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/e-newsletters and other tools supporting e-communications, social media sites, and college video hosted on internal and external sites.

Note: This document is a working draft and is subject to change to meet the evolving Web and digital needs of the college.

Objective

The primary objective of this document 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 STRUCTURE

The college's governance structure will include a Digital Governance Board, Digital Communications and Technology Standards Group, and Web Content Directors. The day-to-day oversight of the college's website is shared between College Communications and Information Technology Services staff.

Digital Governance Board

The Digital Governance Board is comprised of the college's chief communications officer, chief information officer, digital director, and single representatives from the President's Office, faculty, athletics, and director/dean-level representative from Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Admission and Financial Aid. 

It is the responsibility of the Digital Governance Board to set the direction and policies for the college's website, digital properties, and the Web operating environment based on best practices and the strategic needs for Davidson. In order that directions and policies are set with a full understanding of the issues and effect of the decision, decisions appropriate to the jurisdiction of the Digital Governance Board will be reached by consensus. Consensus is defined as achievement of full support for a decision after a complete airing of differing viewpoints. Consensus is achieved through discussion. If the group cannot reach consensus, the options will be presented to the Principal Executive Staff (PES) with a recommendation for resolution.

The Digital Governance Board will continually look at opportunities to communicate relevant information to appropriate audiences and take input from the Digital Communications and Technology Standards Group, who will review requests from academic and administrative stakeholders.

Digital Communications & Technology Standards Group

The Digital Communications and Technology Standards Group is comprised of the college's digital director and associate director, ITS network/systems director, and senior managers from Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Admission and Financial Aid.

Responsibilities of the Digital Governance Groups

  • In response to the needs of Web visitors, provide oversight of and set strategic direction for davidson.edu and college digital properties
  • Establish appropriate policies, processes, and procedures to govern current and future digital and Web standards
  • Evaluate effectiveness, content, standards, and policies for editorial and technology components
  • Suggest global changes to taxonomy, structure, branding, look and feel, navigation, and styling as needed
  • Ensure compliance with all legal and regulatory standards, including accessibility, security, protection of personal information, etc.
  • Ensure site quality and content integrity
  • Facilitate and resolve non-compliance issues

Web Content Directors

Not a 'group' as much as it is a role, all department directors and chairs are Web Content Directors. These individuals are responsible for making decisions regarding their department websites and other digital properties, including blogs, social media sites, video, and email. Web Content Directors are the main point of contact for the digital communications staff and governance bodies.

Web Content Directors work with the digital communications staff at a comfortable level (from meeting regularly to provide content updates and ideas, to providing draft written content, or attending CMS training to handle some updates themselves).

Web Content Directors are invited to send ideas, requests, issues, and concerns to the Digital Communications and Technology Standards Group. These ideas, requests, issues, and concerns will be logged and shared with the group.

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 hundred 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, or Information Technology Services.

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.

Request/Appeal Process

Requests submitted to College Communications will be reviewed by the digital communications staff before being assigned. If there are questions about the request, it will be referred to digital and/or communications staff for a decision. If the requesting party disagrees with the decision, it will be reviewed by the Digital Communications and Technology Standards Group. The decision of the Digital Communications and Technology Standards Group may be appealed to the Digital Governance Board, which will make the final decision.

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.

Source: VisionPoint Marketing

Source: VisionPoint Marketing

  • College Communications Digital Staff - provide 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.

Quality Control/Workflow

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 and Technology Standards Group 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.

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 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)

Written Content/Messaging/Branding

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 Davidson College 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.

Course Listings

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 Davidson College 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.

The Office of 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 Davidson College 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.

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 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

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 Davidson 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 workshop (to be developed). This workshop will take 60 minutes, and covers a variety of topics, including preproduction planning, storytelling, video concepts, capturing audio, and editing techniques. To register for a video training complete our video training request form (to be developed). 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 video sharing sites owned or managed by college departments like YouTube, 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. This does not apply to videos posted on YouTube or other video sites, which are linked to from davidson.edu, but not on the college site proper or not directly owned or managed by college-affiliated faculty, staff, or students.

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.

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 Davidson College Graphic Identity Standards.

Mobile Applications or Apps

College departments should contact Information Technology Services and digital communications staff prior to 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 Davidson College 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 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. See also: Videos, Visual Content.

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.