Digital Governance & Standards

The development of Davidson College’s website and digital properties is an extensive undertaking and major investment in enhancing the college’s online image. It is important that as a campus community we maintain davidson.edu, subsites, blogs, and other digital properties according to best practices and at the highest possible quality.

To that end, this page outlines the management and governance of the Davidson College digital environment.

Digital and Web governance refers to people, policies, procedures, standards, and guidelines that govern the creation and maintenance of our official website and digital properties. These include pages managed in the Ingeniux CMS, Inside Davidson, the campus calendar, college websites and blogs created and managed within davidson.edu, externally focused applications and services, mass email/e-newsletters and other tools supporting e-communications, social media sites, and college video hosted on internal and external sites.

Objective

The primary objective in developing these guidelines is to provide collaborative centralized governance for the ongoing development, deployment, delivery and maintenance of Davidson College’s digital image in order to achieve a unified look for official college web pages and digital properties and to consistently present and elevate the Davidson brand through defined and standardized processes, roles, responsibilities and practices.

This objective will be pursued with the website’s underlying strategic priority in mind: to facilitate a user experience that will develop a lasting digital relationship with all visitors—in particular prospective and current students—providing them with the information they need quickly, easily and enjoyably. To that end, the website and digital properties must be arranged in a way that intuitively presents information to site visitors to facilitate a satisfactory, pleasant online experience.

Governance Policies & Standards

Guidelines and Compliance

The website, davidson.edu, and all other digital properties created and managed within the Davidson domain are the sole property of Davidson College. While certain faculty and staff members will have access to edit certain portions of these properties, create new content, and remove old content, the website and all its sub-sites remain the property of the college.

The website provides a platform to showcase the college’s best qualities and project a positive image to the entire world. It is a strategic asset that carries enormous influence and provides global access to all aspects of the college. With more than 130 Web editors/authors managing portions of the site, guidelines that encourage clarity, accuracy, and consistency are essential for protecting the college’s online image. This document aims to cover all areas of digital governance, but if you have questions that are not answered upon reviewing this, please contact digitalstaff@davidson.edu.

College Communications has access to all areas of the Davidson website and to ensure quality control, members of the digital staff team will edit/alter content as needed for clarity or to fix grammar, spelling, usage and style issues, as well as to ensure conformity with college naming conventions and branding. The college reserves the right to revise or remove content housed either on college Web resources or external resources that does not meet the college’s acceptable use agreement or the standards outlined in this document. The digital communications staff will first communicate issues with the person responsible for the content in question or the Web Content Director to discuss resolution.

Web Permissions, Roles, and Publishing Workflow

Permissions to add or edit content are determined by user groups, which are generally the same for all content editors and authors assigned to maintain a specific department or area of the website (e.g., all users in the Admission and Financial Aid CMS Author user group have the ability to edit the Admission and Financial Aid site).

Content management and workflow responsibilities differ by role.

  • College Communications Digital Staff Members: The digital staff provides strategic and day-to-day oversight of all Web content submitted for review as part of workflow before it is published to the live Davidson website. Digital staff members also are responsible for maintaining and generating content for high-level landing pages linked to from the college homepage, and providing client and content writing/editing support to departments.
  • Web Content Director: Each academic or administrative department director or chair is a Web Content Director. In this capacity, the Web Content Director is responsible for the following.
    • Departmental decisions regarding content direction for their site that aligns with the college’s stated strategic Web goals and objectives
    • Ensuring that all department site content is up to date, accurate, and meets the college’s quality standards
    • Selection of faculty or staff members to attend training and maintain their department site. Departments may assign up to two people – a “primary” and a “backup” – to attend CMS training and learn to maintain and update their departments’ CMS web pages. It is best to assign CMS duties to one or two people, who will work regularly in the CMS and gain experience and knowledge, rather than spreading the responsibility across many faculty or staff members
  • CMS Content Editor: Content editors are responsible for reviewing CMS content as part of department workflow for quality, style, consistency and accuracy. A Content Editor may also serve as a CMS Content Author. Departments are not required to have Content Editors; the role need only be set up for those departments who wish to have all of their web pages reviewed by an editor within their department before the pages are submitted to digital staff for review and publishing.
  • CMS Content Author: After attending training, users are given access to the CMS at this level and have the ability to edit existing site content and add new pages. Once they make changes, they send pages on through workflow for review or approval by either a department CMS Content Editor (optional) or a digital communications staff member before the pages are published to the live website.
  • Web Content Contributor: Contributors not have access to the CMS; they work offline with their Web Content Directors to prepare and package draft Web content, which then must be sent to a CMS Content Author, CMS Content Editor, or the digital communications staff to get added to the CMS. Typically, a Web Content Contributor is someone who is not technologically inclined, does not feel comfortable working in the CMS, struggles to write and edit content that meets the standards established for the website, or does not have enough time to devote to CMS training and maintaining their department website. If a department has someone managing its pages in this capacity, without a Web Content Editor or Web Content Author, change requests or requests for new pages must be submitted through our online request form.

College Communications reserves the right to reassign a CMS Content Editor or CMS Content Author to a Web Content Contributor role to increase efficiencies in content workflow if that CMS Content Editor/Author is struggling to understand the CMS or if the content provided regularly does not meet the quality standards of the site.

Quality Control/Workflow

Each department should ensure that changes to web pages get written and then reviewed by a second person before sending them on in workflow for review and approval. Digital staff should receive final, edited versions of each page. There should be no spelling or grammatical errors, and pages should adhere to the college’s style guidelines.

All edits to existing CMS pages or the creation of new pages will be reviewed by a member of the digital communications staff prior to being published. The digital communications staff will also review all news and events entries for spelling, grammar, style and content quality.

If pages are submitted with errors or they are of poor quality, the digital communications staff will either reject the page and request the CMS Editor/Author make the appropriate changes or will correct the page and contact the CMS Editor/Author responsible to alert them to the issue(s). If this becomes a recurring problem, the digital staff will relay the concern to the Web Content Director of the department or area and may suspend CMS editing privileges.

Content Relevancy and Ensuring Up-to-Date Site Content

Web Content Directors should plan to have their assigned CMS Content Editor(s)/Author(s) review and update each department web page every six months. Content that is no longer relevant or current must be updated or removed from davidson.edu. As digital staff members find out-of-date pages and site content they will alert the department’s Web Content Director and request a plan and time frame for resolution of the issue. If pages are still found to be out-of-date after the agreed upon time frame, the digital communications staff will take an appropriate action to fix the issue or remove the content.

In addition to the 6-month review by department authors/editors, digital staff members will perform annual content audits of all department sites. It is the expectation that department Web Content Directors will meet with digital communications staff to review any issues identified in their site audit and will take an active role in addressing those issues.

CMS Training/Education

Only CMS Content Editors/Authors who have been formally trained and attend a CMS group training session will be given access to the content management system. The College Communications digital staff is responsible for initial group-based training, after which time CMS users may utilize various support documents and training screencasts by visiting the CMS training website (to be developed). It is the trainee’s responsibility to absorb the material, to practice what they learn in these sessions, and to utilize the training and style documentation that is provided. CMS Content Editors/Authors may also attend follow up training to refresh their knowledge and skills.

Initially, if a department does not have a trained Content Author, it must designate someone from that department to work with a digital communications staff member on maintaining/updating content until an individual from the department is able to attend a scheduled training.

The College Communications digital staff also offers a CMS open lab time (“office hours”) twice a month. CMS Web Content Editors and Authors will be notified of the open lab via email and may drop in to get assistance with Web projects or ask questions related to training.

Written Content/Messaging/Branding

The college site embraces a writing style that engages our readers in a conversation. We want to speak directly to them, answer their questions and give them information as concisely and clearly as possible. We don’t want to bog them down with excessive text or  irrelevant content. Web visitors are task-oriented–they skim and scan, getting just enough information to get to their next destination. We want to make that process as easy as possible, and to do so we use subheadings, short paragraphs, bulleted/numbered lists and concise, relevant text.

So that we convey a clear and consistent message, it is critical for all parts of the davidson.edu domain to use the college’s official visual identifiers (logos) and the college naming conventions and style outlined in the graphic identity standards and Davidson College Style Guide. Davidson College primarily follows the Associated Press Stylebook, with a few exceptions.

Official College Information

Departments are prohibited from copying official college information to avoid posting conflicting or duplicate information on davidson.edu. Web pages or content found to be in violation will be removed. This includes:

  • Tuition, fees, and scholarship information
  • Academic calendars and college deadlines
  • Course listings (maintained by the Registrar’s Office)
  • Course descriptions other than those provide in the College Catalog
  • Academic requirements listed in the College Catalog
  • College news stories or announcements published by College Communications. A separate CMS workflow and keyword taxonomy system allows for news stories to be automatically published to department homepages when relevant/related.
  • Events posted to the campus calendar. Events should always be posted to the EMS campus calendar and pulled directly into department web pages from that system.
  • New content referencing the college’s mission, statement of purpose, bylaws, honor code, the college’s religious tradition and accreditation.

Course Listings

The only course listings or descriptions that can appear on the college website are the ones generated by the Registrar Office. Web Content Editors/Authors should link to a course as it appears on the College Catalog or course listing page. Departments may not post links to Word documents or a PDFs that include course descriptions different from those in College Catalog. The digital communications staff will remove such documents or links.

College Template Designs

Duplicating any part of the CMS design template, including the header, footer, navigation, masthead or callout styles, is strictly prohibited without the express written approval of the Office of College Communications. Digital Communications staff members will remove or disable any sites that are found in violation of this rule. Requests for HTML templates to “skin” sites or applications that reside outside of the CMS should be made through the Web project request form.

Photography and Visual Content

High-quality, professional photography plays a critical role in creating a positive image of Davidson College. The photographic images used on the website should inspire prospective and current students, parents, and faculty and make them feel connected to the people and activities depicted. They should also make alumni feel proud of their existing connection with Davidson. To achieve these goals, when posting photos on the site, we use primarily narrative photos that capture the authentic and vibrant interactions among students, faculty and staff members. It is important to show a range of genders, ethnic backgrounds and races, but remain authentic and try to avoid staged situations that are obviously trying to communicate diversity. The use of clip art and low-end graphics is not permitted. See the graphic identity standards for additional guidance.

All photography will be reviewed for quality and professional standards prior to publishing. Photos that do not meet quality expectations will be identified and discussed with department CMS Editors/Authors or Web Content Directors.

College Communications, working in concert with departments’ Web Content Directors and Web Content Editors/Authors, will select all masthead photos (the photos used at the top of top-level and department-level websites) and right column callout photos (the photos used for callout/highlights in the right columns of web pages). These may be rotated out at the change of a semester, at the end of the academic year, or on a more frequent schedule determined in discussions with digital staff. If you would like your department masthead or right column callout photo(s) changed, complete our Web project request form. Web Content Editors/Authors for individual departments sites are responsible for all other photos on their pages. Editors should follow the guidelines set forth in the graphic identity standards.

In addition to posting top-quality, narrative photos, ensuring a uniform, professional look for all faculty and staff photos is another part of our strategic objectives. A college photographer, based in the Office of College Communications, takes all faculty and staff photos for biography pages. Web Content Editors/Authors should refrain from using CatCard images or others that do not meet quality standards.

Faculty members are welcome to use their own photos on their own personal or professional websites that are not located in the Davidson CMS.

College Blogs

The college provides academic and administrative departments with access to WordPress blogs as a place for providing interactive and dynamic site content. WordPress blogs are not substitute locations for providing “official” college information. All official college information intended for public audiences should be presented within the college’s Ingeniux CMS, and information intended for an internal campus audience should be placed on Inside Davidson.

To request access to a new blog that is not tied to a specific course or academic coursework, you must submitted a proposal via the blog request form (to be developed) detailing (1) the communication goals and objectives for the blog, (2) the intended audience(s) of the blog, (3) how the blog will integrate and support current department Web and/or social media objectives and priorities, (4) why the current Ingeniux CMS or Inside Davidson site are unable to meet the intended purpose of the blog, (5) names of faculty or staff who will manage and contribute content to the blog on a consistent and regular basis, and (6) the intended frequency of blog updates/posts. Blogs that receive few or infrequent updates or are found to be out of compliance with college brand standards may be deactivated and archived.

Videos

Videos are important tools with which to tell the Davidson College story, and like other digital and printed materials–brochures, handbooks, web pages, email, social media sites, etc.–they need to adhere to graphic identity standards and be consistent in style, tone and message. For information on graphics and fonts that should be used in videos posted or embedded on davidson.edu or other college digital properties, refer to the college’s video guidelines.

Anyone involved in the creation of a video that will be posted to the college website or the Davidson College YouTube channel needs to first go through video production training. This training covers a variety of topics, including preproduction planning, storytelling, video concepts, capturing audio and editing techniques. See the video production guidelines for things to think about as you begin the video production process.

All videos posted on davidson.edu, either uploaded directly to davidson.edu or embedded in the site from external social media video sharing sites owned or managed by college departments like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo and similar sites, must be ADA and Section 508 compliant and be captioned or a text transcript provided. This applies to videos produced by college faculty, staff and students as well as independently-produced videos.

It may be a challenge for some academic departments and courses to comply with this requirement. Please contact a member of the digital communications staff to discuss the issue and options. When videos are not ADA compliant and don’t include captions or text transcripts, we are excluding individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have similar disabilities from accessing this content. Whenever you are producing video, you should include time in your production schedule for transcription or captioning.

If you would like a video embedded on the college’s website or posted on Davidson College’s YouTube Channel, please refer to the video production guidelines for additional instructions.

Social Media and New Technologies

Davidson College’s reach extends far beyond davidson.edu to also include the social media space. The conversations and interactions that happen in social media should positively reflect the Davidson brand and uphold the college’s mission and values.

The same visual identity and brand standards that apply to davidson.edu content, including the correct use of college identifiers, logos, marks, graphics, colors, etc., also apply to social media sites managed by departments. Departments found out of compliance will be notified and provided with recommendations on how to bring their sites into compliance. If a social media site is still found out of compliance after an agreed upon date, then all links to that social media site from davidson.edu will be removed.

Departments that wish to pull any of their social media site content into the CMS must first provide digital communications staff administrative access to each social media site. The department social media site must also be in compliance with college visual identity and brand standards.

Ask the digital communications staff for assistance in setting up social media sites. Additional information is available in the college’s social media guidelines and the graphic identity standards.

Mobile Applications or Apps

College departments should contact Information Technology Services and digital communications staff prior to planning, developing, or contracting with an external vendor or launching mobile applications to ensure the applications follow Davidson College brand standards, app development standards, and requirements for iOS, Android, and other platforms, and are in the strategic interest of the college. All iOS and Android mobile applications must be uploaded through the college’s mobile development accounts. For more information on branding for mobile applications, see the graphic identity standards.

Web Traffic Statistics/Metrics

Google Analytics tracking code has been embedded in all CMS pages. Departments who want to track page views for a given page may do so by visiting the appropriate tab once logged into Ingeniux. Departments interested in high-level Web traffic statistics should contact Director of Digital Communications Doug Minor.

Change Management and Outage Notices

All changes are to be posted and all pertinent parties notified of major changes and or outages, third-party integrations, changes to operations, and capacity planning. The digital communications staff will notify the campus to scheduled and unscheduled changes to the site or outages via the CMS listserv and Inside Davidson announcements.

Content Management System

All content will be held and propagated to the site using the approved Ingeniux CMS and its implemented version. No other software product may be used within the approved Ingeniux CMS and its build architecture. All CMS Content Editors/Authors are expected to ensure all links are live, tested, and appropriately implemented.

Accessibility

All web editors/authors should familiarize themselves with and follow the ADA Compliance guidelines as detailed in Web accessibility standards (to be developed). Digital communications staff will run all site pages through a W3C compliant validation product to ensure section 508 compliance for the disabled.

Some general accessibility best practices include adding alternative text (alt text) to images, avoiding conveying text as or within images uploaded to the site, providing text transcripts or captions for videos and audio files, avoiding referencing colors within web pages or navigation, e.g., asking visitors to chose a link in the red area of the page.

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