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 document 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 Ingeniux CMS, Inside Davidson, campus calendar, college websites and blogs created and managed within davidson.edu, externally focused applications and services, mass email/enewsletters and other tools supporting e-communications, social media sites, and college video hosted on internal and external sites.
The primary objective is to provide collaborative centralized governance for the ongoing development, deployment, delivery, and maintenance of Davidson College’s digital image, to achieve a unified look for official college webpages and digital properties to consistently represent the Davidson brand through standard 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 will have access to edit certain portions of these properties, create new content, and remove old content, the website and all its subsites 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 a 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
College Communications has access to all areas of the Davidson website and to ensure quality control, will edit/alter content as needed for clarity, grammar, spelling, usage, and style, as well as to conform 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 find resolution.
Web Permissions, Roles, and Publishing Workflow
Permissions 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).
Roles determine an individual’s content management and workflow responsibilities.
- College Communications Digital Staff – provide 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 are also responsible for maintaining and generating content for high-level landing pages located off the college homepage and providing client and content writing and 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:
- 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 to attend training and maintain their department site. Departments are limited to assigning two people to maintain and update their CMS webpages and attend CMS training—a primary and back up. Generally it is better to assign CMS duties to one or two people who will regularly work in the CMS and gain experience and knowledge verses spreading the responsibility across many faculty or staff some of which may post infrequent updates to the site
- CMS Content Editor – this role is responsible for reviewing submitted CMS content as part of department workflow for quality, style, consistency, accurateness, and that it is up to date. This person may also serve as a CMS Content Author. Not ever department has a CMS Content Editor (this role is only set up for those departments who wish to have all CMS pages reviewed by a department editor before being submitted to the digital staff for review and publishing.
- CMS Content Author – all users are added to the CMS at this level and have the ability to edit existing site content and add new pages. Once changes are completed, pages are sent on in workflow for review or approval by either a department CMS Content Editor (if set up) or sent directly to the digital communications staff for review before it is published to the live website.
- Web Content Contributor – this role does not have access to the CMS, rather, this person works offline with their Web Content Director to prepare and package draft Web content, which is then provided to a CMS Content Author, CMS Content Editor, or the digital communications staff who then add the content to the CMS. Typically, the Web Content Contributor is someone who is not technically inclined, doesn’t feel comfortable working in the CMS, struggles to write and edit content that meets the standards established for the website, or someone who does not have enough time in their work responsibilities to devote to CMS training or maintaining their department website in the CMS. If a department has someone managing their 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 (to be developed).
College Communications reserves the right to reassign CMS Content Editors or CMS Content Authors to a Web Content Contributor role to increase efficiencies in content workflow if a CMS Content Editor/Author is struggling to understand the CMS or if the regularly provided content does not meet the quality standards of the site.
Regardless of the structure, when your department makes changes to existing pages, have a second person review the webpage(s) content before you send it on in workflow for review and/or approval. Make sure that you check spelling, grammar, style, links, and content quality on each page before you submit changes.
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 advise taking more care when making or reviewing changes. If this is 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 until it is resolved.
It is imperative that we all work together to keep the college’s website free of typos, bad grammar, and be consistent in style and quality.
Content Relevancy and Ensuring Up to Date Site Content
Web Content Directors should plan to have their assigned department or area CMS Content Editor(s)/Author(s) review and update each department webpage every six months. Content that is no longer relevant or current must be updated, deleted, or archived from davidson.edu. Pages and site content found to be out of date will be referred to a Web Content Director for review and a plan and timeframe for action will be developed. If pages are still found to be out of date or not reviewed after the agreed to date, the digital communications staff will take an appropriate action or refer the matter to the Digital Communications staff for further action.
An annual content audit will be performed on all department sites to ensure content is up to date, accurate, and still relevant. It is the expectation that academic and administrative department Web Content Directors will meet with digital communications staff in reviewing their site audit and take an active role either directly or indirectly in addressing issues concerning content on a given department site.
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 are 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 attend follow up training to refresh their knowledge and skills.
If training is not immediately available, a department will need to work with a digital communications staff member on maintaining/updating their content until an individual is able to attend a scheduled training.
The College Communications digital staff also offers a weekly CMS lab time (“office hours”) where CMS Web Content Editors and Authors may attend to get assistance with Web projects or ask questions related to training. (to be developed and scheduled)
The college’s new 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 text or unnecessary or irrelevant webpages. Web visitors are task oriented-they skim and scan, getting just enough information to get to their next destination. Clear subheadings, short paragraphs, bulleted and numbered lists, and concisely written pages are methods to help us achieve these goals.
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.
Official College Information
Departments are prohibited from copying official college information to avoid posting conflicting or duplicate information on davidson.edu. Webpages 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.
- Events posted to the campus calendar. Events should always be posted to the EMS campus calendar and pulled directly into department webpages.
- New content referencing the college’s mission, statement of purpose, bylaws, honor code, the college’s religious tradition, and accreditation.
The only course listings or description which can appear on the college website are the Registrar Office’s listing and descriptions. Web Content Editors/Authors should link to the course as it appears on the course catalog or course listing page. Departments cannot post a link to a Word document or a PDF that includes the department’s own course descriptions different from the College Catalog. The digital communications staff reserves the right to remove such documents or links.
College Template Designs
Duplicating any part of the CMS design template, including the header, navigation, masthead or callout styles, and footer is strictly prohibited without the express written approval of the Office of College Communications. Digital Communications staff will remove or disable any sites that are found in violation. Requests for HTML templates to “skin” sites or applications that reside outside of the CMS should be made through the Web project request form (to be developed).
Photography and Visual Content
Photography that meets a high professional standard 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 a connection with the people and activities depicted and they should make alumni feel proud of their connection with Davidson. To achieve these goals, when posting photos on the site, use primarily documentary-style photography that captures the authentic and vibrant interactions among students and among students and faculty. It is important to show a range of genders, ethnic backgrounds, and races, but try to avoid artificial-looking situations that are obviously trying to communicate diversity. The use of clip art and low-end graphics should be avoided. See the Graphic Identity Standards for additional guidance.
All photography will be reviewed for quality professional standards prior to publishing. Photos found not meeting quality expectations will be identified and discussed with department CMS Editors/Authors or the Web Content Director.
College Communications, working in concert with Web Content Directors and Web Content Editors/Authors at the college, 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 webpages). 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 communications staff. If you would like your site or 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.
Part of the website’s strategic objectives is to provide a uniform, professional look to all faculty and staff photos featured on official biography pages. 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 images not taken by the college photographer that do not meet quality standards.
Faculty members are welcome to use their own photos on their own personal or course websites not located in the CMS.
When faculty and staff members are at photo shoots with the campus photographer, they are welcome to look at the photos and get a retake right then and there.
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 a substitute location for providing “official” college information. All “official” college information should be presented within the college’s Ingeniux CMS if directed toward public audiences or on Inside Davidson if content is for internal campus audiences.
Before a department is provided access to a new blog that is not tied to a specific course or academic coursework, a proposal must be written and submitted via a 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 interval, and (6) the intended frequency of blog updates/posts. Blogs that receive few or infrequent updates or are found not in compliance with college brand standards may be deactivated and archived.
Videos are an important component of telling the Davidson College story, and like other materials that tell our stories – brochures, handbooks, webpages, 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.
Everyone involved in the creation of a video that is going to be posted in the CMS or the Davidson College YouTube channel needs to first go through a 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, should always 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 reflect positively on the Davidson brand and uphold the college’s mission and values.
The same visual identity and brand standards that apply to davidson.edu also apply to social media sites managed by departments. This includes the correct use of college identifiers, logos, marks, graphics, colors, etc. Departments found out of compliance will be notified and recommendations provided to bring into compliance. If a social media site is still found out of compliance after an agreed to date, then all links to that social media site posted on Davidson.edu will be removed.
Departments who 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All web editors/authors should familiarize themselves and follow the ADA Compliancy 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 compliancy 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 webpages or navigation, e.g., asking visitors to chose a link in the red area of the page.