University Website Governance

Introduction

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s web presence is a primary communications medium used to promote and enhance the university’s image by providing relevant and up-to-date information about our programs, research, services, and accomplishments. The website at www.ncat.edu should:

  • Establish an online identity that captures the unique brand characteristics of North Carolina A&T State University
  • Reinforce and effectively support the university’s goals outlined in North Carolina A&T State University’s strategic plan, A&T Preeminence: Taking the Momentum to 2023
  • Address audience needs and meet high standards of written and visual content and ease of navigation
  • Create a rewarding user experience that will inform users, inspire action, and create lasting relationships.

Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide a collaborative, centralized framework that governs the ongoing development, deployment, delivery and maintenance of N.C. A&T’s digital presence, and to maintain consistent uniform branding and messaging along with establishing policies, procedures, and standards that optimize operation and maintenance of N.C. A&T's website.

Operating with a finite amount of resources to support our target audience’s rapid adoption of advancing technologies, the growing demands for web-based services can only be met through University-wide solutions that streamline productivity and foster efficiency.

Effective web governance will be achieved through a structure consisting of a hierarchy of university resources adhering to established guidelines, policies, and procedures.

Governance Structure

  • University Web Advisory Council – appointed by the Chancellor, this group is charged with providing strategic direction, creating and policing adherence to standards to ensure the accuracy, consistency and integrity of the website.
  • University Web Technology Group – this group, consisting of resources from University Relations and Information Technology Services, is responsible for the design, implementation, maintenance, and quality control of the website (Content Management System) and may recommend purchases, policies and procedures to report back to the Web Advisory Council for get buy-in from university divisions and colleges.
  • University CMS Users – made up of appointed Content Management System (CMS) Content Coordinators & Contributors, they adhere to established policies and procedures to produce content to an appropriate standard.

Responsibilities of the University Web Advisory Council

  • Set strategic website goals in line with the N.C. A&T strategic plan, and the Key Performance Indicators to measure those goals
  • Establish appropriate policies, processes and procedures to govern current and future website standards
  • Set resourcing and budget authorization
  • Monitoring overall site performance

Responsibilities of the University Web Technology Group

  • Perform CMS maintenance, development and upgrades
  • Ensure compliance with all legal and regulatory standards, including accessibility and security
  • Ensure site quality, content integrity
  • Facilitate and resolve non-compliance issues

Responsibilities of CMS Users

Web Content Coordinators are expected to:

  • Access the CMS regularly and have a level of familiarity and competency in the system with the capacity to troubleshoot CMS issues
  • Work with web content contributors to ensure that their efforts remain strategic and on message
  • Review, edit and approve content created by contributors
  • Create website analytics reports and deliver to contributors
  • Categorize and tag content for re-use across the University
  • Provide training to approved CMS contributors
  • Share SiteImprove Quality Assurance reporting (broken links, spelling errors, accessibility reports) with department/college content owners and contributors
  • Use best practices for updated content, naming conventions, asset placement, and accessible HTML coding

Web Content Contributors are expected to:

  • Organize their websites in keeping with the practices defined at top levels of the A&T website
  • Edit and update existing content within their area of the web site
  • Create new pages of content as needed
  • Review web site analytics reports that provide insight into how their content is or isn’t being used

Training Requirements for Web Content Coordinators and Content Contributors

Staff, faculty, or students assigned to creating and/or maintaining Web pages for university units will be required to attend the following training sessions before given access to the CMS:

  • Completion of CMS and Web guidelines training by University Relations
  • Acknowledgment that content coordinators and contributors understand and will abide by the policies and procedures in this document

Compliance Requirements for Web Content Coordinators and Content Contributors

  • Pages launched without page content, "Coming Soon", "Under Construction" or similar type messages are not allowed.
  • Copyrighted material is prohibited unless written notification has been given from the copyright holder.
  • Website Publishing should be limited to the College/Division the coordinator is in, and any specific relationships to linked pages.

Content Strategy

It is the responsibility of the content owner in the division or college to create, edit and maintain their website content.

Content owners are the link between creation and publishing. They manage the life cycle of certain sections of content, proactively assess the content they own, give their approval for publication and remove their content when necessary.

They know the objectives of the content they own and receive information about the results. They have access to the content management system to perform their tasks or activities or they work together with Contributors and Coordinators to edit the web pages for their divisions or colleges in the content management system.

Before creating web content and pages, a content strategy should be developed. Basic questions should be determined and answered before creating assets in the CMS:

  • What is the purpose of your content?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What tone and voice speaks best to your target audience?
  • Why does your target audience need your content?
  • How is the content related to the university's strategic plan?
  • What is unique about your content?
  • What is the desired call to action once your audience sees your content?
  • How are you going to measure your results?

Once these questions are answered, the importance of which content and channels should be used can be determined and as well as the method for planning and evaluating content.

Insight can be gained from the volume, nature, and quality of content, by creating a content inventory and performing a content audit. A content inventory lists assets and where they are located. A (SiteImprove) content audit applies quantitative and/or qualitative criteria to the existing content.

University Relations can make recommendations about content strategy, but the creation of content, content audit and content inventory should occur at the division or college level with the content owner.

Website policies and procedures

Information

The purpose of policies and procedures around information is to provide consistent, accurate, current and secured information to users of N.C. A&T State University websites. This will provide several benefits such as:

  • Accurate, current and consistent information across N.C. A&T State University websites
  • A unified data organization scheme with data that can be accessed in a standard way, across multiple sites. This aids communication and interoperability.
  • Information that is secured and complies with organizational policies
  • Reducing risks to the organization, its constituents, and stakeholders

Standards and Related Policies

Websites of official N.C. A&T State University units must reside in the ncat.edu domain, unless approval is granted from University Relations. For questions, contact the Website Administrator at 336.256.0863

All university Web pages must comply with local, state, and federal laws and N.C. A&T State University’s existing policies and procedures. To ensure that the university is represented with integrity and consistency, all pages must also meet the standard N.C. A&T State University web criteria outlined or referenced below:

Information Security Plan

N.C. A&T State University has established a specific policy applicable to the technology arena. Appropriate use of computing and networking resources and ensuring the integrity of data and privacy is everybody’s responsibility. Technological and information resources and the access provided by the University to campus resources are to be governed by this plan.

The Information Security Plan applies to technology administered by individual departments, to student-owned hardware connected to the campus network, to the resources administered by central administrative departments such as University Libraries or Computing and Information Technology, and to actions originating from computer systems maintained by members of the campus community off-campus which connect remotely to the University's network services.

The Information Security Plan applies to all systems owned, managed or administered by the University and any use of those systems. Many specific areas and/or systems may have service-specific policies that apply in addition to this umbrella plan. Please refer to the entire document found at Information Security Plan.

Branding Guidelines

The N.C. A&T State University website is one of the key places audiences can learn about the university and form an impression of the institution. N.C. A&T Web pages must review and adhere to the N.C. A&T State University’s Brand Guide.

Editorial Style

Web coordinators and contributors responsible for preparing text and visual graphics for websites must consult the N.C. A&T State University Brand Guide. It details the correct way to reference how the university name should be written (first, second, third reference) and the proper use of the seal, logos and wordmarks and more.

HTML Typefaces

Web coordinators and contributors will receive access to pre-coded templates and will not have to make any determinations on typeface. However, for details on N.C. A&T’s color specification chart and primary typefaces refer to the Brand Guide.

University Official Colors

The official university colors should be the most dominant colors on any of the university sites. They should anchor all Web site designs. Hexadecimal color codes are #FDB927 (gold) and #004684 (blue). The Pantone Color Matching System (PMS) codes are PMS 288 (blue) and PMS 123 (gold).

Privacy and Collection of Personal or Confidential Information

Individuals responsible for Web pages within each department should become familiar with the university’s Web Privacy Policy. The purpose of this policy is to disclose the terms governing the collection and use of information obtained from visits to the University home website www.ncat.edu.

Internal

The privacy policies for University administrative, academic, and operational entities such as offices, divisions, departments, units, and organizations may vary from this policy. Visitors are responsible for consulting the privacy policies for University administrative, academic, and operational websites.

External/Third Party

The privacy policies for external and/or third-party websites accessible from the University home website are not governed by this policy, meaning these entities have their own privacy policies. Visitors are responsible for consulting the privacy policies for external and/or third-party websites.

Copyright

Licensing approval is not required for internal, non-commercial university use of trademarks on stationery, brochures, reports, etc. However, all users must adhere to the guidelines of this style manual. The Office of Legal Affairs provides guidance in selecting the appropriate and legal means for reproducing material in accordance with the current laws. For additional copyright information, contact the Office of Legal Affairs.

Advertising

Advertising on the Web site within the ncat.edu domain is prohibited. Alternative consideration can be given to sponsors. For questions, contact Todd Simmons, Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations.

Web Content Management System (CMS) Procedures

To assist the University website administrator in managing university web site content, as well as, provide consistency in organization and appearance of the N.C. A&T State University website, the university uses a Content Management System (CMS) for official university websites. Pages within the CMS are designed to be compatible with a variety of popular web browsers and devices, accessible for persons with disabilities in accordance with Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794d) and adherent to industry Web design standards, as well as N.C. A&T State University standards. Editors using the CMS are then free to concentrate on developing content and features for their audiences, rather than get bogged down with the technical aspects of website construction. University Relations is responsible for coordinating with departments and units to move sites into and maintain sites within the CMS.

N.C. A&T State University websites and pages should be maintained with the following principles in mind:

User-centric design

Through every step of Web design and development, consider the needs, goals, and expectations of your site’s users. Clearly define and prioritize your audiences. Then design the content, layout, organization, navigation, structure, and functionality for those audiences.

Maintaining

While individual units are responsible for keeping their sites up-to-date, University Relations will continue to review websites and offer ongoing information and advice to assist website managers.

Brand consistency

Make sure your users know your site is part of N.C. A&T State University. Design websites in such a way that every element of the site supports the university brand. Contact the website administrator at (336) 256-0863.

Strong content

Content is the heart and soul of every website. Without it, most sites wouldn’t exist. Create content that is engaging, interesting, up-to-date, accurate, on-brand and most importantly, relevant and valuable to your audiences.

Usability

Think about what your users want from your site. Consider how they want it to work, what words and language resonate and what information is most important to them. Make every element of the site intuitive for your users (not just for the site’s designers or department heads).

Visual Images

Most people prefer attractive sites, but they must also be functional. Good images and videos should be carefully considered when adding to your page. Images should be rendered in their original aspect ratio and optimized for website loading at no more than 72 dots per inch resolution. Images should have descriptive file naming and ALT tags that accurately describe what is represented for screen reader accessibility.

Accessibility (Section 508 compliance)

Like our university, our users are diverse. Site content needs to be accessible and useful to all of those users. N.C. A&T is committed to delivering accessible websites and requires that sites comply with requirements outlined in Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. (https://www.section508.gov/content/learn/laws-and-policies)

Sustainability

Keeping websites fresh and accurate requires consistent updates, revisions, and modifications. Websites should be built for simple, efficient management and evolution. Web management tools should be chosen based on the needs of the sites’ managers and contributors, not simply the Web developers or programmers.

Web Video

Videos embedded in or linked from N.C. A&T websites must be approved by University Relations. To assure quality, it is recommended that videos should be recorded and edited by professional video production companies. We require that videos adhere to the following standards:

  • Videos must have a minimum resolution of 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels).
  • Tripods should be used while recording stationary subjects. Stabilization has to be corrected in post-production.
  • Subjects should be well lit with clear features and without harsh shadows.
  • Audio should be clear and at an acceptable volume. Music, if used, must be licensed and used in legal compliance.
  • Closed-captioned encoding is required for ADA compliance.

When creating content including video, consider your target audience and the call to action (to inform, to recruit, to educate, etc.).

Content crafted with the tone and voice of the target audience is usually more effective than brochure-style content. Types of videos may have messaging for informational purposes or may have faculty, staff, and students telling their own stories. Create an outline and craft your message to develop a script. The script would provide an estimate of the time, and there the vendor would make the storyboard from the script.

Termination of Link

N.C. A&T State University reserves the right to refuse to provide a link on an official university webpage and to remove a link without notice. Content and/or links to areas found to be in violation of university policies, or local, state, or federal laws, will be immediately terminated. The following reasons are also grounds for termination of employment:

  • Content on official university websites does not adhere to the university's mission or policies.
  • Content violates United States copyright laws. To use copyrighted material including text, graphics, photographs, sound and video clips, and software on a site within the ncat.edu domain, the site developer must obtain and retain on file written permission for each use from the originating author or creator.
  • Content is obscene, offensive, or threatening.
  • Content is designed for private financial gain or compensation not relevant to the mission of the university or in violation of other official university policy, and restrictions for nonprofit organizations.
  • Content is used to intimidate or single out an individual or group for degradation or harassment in violation of federal or state law and official university policy.
  • Content is used to engage in or solicit any illegal activity in violation of federal or state law or official university policy.

University Relations upon correction of the infraction(s) may reactivate a terminated link upon review.