Web Governance Policy
At the University of Cincinnati, we recognize the critical role that websites play in advancing our academic mission and engaging with our diverse communities. To achieve our goals, we take a data-driven and user-first approach to managing our web ecosystem, ensuring that our sites are accessible, usable, and informative. Our web governance policy outlines the guidelines, roles, and responsibilities essential to ensuring that our websites are effective communication tools that meet the needs of our students, faculty, staff, and external partners.
The University of Cincinnati's web presence serves as a key communication tool for our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the public. The goals of our web governance policy are to:
- Ensure that our websites and digital content are up-to-date, accessible, and meet the highest standards of quality and consistency.
- Provide clear guidelines and expectations for website owners, editors, and contributors.
- Ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and university policies.
- Ensure that university branding, messaging, and visual identity are maintained across all websites and digital content.
This policy applies to all websites that are owned and operated by University of Cincinnati employees as a representative of UC, regardless of whether or not they feature the UC brand mark. In other words, if a legal issue arises from a website and a University of Cincinnati employee is the one responsible for making any necessary edits, then the website falls within the scope of this policy. This includes but is not limited to websites for academic units, administrative offices, student organizations, and research centers.
If a website is operated by a third-party vendor on behalf of the University, the vendor must follow the guidelines and requirements outlined in this policy. The University of Cincinnati reserves the right to review and enforce compliance with this policy for any website that falls within its scope, whether it is hosted on a University-owned server or not.
Roles and Responsibilities
At the University of Cincinnati, the responsibility for web governance is shared across several roles, including:
The University's senior leadership, including the Board of Trustees, President, Provost, Vice Presidents, and Deans, are responsible for upholding the core values of the institution and ensuring that all web content aligns with the University's mission and goals. This includes providing support and resources required to maintain high standards of quality and accessibility for web content.
Each college, department, or unit is responsible for the creation of its own accessible web content. Site owners provide oversight and make decisions about what content should be included or removed. While site owners are not always directly involved in the day-to-day maintenance of the website, they are responsible for the strategic direction and ultimately ensuring that their website and any third-party web content meets University standards for quality, accessibility, and accuracy.
Apex users serve as the main point of contact between the Digital + User Experience team and the college or unit for support related to their website(s). They are responsible for ensuring that their website is up-to-date, accessible, and in compliance with University policies and guidelines. They should work with the site owner to execute the long-term vision and goals while also serving as a resource for web authors.
A web author is anyone who has access to edit a University website. They must complete the required accessibility and content management training. Web authors can serve as subject matter experts for content and should work with their apex user regularly to ensure they are in compliance with University policies and guidelines. Website projects or changes to the information architecture should be coordinated through the apex user.
The primary audience for UC's homepage and top-level pages are prospective students and is intended to showcase what makes UC unique and encourage potential students to apply. Pages deeper into the site may serve different audiences. It's important to note that all faculty and staff exclusive content should be published on Bearcats Landing, UC's intranet.
When considering creating a new website, there are several important factors to keep in mind:
- Clearly Define Purpose, Goals, and Content Structure: Before proceeding, ensure you have a clear understanding of what your website aims to achieve, its goals, and how the content will be organized. New websites should not be considered without having planned content.
- Outline Key Features and Functionalities: Identify the essential features and functionalities you want to include on your website. This will help in the planning and development process.
- Adhere to University Web Strategy and Governance Policy: Familiarize yourself with the University of Cincinnati's web strategy and governance policy. Ensure that your website aligns with these guidelines to maintain consistency and compliance.
- Consider Adding Content to Existing Websites: Whenever possible, consider adding new content to an existing website rather than creating a completely new one. Only pursue a new site if there is a justified need.
- Site Location and URL: Site location and URL will be discussed in collaboration with the requesting office, but the final decision rests with us.
- Submit a Web Communications Ticket for New Sites: If, after reviewing the site creation notes, you determine that a new website is necessary, please submit a Web Communications ticket to initiate the process. This ticket will be carefully reviewed to ensure alignment with the university's web strategy and governance policy. Once approved, you'll receive the necessary resources and training to build your site using the AEM CMS.
Remember, all websites owned and operated by the University of Cincinnati must be created and maintained within our content management system, Adobe Experience Manager (AEM).
Migrating a site to AEM
If you have an existing website that was created outside of our CMS, we strongly encourage you to migrate it to AEM. We understand that this may be a complex process, but we offer resources and support to help make the transition as smooth as possible. Creating an accessible third-party website outside of our CMS can be challenging, and such websites may not have access to centralized resources.
There are several benefits of using a single, centralized content management system, such as:
- Consistency: Ensures that all web pages within the university follow the same design and branding guidelines, resulting in a more cohesive web presence.
- Efficiency: Managing multiple websites can be time-consuming and require a lot of resources. Streamlines website management saving time and resources.
- User experience: Allows for a better user experience as the website content and design is consistent, easy to navigate and the user is familiar with the layout.
- Accessibility: Provide accessible templates to all users with accessibility updates implemented across all sites at once.
- Analytics: Comprehensive view of website analytics and performance across all university websites, allowing for better decision-making.
- Emergency messaging: Allows for quick and easy updates to messaging across all campus websites, ensuring consistent and accurate communication to the university community.
A vanity request involves creating a custom URL at the root level of UC's information architecture, (uc.edu/url-request). As part of our process, our office carefully reviews all root-level requests and maintains a list of vanities to prevent duplicates and conflicts. Additionally, specific URLs are reserved for top-level content to maintain a well-organized web environment.
To be eligible for a vanity URL, the content must directly relate to official UC events, campaigns, or activities that align with the university's mission and values. When submitting a request, it's essential to provide a compelling justification highlighting the URL's significance and its impact on the intended audience.
Please note that approval must be obtained before incorporating the requested URL into any printed materials. Utilizing the URL on printed materials prior to approval does not guarantee automatic approval of the vanity request. To ensure a smooth process, we recommend planning ahead and submitting your request well before any print deadlines.
Some requirements when considering your request:
- Use lowercase letters
- Use full words over abbreviations
- Separate words with hyphens, not underscores
- Avoid special characters, symbols, or spaces
- Keep URLs concise and clear
- Proper names are not permitted
- Do not include "uc" in the requested website URL; it is already part of the root domain (e.g., uc.edu/uc-website)
Under most circumstances, new websites will be created below the root level of uc.edu (uc.edu/about/new-site). In certain situations, a new site may require a new subdomain (domain.uc.edu). Users requesting a new University of Cincinnati domain must submit a request for subdomain approval form, and adhere to the subdomain naming policies below. Domain requests are reviewed by the Domain Review Committee to ensure that each reflects an appropriate and effective domain. All subdomains (domain.uc.edu) are reviewed. Requests require up to 14 days for approval.
- Public-facing domains/sites must be housed within a university-supported content management platform.
- Subdomains will not be approved if used only for redirecting to other domains. The domain name must resolve to your website.
- Names must not include brand names (ex: author.uc.edu as opposed to AEM.uc.edu) or proper names (ex: johnsmith.uc.edu).
- Avoid names that could be of use to a wider university audience or university-wide communication, marketing, or fundraising efforts. Generic or common terms are unlikely to be approved.
- Names should be all lowercase, and multiple words should either be combined or separated by hyphens (ex: new-site.uc.edu). If you are combining multiple words, be mindful of word combinations that may be confusing to users or inappropriate.
- Names should be descriptive of their intended use.
Branding, Design and Content
The design of websites must comply with UC's Digital Brand Guide including, but not limited to the following:
- every page of the site must contain the UC logo in a prominent location at the top of the page
- the UC logo must contain appropriate safe space
- the UC logo must be a link to UC’s home page (www.uc.edu)
- the primary colors of the site must be red (#E00122), black (#000000) and white (#ffffff)
- the pages must contain branding “architecture” in addition to the UC logo. Consult the UC Digital Brand Guide for additional details
Incorporating third-party tools into UC websites requires proactive coordination with the our office well in advance. We urge you not to wait until you're ready to integrate the tool into your website – involving us in the conversation early ensures a smoother process.
It's essential that all third-party tools undergo thorough accessibility testing. Accessibility considerations should be taken into account during the procurement phase to guarantee that the tool you are acquiring is accessible. Remember that purchasing a tool doesn't automatically ensure its compliance with accessibility standards or suitability for your intended use. By approaching third-party tools with careful planning and accessibility in mind, we can maintain the inclusivity and functionality of our digital platforms.