The University of West Florida has designated the Office of Institutional Communications (OIC) to oversee official University web properties. These guidelines govern the documents and files that are part of the UWF web presence. This includes the uwf.edu domain and subdomains, as well as other web domains owned or managed by UWF.
UWF utilizes the web to communicate information about the University's mission, programs, departments, curricula, services, events and initiatives to various relevant audiences. The UWF Web Governance Guidelines empower various University entities and stakeholders to quickly create and publish engaging, accurate and relevant web content while maintaining a consistent, high-quality brand image and voice.
All UWF websites and pages should work together as an ecosystem–sharing the same kinds of information, writing style and visual system so users can navigate easily. These are strategic assets that belong to the University, not individual departments or divisions. Departments serve as caretakers of their websites. It is the duty of these caretakers, in collaboration with OIC, to uphold and preserve the reputation of UWF and to ensure the user can find the relevant information they need quickly and efficiently.
OIC has full access to UWF web properties and has broad authority to oversee, edit and remove content that does not comply with these procedures. These guidelines will be periodically revised in response to pertinent issues in consultation with the appropriate entities. Please address any questions, comments or suggestions concerning these guidelines to email@example.com.
Guiding Principles and Values
UWF webpages should be functional, transactional, interactive and follow the below guidelines:
- Meet the audience’s needs through easy-to-digest writing for your website visitors.
- Display consistency in navigation and content, creating quickly accessible information across browsers and devices.
- Follow a plan developed with OIC for new official webpages and websites that prioritizes audiences, includes a statement of purpose, and has a roadmap for continual updates.
- Create an ease of navigation to or from UWF’s main website from every UWF webpage.
- Meet or exceed standards and best practices for accessibility across the widest possible variety of platforms, browsers and devices.
- Meet or exceed standards and best practices for system security, including secure transactions and protection of personal data and identity.
- Adhere to broader University standards for communication and branding, including standards in all other areas as defined by established policies or practices.
- Our website is always improving. A website is not a finished product. We are committed to continuous improvement, using data-based analysis and experimentation to better meet user—and University—goals.
1. Centralized Responsibilities and Services
Office of Institutional Communications
The Office of Institutional Communications leads primary strategic direction and support for uwf.edu and associated sites and assets, working closely with Information Technology Services and the web server administrators, who are available for consultation.
Additional responsibilities of OIC include:
- Setting website direction and policies based on best practices and the needs of web visitors.
- Ensuring site quality and content integrity as well as compliance with all legal and regulatory standards, including accessibility, security and protection of personal information.
- Providing training and support to editors for use of the content management system, website procedures and ADA compliance/accessibility.
- Maintaining the software in an up-to-date manner as well as up-to-date CMS guide, sample pages and web content style guide.
- Developing, updating and maintaining the uwf.edu homepage as well as other “top-tier” pages including Campus Life, Research, Admissions, Academics and About UWF landing pages, other marketing or brand initiatives, and academic program pages.
- Researching, evaluating and sharing new industry trends, best practices and insights.
- Primary support for uwf.edu and associated sites and assets. This support includes:
- Updating site structure and navigation, including the creation of new pages. To promote a streamlined site map and a positive user experience, creating new sites will be an exclusive responsibility of OIC.
- Evaluating and executing requests to develop new features and templates, including changes to taxonomy, structure, branding, look and feel, navigation, styling, etc.
- Limited exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
- Making changes as needed for clarity, grammar, spelling, usage, website best practices, accessibility compliance and style, as well as to conform to University naming conventions and branding. OIC has access to all areas of the UWF domain and related domains and, to ensure quality control, will edit content accordingly to promote effective web communications.
2. Decentralized Responsibilities
Full-time and part-time permanent staff and faculty members are able to request account access. To request access to the content management system please read and follow the instructions on the Certified Web Managers Guide in Confluence.
Web managers are UWF staff and faculty members who are responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of individual University websites and webpages. All individual websites and webpages must have an assigned web manager, unless a college/divisional/institutional marketing team has assumed ownership.
Web managers are expected to:
- Work only within the bounds of the website their department/unit controls.
- Understand the structure and use of sections in the website hierarchy.
- Understand the publish and transfer cycle.
- Understand the publishing options, such as previewing, saving and approving.
- Consult the user guide, as needed.
Web managers are split into two main groups: moderators and contributors.
Moderators have received advanced training in branding, writing for the web, accessibility and CMS use. They are the only web managers with the ability to approve and publish content to the live web server. In most cases, OIC will select moderators in coordination with the appropriate Dean or Vice President. Moderators are responsible for:
- Ensuring all content, including text, photos, videos and PDFs, whether posted themselves or with the assistance of appropriate contributors, are in accordance with the governance and brand guidelines.
- Approving content to go live on the web server.
- Completing and remaining up-to-date with web training, including advanced modules.
- Correcting broken links, misspellings and other errors as quickly as possible by using the DubBot quality assurance software.
- Planning ahead and informing other applicable moderators or OIC when out of the office to ensure content updates continue as needed.
Contributors have received the basic CMS training and make updates to the day-to-day content, typically at the department level. However, they are not able to approve content to the live web server. Web content additions and changes by contributors must be approved by the appropriate web moderator before going live. Contributors are responsible for:
- Creating content at the direction of, or in collaboration with, the department’s content owner.
- Completing and remaining up-to-date with web training.
- Correcting broken links, misspellings and other errors as quickly as possible for moderator approval by using the DubBot quality assurance software.
In urgent situations where moderators are not available to review and publish content in a timely manner, contributors can email firstname.lastname@example.org for immediate help.
Due to the high level of regulatory, branding and training requirements for our web presence, as well as the high level of turnover, student employees can no longer be added to the TerminalFour Content Management System as of July 2022. Student employees already in the system will be grandfathered in.
Departments will also be limited to a maximum of two moderators at any given time, unless granted an exception by OIC. In order to keep an account active, staff must log in at least once during the course of a given year.
3. Web Content Classifications
Public site content: This category includes webpages with marketing- and service-critical information for prospective and current students, faculty and staff, alumni, donors and local community members.
Internally facing content and privileged information: Content meant for internal audiences belongs in Confluence, UWF’s intranet. IT controls access to and provides training for Confluence.
Contracted sites: Sites contracted through third parties may include athletics sites, planned giving microsites, event-specific projects and library systems. These sites, while externally supported, must conform to UWF’s visual identity and accessibility standards. Also, units considering contracted sites need to consult with OIC before engaging formally with any third-party vendors. OIC can help navigate the hosting requirements and provide source files and code to facilitate the process.
4. Website Management Tools
UWF utilizes the following tools for web management:
UWF uses the EMS Master Calendar to display and organize public events occurring at or sponsored by the University, including virtual events. The calendar can be accessed at events.uwf.edu. Events are subject to manual review, but may be submitted by anyone at uwf.edu/submitevents. Please visit Event Calendar guidelines for more information.
The digital campus map is located at map.uwf.edu. OIC officially maintains map content, for edits, additions, removals or anything else, please contact email@example.com. For more information about maps, please visit Map FAQs.
Forms can be built by a number of different services, or even manually. However, because digital forms have demanding accessibility requirements, we recommend using a third-party service for all embedded forms. Some services perform better than others in regards to accessibility and responsiveness. OIC recommends using Wufoo for best results. Free accounts are available from Wufoo if your form submissions stay under a set number each month.
Accessibility Checker (DubBot)
Accessibility, quality assurance and spell-checking for UWF websites is available via the DubBot third-party service. All web managers are added to DubBot for their respective areas upon completion of the Web Manager Training. Enrollment in the service is free, and mandatory for ALL web managers. Non-web managers can request access by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Uwf.edu utilizes Google Custom Search as our site (internal) search engine. Adjustments can be made to internal results if necessary. Please email email@example.com for assistance.
OIC also actively monitors organic search results through tools such as Google and Bing Search Console. Indexing and takedown requests can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Other management methods typically require webpage and content editing to achieve desired results.
OIC also utilizes the BrightEdge search engine optimization service to adjust search strategies and content for institutional priorities.
Content Management System (T4)
For access to the TerminalFour (T4) web content management system, please refer to the Web Training webpage.
RSS feeds from news.uwf.edu and events.uwf.edu can be generated and added to your page through T4 to automatically populate results that refresh and update without any need to make manual edits or changes. OIC encourages the use of RSS feeds over manually adding stories or events, because they also automatically expire from the feeds so departments are never hosting out of date content. Please email email@example.com for assistance setting up an RSS feed.
The University uses Google Analytics to measure activity on the website, including pageviews, goal completions, link clicks and audience characteristics.
OIC can provide customizable dashboards to each web manager/unit outlining top-level statistics and trends for each UWF site. These reports are intended to spark ongoing analysis by web managers and can be supplemented with additional reports and consulting from OIC.
UWF has a centralized web analytics framework. Units adding their own Google Analytics code may result in inaccurate data collection, processing or reporting. OIC reserves the right to review, alter and approve any analytics requests, integrations and frameworks.
We do not allow extra Google Tag Manager containers controlled by third parties. You MUST use ours and OIC gets final approval over the added tracking. We will grant edit (but not publish) access upon request.
All tracking must be GDPR compliant, and this may require a consent pop-up depending on what you are tracking.
5. Required Initial Training Programs
Contributors need to take three of the four training modules. Moderators must also complete advanced web training.
6. Standards and Policies
6.1 Brand Platform and Visual Identity
The UWF Brand Portal offers comprehensive guidelines for messaging and visual identity, as well as graphic assets and standards for photography and video. High-level rules:
- The official UWF Web Styles/Layouts and UWF visual brand are the only identities that may be utilized for all websites and webpages.
- Web managers are not permitted to change fonts, font sizes, font colors and logos.
- Follow UWF Brand Standards at all times and utilize the CMS Guide.
6.2 Editorial Style
6.3 Site Structure/Layouts
OIC will set the strategic direction for the overall website architecture. All UWF webpages must follow the approved navigation structure and best practices. OIC is available for consultation about site structure.
- Avoid using site navigation to link to non-UWF websites or pages outside your own site structure. Exceptions:
- “Supersites” or landing pages, such as colleges or divisions, where a portion of the navigation is devoted entirely to routing users to subordinate departments.
- E.g. The “Departments” group on all academic colleges that send users to specific academic departments.
- OIC will approve limited exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
- “Supersites” or landing pages, such as colleges or divisions, where a portion of the navigation is devoted entirely to routing users to subordinate departments.
- Limit main site navigation to around seven items. Too many items becomes overwhelming for visitors.
- Do not take a “no-navigation” page layout and attempt to build a manual navigation.
- Do not manually switch page layouts (aka templates) without consulting OIC.
- Certain departments or units, such as colleges or academic departments, have a prescribed navigation to ensure consistency across uwf.edu. Do not deviate without consulting OIC.
- Avoid redundant section names in site structures. For example, do not have a navigation group titled “About Us” with a child page also called “About Us.”
- Do not post any copyrighted material (videos, text, images, graphics, etc.) in any form unless permission from the original copyright owner is explicitly granted.
- Follow the Photo/Video Release Policy for all applicable audio/visual content.
- Various content types developed by OIC should be used appropriately and as intended. For example, videos should not be embedded inside content types that were not explicitly designed to accommodate audio/visual media.
- Content developed for print is not appropriate for the website. This includes event flyers and PDF documents that should be a webpage or web content on an existing page.
- The UWF Photography Library is a resource for University faculty, staff and students and OIC encourages web editors to browse the available assets to find an image that fits their needs.
- Use the media library responsibly:
- Do not update, change or overwrite content that is in use elsewhere.
- Exercise understanding that the media library is not a permanent storage area.
- iFrame or script content (chat bots, tracking pixels, map or calendar embeds, video embeds not from YouTube or Vimeo, or other services) must be vetted for responsiveness and accessibility by OIC before placing on a uwf.edu webpage.
- Do NOT attempt to add tracking of any sort without consulting with OIC first.
- Public events should be submitted to the event calendar and a feed can be developed to bring those events to uwf.edu webpages. Do not embed a Google or other calendar without prior approval from OIC. Outside of the event calendar, content related to past events should be removed to avoid confusion.
- Some content types and web assets are reserved for use by OIC.
Web Accessibility Standards are part of UWF’s Electronic and Information Accessibility Policy. Please visit the Web Guidelines page for more information. ALL university web properties must conform to Level AA WCAG 2.0 standards.
6.6 Emergency Notifications Banner
OIC manages the emergency banner for the University’s homepage. Departments should refrain from posting duplicative or conflicting information on their pages.
When Should a Document Be a PDF (Instead of HTML)?
PDFs should receive sparing use on the web. Some document types make a web-hosted PDF necessary, these include:
- Documents with layout elements that cannot be created using web templates (footnotes/sidenotes/endnotes)
- Custom forms with complex interactive fields that need to be created without a budget
- Scans of historical documents
- Documents in need of annotation and collaboration
- Mathematical documents
- Legally restricted formats (such as U.S. tax forms)
- Accreditation reports
- Documents with multiple columns, figures, illustrations; or sample formats
Guidelines for Creating Accessible PDFs
The characteristics of an accessible PDF include the following:
- Documents should use PDF tags. Similar to HTML, these tags provide context to the document for screen readers.
- Text should be readable and searchable.
- No password-gated restrictions should exist on publicly posted PDFs.
- Interactive form fields should have a predefined tab order and no time limit.
- Headings should indicate the document’s reading order.
- Specified language for the text should be included in the document.
- Alt text should be used for non-text artifacts such as images.
- Color should not be used as the sole method to provide meaning or context.
Tools for Creating Accessible PDFs
A number of tools commonly in use by schools, colleges and universities include built-in accessibility support, where a user may export to an accessible PDF document in the native program. These tools include:
6.8 Social Media
Site editors must comply with UWF’s social media guidelines.
7. Domain and Subdomain Policies
Subdomains will rarely be authorized for any department and must be approved by OIC before being set up by ITS. To request a new subdomain, departments must meet with OIC and ITS jointly.
Subdomains must adhere to UWF’s visual identity standards and comply with accessibility guidelines. Content on subdomains must remain accurate and up-to-date on a real-time basis. Institutional Communications should have administrative-level access to both the system and the subdomain account. OIC reserves the right to edit content and/or discontinue subdomains that do not adhere to governance policies.
8. Content Review Cycles
Unless otherwise specified, all content managers will review their existing pages on an annual basis. Site editors will need to complete a form at the end of each annual review cycle to certify that they have looked at and updated pages of their site.
|January||Finance and Administration|
|February||Academic Affairs (division pages not listed below)|
|March||Academic departments, program pages|
|May||Other offices not listed|
|June||Admissions/Enrollment Affairs/Graduate School|
|August||Academic Engagement and Student Affairs|
9. Sites Outside the Domain and/or CMS
Sites that officially represent UWF must follow all visual identity standards, accessibility guidelines and best practices for web communications. Ideally, any site representing UWF will be managed in the University’s content management system. In the rare exception to that rule, Institutional Communications must approve the creation of the site and the tool used for managing it. Additionally, OIC must have administrative-level access to both the tool and the account. OIC reserves the right to make edits or changes to bring any site in line with governance policies and to sunset a web property that is non-compliant or out-of-date.
9.1 Non-Conforming Sites
OIC will make every effort to work with web managers, liaisons and communicators to address violations and assist in any necessary website updates.
Web managers of any division/college that violate the aforementioned guidelines will receive an email notification from OIC outlining the violation(s).
If no attempt is made to address violations within 10 business days (either a correction of the violations or a plan of action developed by the moderator and contributors to address the violations), OIC will remove access to the affected area of the CMS for each web moderator and contributor until a plan of action is presented.
If no attempt is made to address violations within 20 business days, OIC will take further corrective action, up to the removal of a website or digital property from the uwf.edu domain.
9.2 Preferred Partners
In order to work with an external vendor, please consult with OIC before engaging in any agreement. All vendors must comply with the University’s documented process.