Brand Identity & Visual Standards

Guidelines for creating UofL-branded marketing materials and websites

Structure & Context

At all times, it must be assumed that visitors to websites are not familiar with the organization, and as such, care should be given to provide a way-finding experience that is clear, helpful and reassuring.

Likewise, visitors to sites already possess a basic understanding of our organization so utility and efficiency become top priority. Since both endeavors must result in successful outcomes, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our site architecture.

The structure of our web content comes in the forms of:

The implementation of this structural foundation by a central office (OCM) ensures a clear, consistent navigation path for our users.

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Information Architecture

Good information architecture (IA) arranges pieces of content in a way that is easily understandable. The scope of a website’s architecture helps inform the building of good navigation, a great user interface and a positive user experience.

The organization of content for the homepage, top-tier and subsequent sites must be arranged to be understandable to our primary external audiences. Because of this, our site is not intended to be organized by institutional or organizational structure/process.

Beginning in 2020, sites will begin the transition (through splitting of marketing and operational sites) to a more structured, audience-focused IA in an effort to help create a uniform user experience. The goal is to create an architecture that maximizes the number of users that are able to easily navigate and using a basic understanding of web standards and common sense.

At present, UofL colleges, schools, departments and other sites create and maintain their own navigation. The following are guidelines to help aid in this work:


When constructing your navigation and the architecture of your site, group content into related areas and keep the topmost navigation level to a manageable amount (recommended as under eight links). This allows users to employ a drill-down method of navigation that is intuitive and natural.

Be sure to place critical content such as contact links or helpful information in easily found areas—homepage, footer or top-level navigation. Users should not have to search for this content.

Sub-sites of must include an easily-found link back to if approved for exemption from using official university web templates.

UofL websites must use plain-speak, curated navigation and provide methods of contact that are easy for the end user to discover. For example, do not use confusing navigation titles (e.g. “tools of the trade”). Instead, choose common titles such as “what we do” or “services.”

When selecting a style of navigation (based on the template you are using), give careful consideration to the type and amount of content you may have. Some styles of navigation are better suited than others to allow for a growth in content:

Top Navigation
  • Top navigation (that spans the width of a site in a horizontal linear fashion) is better for drill-down navigation and sites with multiple levels of information, but is limited in number of top-level categories due to variable browser widths.
  • Top navigation solutions also often use local left navigation for providing access to secondary and further levels of content.
  • Top navigation should never break to two or more lines.
Left Navigation
  • Left navigation (in a list style on the left side of a website) allows for a greater number of top-level navigation items, but increases the difficulty for the user to navigate more deeply into levels of a site.
  • Left navigation schemata are best used for smaller sites, or else employed as a sub-navigation technique in combination with a top navigation style.


A breadcrumb or breadcrumb trail is a navigational tool and user interface element that shows a user their current location within a site. Breadcrumb trails are often found near the top of a web page and define both the current location within a site’s hierarchy as well as the preceding page path.

It is recommended that sites employ a breadcrumb trail if the amount of content and depth of navigational structure warrants.

Web Addresses (URLs)

The University of Louisville follows a specific set of guidelines for assigning and maintaining web site addresses (URLs). See the complete URL Policy.

The university is in the planning phases of establishing https:// as the primary protocol to deliver all web pages. This will ensure a more secure user experience as well as help with the search engine optimization of UofL pages.

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Communications & Marketing

University of Louisville

2323 S. Brook St.

Louisville, KY 40208

(502) 852-6171