Administration and Operations Manual
1.24 Web Communications Policy
April 10, 2013
Refer Questions To:
Executive Director, Gallaudet Technology Services (for technical questions) and Executive Director, Communications and Public Relations (for content and branding questions)
This policy applies to all faculty, teachers, staff, and students regarding procedures and standards for online communications including the university website, blogs, apps, and social media for Gallaudet University.
Web OversightApproved by:
Gallaudet University Administration
Gallaudet's official website, www.gallaudet.edu, is managed by the Office of Communications and Public Relations and maintained by Gallaudet Technology Services (GTS). Communications and Public Relations is responsible for making decisions on behalf of the university on information architecture, usability, design, structure, and strategy for the official university website. Decisions are based on current best practices in web management and the university's strategic plan, in consultation with GTS and other campus constituents.
GTS is responsible for web server maintenance, monitoring and updating the content management system (CMS), troubleshooting hardware and systems issues, assigning user access to the CMS, and providing user CMS training and assistance. Communications and Public Relations works closely with GTS to coordinate the technical and functional aspects of the web with the user experience and content perspective.
The primary audience of the Gallaudet website is prospective undergraduate and graduate students. Other target audiences include current students, faculty, staff, alumni, news media, and the general public. The primary audiences of the Clerc Center pages of the Gallaudet website are professionals working with deaf and hard of hearing students, and families of deaf and hard of hearing children, as well as the current and prospective families of the demonstration schools.
Content on the Gallaudet home page is created and managed by the Office of Communications and Public Relations.
Content Management Systems
The majority of the Gallaudet web presence is maintained by web authors from various departments and programs using a content management system (CMS). The majority of the Clerc Center's websites are authored by Public Relations and Communications, in conjunction with the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) Leadership Team for the KDES website; with the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) Leadership Team for the MSSD website; and with planning, development, and dissemination for the pages that relate to research, priority setting, and products and services offered by the Clerc Center.
The CMS allows the university to maintain a consistent design for web pages (headers, footers, colors, fonts, etc.) and also allow department web authors to update and create their own content. The CMS also allows the Office of Communications and Public Relations and Gallaudet Technology Services easier access to web content in order to assist departments and to ensure that sites are in compliance with Gallaudet web standards.
All official university web pages should be managed from within the CMS with few exceptions. Departments must have approval from the Office of Communications and Public Relations for any exceptions to this requirement. Academic departments and programs must have approval from their dean before requesting an exception.
Office, College, Department, Organization, and Program Sites
Websites representing official entities within the university are maintained by identified web authors within those areas. All websites must adhere to web content and editorial guidelines (found at www.gallaudet.edu/Communications_and_Public_Relations/Guidelines.html) as well as any related University Administration & Operations policies. The Office of Communications and Public Relations will work with departments to update and correct content that does not meet university guidelines and policies. The Office of Communications and Public Relations has the authority to review, edit, or remove any content on any official Gallaudet website that is not in compliance with university policy. To request a new site, please contact the Helpdesk.
Gallaudet Technology Services offers training for web authors using the university's CMS. GTS provides technical support for website creation and maintenance. Questions about content, including text, links, graphics, images, headlines, video, and information architecture, should be referred to the Office of Communications and Public Relations. Decisions about content are based on overall usability, information architecture standards, analytics data, and Gallaudet's mission, vision, and strategic plan. The Clerc Center Office of Public Relations and Communications will approve all content for the Clerc Center webpages using similar criteria and the Clerc Center Strategic Plan and priorities.
Student organizations may request to have a site within the university CMS, using the Gallaudet web template (design) or may have a site maintained outside of the system. In order to have a site in the CMS or to have a link from a Gallaudet page to their external site, organization web pages must adhere to policies outlined in the Student Handbook (found at http://www.gallaudet.edu/studenthandbook.xml) as well as other official university policy governing student conduct. Requests for new student organization websites must be approved by the Director, Campus Activities and Community Programs, Student Affairs. Student organizations are responsible for updating their own content. Pages in the CMS or links to external sites that are found to be out of date or not in adherence to stated university policy will be disabled or removed following timely notification of content authors.
Faculty, Staff - Individual Pages
Most departments and programs maintain an official profile page for faculty and staff within their departments. Faculty and staff may request to have an individual professional site within the university CMS, using the Gallaudet web template (design) and following approved web guidelines (found at www.gallaudet.edu/Communications_and_Public_Relations/Guidelines.html). Faculty and staff are also welcome to maintain an individual site outside of the university's CMS. Faculty and staff individual pages, even those maintained outside of the CMS, that are linked from the official profile page or any university web page, must also adhere to other official university policy. Faculty and staff are responsible for updating their own content. Pages in the CMS or links to external sites that are found to be out of date or not in adherence to stated university policy will be disabled or removed following timely notification of content authors. Contact the Helpdesk to request a site within the CMS.
Agreements with and use of commercial service providers for online services must be consistent with university policy. Agreements must be approved by Gallaudet Technology Services prior to entering a contract. All university websites should be maintained in the university's CMS, but there may be legitimate reasons to host a site outside of the CMS. Departments and programs wishing to enter into an agreement with a third-party service provider will need to present a case for an exception to the Executive Director, Office of Communications and Public Relations and Executive Director, Gallaudet Technology Services, who have the final authority to approve these requests. If approval is granted, departments are responsible to ensure that their vendor adheres to all university web policies, procedures and standards and also be mobile-friendly.
Recognizing the federally mandated work of the Clerc Center and the need to produce web products and services, the Clerc Center and Gallaudet Technology Services may collaborate with Ingeniux if needed, to provide a customized site within the CMS if possible. Every effort will be made to develop products in the CMS, but if the capability does not exist, the Clerc Center may pursue outside contracts to satisfy mission specific goals and objectives, with the approval of Gallaudet Technology Services.
With the use of a content management system, the university has established a few page design templates that include university approved and consistent headers, footers, colors, fonts, and placement of various pieces of content. There is some flexibility within certain areas of the template. The CMS and the templates are designed so that the average content author, who may not have any web experience, can easily update content without having knowledge of design and code.
All websites produced by and for the university, for any department, college, office, program or individual, must contain the university or Clerc Center header (including the logo), footer, and follow the approved color, font, layout and navigation standards. This applies to sites that have been approved to be managed outside of the official CMS or by third-party vendors.
Gallaudet web page addresses must be within the WWW directory/domain, such as www.gallaudet.edu/about. Requests for subdomains, such as about.gallaudet.edu, will not be granted. Existing subdomain URLs are allowed.
Each department, office, organization or program with an established website should have a designated content author who has access to create and update content on the site. Guidelines to be followed by content authors can be found at www.gallaudet.edu/Communications_and_Public_Relations/Guidelines.html.
Gallaudet has an official app, mGallaudet, which is available for Apple and Droid devices. Departments wishing to create an app must contact the Helpdesk and outline the purpose of the app, how it will benefit the university's primary audiences, the functions and features to be included in the app, etc. The request should also include whether a third-party vendor is being considered to provide the app. All requests for creating apps using an external vendor must be reviewed and approved by the Executive Director, Office of Communications and Public Relations and Executive Director, Gallaudet Technology Services prior to entering into any contracts with third-party vendors.
Blogs and Social Media
Gallaudet University supports and encourages the use of blogs and social media by university departments/programs. However, social media and blogs should not be the primary mechanism for sharing information; these venues should not supersede the website. Any information that is shared in a blog or on social media should also be on the department's website. All blogs and social media should ultimately direct traffic to the website as the official source of information. Blogs and social media sites should never be used in place of an official website.
The University External Relations Policy, 1.22 External Relations Policy should be followed when establishing a blog or communicating via social media sites.
More information on social media and blog sites can be found at www.gallaudet.edu/Communications_and_Public_Relations/Guidelines.html.