUse Account Dictionary for broader terms that are consistent across all of your Sites
  • Use Site Dictionary for terms specific to the topic of that Site
  • To begin, add all of your commonly misspelled terms
  • Think about all of your abbreviations, acronyms, names, labels, and specialty terms and add those to your Custom Dictionaries
  • If you want to go the extra step, also think of synonyms and likely variations of all the terms you've listed and include those in your dictionaries as well
  • Translate your dictionaries across popularly used languages in your organization
  • Have members of your web team become familiar with your custom dictionary so everyone is using the same language and is on the same page
  • Review your custom dictionaries periodically and add new terms as they appear to you in your editing endeavors

Let us know how you’re using Custom Dictionaries and other features in OU Campus by joining our User Research contact list here

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