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Policy No: 6090
Effective Date: 11/16/21
Web Governance Policy
Basis for Policy
Web governance comprises the policies, processes and standards for web communications management. According to industry expert Lisa Welchman:
|Digital governance is a framework for establishing accountability, roles, and decision-making authority for an organization’s digital presence — which means its websites, social channels, and any other Internet and Web-enabled products and services.|
Maintaining our standards is crucial to ensuring that our digital communications remain accurate and engaging.
In consultation with stakeholders across the institution, we've established web governance policies to empower units to quickly create and publish engaging, accurate, consistent and relevant digital content that supports UNMC's mission. The policies set forth here dovetail with the processes and standards established in the Web Style Guide and are supported by required web training courses.
Strategic Communications and Information Technology jointly maintain and enforce these policies in cooperation with UNMC’s web governance board and web advisory group.
Digital Communications Core Values
An audience-first approach to UNMC's digital presence is a natural extension of our commitment to leading-edge research, rigorous education and transformative patient care. Focusing our approach on our audiences helps to make our site approachable and easy to use.
Primary audiences for UNMC’s external web presence include:
- Prospective students
- Prospective faculty/researchers
Secondary audiences for UNMC’s external web presence include:
- Prospective staff
- Current students
- Research and business partners
- The local community
- Patients (This audience primarily falls to our clinical partners, including Nebraska Medicine, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and others.)
Prioritization of digital projects will be based on the needs of UNMC's most important audiences, and institutional resources will be allocated accordingly. The Web Governance Board sets a roadmap for new digital initiatives, and the Web Advisory Group ensures representation and communication across the institution.
The navigation and information architecture for UNMC’s digital presence is based on primary audience needs rather than on the university’s organizational chart or internal processes.
University websites should enable visitors to find desired information and complete intended transactions quickly. The UNMC website shall be designed to best serve all audiences by focusing on our website visitors’ needs. User-centered design principles shall be implemented in tandem with usability testing.
Effective brands maintain a consistent experience across all properties. Consistency is the most important factor in ease of navigation and effective communication. UNMC websites and all digital presences must conform to UNMC's standards for communication and branding.
Accessible and Secure
UNMC digital content must be accessible to all site visitors, including those with disabilities. Official UNMC sites must follow current legal guidelines, at both the national and state levels.
Accessibility is covered in our Web Style Guide and required training courses.
Presentation of digital content should be optimized for all reasonable consumption situations: tablets, smartphones, non-smartphones and other mobile devices, different modern browser brands and versions, and various connectivity speeds.
UNMC sites must also meet or exceed standards and best practices for system security, secure transactions, and protection of personal data and identity.
Centralized Oversight Responsibilities and Resources
Strategic Communications and Information Technology jointly oversee UNMC’s web presence with the following division of labor:
Strategic Communications’ Responsibilities
Strategic Communications’ responsibilities fall into two categories: general oversight and fee-based services.
- Managing brand consistency for all aspects of content, design and visual identity on the public website.
- Providing editorial oversight for the site’s tone, voice, themes and messaging.
- Collaborating with department and office communicators and marketing professionals on content and design.
- Collaborating with Information Technology on web tools and integration points with other systems.
- Creating and communicating web policies and guidelines.
- Conducting a cyclical page and content review.
- Managing the top-level, marketing sections of the website.
- Regularly reviewing site analytics and conduct A/B, multivariate, and usability tests to identify opportunities for improvement.
- Deploying site-wide emergency alert notifications.
- Reviewing requests for new sub-sites.
- Reviewing the content plan and information architecture for new sub-sites.
- A database of photography for content contributors to use.
Strategic Communications also provides on a fee-for-service basis the following support:
- Writing copy for web pages and features, beyond top-level pages.
- Copy editing and proofreading content.
- Redesigning or developing sub-sites, including content, site structures and information architecture.
- Providing custom photography (shooting, cropping, optimizing) for web pages.
- Creating visual and graphic design elements for use on web pages.
- Producing videos for high-priority initiatives.
Information Technology’s Responsibilities
Information Technology is responsible for the overall management of the technical environment that supports our web presence. IT has a full-time developer position embedded in Strategic Communications. The responsibilities of this role include:
- Administrating the content management system, databases, and other systems and tools (system management, stability, and upgrades).
- Managing web analytics access.
- Configuring and managing of the website’s search engine.
- Integrating approved third-party systems, tools, and business applications. There may be a charge for this service.
Other IT responsibilities include:
- Administrating new and existing user accounts for website editors.
- Building unit-or department-level site structures in the content management system.
- Providing ongoing training in the content management system for authors, editors, and publishers.
- Assisting editors with questions and troubleshooting issues.
Governing and Advisory Boards
UNMC has a governing board that prioritizes and funds web initiatives across the institution. UNMC’s advisory board represents different areas of the institution and identifies issues and opportunities for the governing board to address.
Web Governance Board
UNMC's web governance board reviews, prioritizes and approves requests for new features and functionalities for UNMC's digital properties — particularly those requests that require financial investment and that will benefit multiple units across the institution.
Information Technology and Strategic Communications co-chair the web governance board.
Appointment to the Board
Appointed by senior leadership from their respective areas and holding positions of authority and influence, web governance board members serve until their supervisors designate new team members to succeed them.
Governing Board Areas and Members:
The board’s membership reflects representation from key areas across the institution that include, but are not limited to:
|Information Technology (co-chair)||Strategic Communications (co-chair)|
|Colleges and Institutes||Business and Finance|
The web governance board meets annually to create a roadmap of web improvement efforts and to approve corresponding budgets. Once the board has approved the annual roadmap, Strategic Communications will review subsequent requests and escalate them to the board through the year, as necessary.
The board meets quarterly to review the progress of approved projects and to disposition new requests.
New requests, disposition of requests and the governance board’s meeting cadence will be communicated to the web advisory group and to campus web content developers via a listserv and the unmc.edu Sharepoint site.
Web Advisory Group
UNMC's web advisory group includes representation from across the institution. Members are either nominated by deans and directors or invited by Strategic Communications. Members of the advisory group serve indefinitely.
The advisory group's responsibilities include:
- Identifying issues and opportunities related to improving UNMC’s web presence. These opportunities include requests for content management system template modifications, new visual design needs, new tools, and other new features.
- Providing peer-to-peer support and expertise.
- Sharing ideas and discussing site development issues.
- Serving as liaisons between their areas and Strategic Communications, Information Technology, and the Web Governance Board.
The web advisory board meets quarterly.
Multiple units and areas across UNMC share the responsibility for managing the institution’s web presence. Properly trained content contributors at division, department, and office levels may edit and publish existing content through content management systems managed by Strategic Communications and Information Technology.
Baseline qualifications for content contributors include:
- Permanent full-time or part-time employment status.
- Computer proficiency: experience with word-processing software and browser technology, as well as a high level of comfort producing and maintaining web content.
- Strong writing skills: attention to grammar, punctuation, tone, and style.
- Basic knowledge working with multimedia: the ability to select and optimize photographs and work with video files.
- Official responsibility: web management duties should be a formal part of a content contributor's job description.
The process for gaining content contributor access includes the following:
- Please have your supervisor complete an authorization form that confirms your role as a content contributor for your area.
- Strategic Communications will assign you to online training modules. These courses also are available on-demand in nebraska.bridgeapp.com under UNMC Web Content Management.
Once you’ve completed all the required initial training and you’ve signed your in-course acknowledgement of UNMC’s Web Style Guide, your account will be enabled with content contributor permissions in the system.
Initial Training: The training program provides a strong foundation for managing web communications. Topics covered in the training program include:
- Principles of User-Centered Design
- Writing for the Web and Foundations of SEO
- Web Style Guide
- Content auditing
- Photography and Videography Asset Management
- Content Management System I: Using the CMS
- Content Management System II: New Templates, Components
Completing the modules will require a total of roughly five hours.
To make changes to section-wide navigation, create new pages, or make substantial changes to existing pages, content contributors need to consult with Strategic Communications by submitting a simple request form. As a general principle, any new page or set of pages must have four items in place:
- A clear audience or set of audiences
- A clear content strategy
- An individual owner
- A predetermined review cycle
Maintaining CMS Access
In order to keep a CMS account in good standing, content contributors will need to:
- Log into the system at least once a year
- Follow our web standards and guidelines in maintaining pages
Content contributors whose accounts remain inactive for more than one year will be notified that their access will be removed by Information Technology.
Web Content Classifications
Web content representing the work of UNMC and its faculty, researchers and staff is presented within unmc.edu and the Cascade content management system. This environment automatically applies UNMC branding and visual identity.
There are limited exceptions to the use of Cascade. For example, the need to place web content behind a log-in will be handled within UNMC's branded instance of WordPress. Rarely, the need for research functionality that can't be provided within Cascade will warrant another environment. In these cases, Strategic Communications will refer requests to and collaborate with the UNMC Research IT Office.
Requests for new sites, features, content and other changes in Cascade or WordPress may be submitted to Strategic Communications, via request form. Domain names will follow the convention of unmc.edu/sitename. The subdomain construction – sitename.unmc.edu is reserved for web applications and may not be used without permission from Strategic Communications and Information Technology. Follow these procedures to submit a request.
Our intranet – info.unmc.edu – contains password-protected content for our internal community — current students, faculty and staff. The intranet is managed by Strategic Communications.
Content intended solely for the internal UNMC community should be placed on [info.unmc.edu], rather than [www.unmc.edu, which is intended for our external audiences. Linking from www.unmc.edu to content on info.unmc.edu should be avoided so that our external audiences are not confronted with a log-in in order to reach content.
An exception is allowed for the use of audience gateways on www.unmc.edu for internal audiences, such as current students, faculty and staff. When included in an audience gateway, links to password-protected content is allowed.
Requests for blogs will be handled within the UNMC-branded instance of WordPress. Requests may be submitted to Strategic Communications via this form.
Sites for Student Organizations
Student organizations may establish a webpage on Engage, a campus-wide tool provided by the Office of Community Engagement.
Contracted sites and applications include online services and other websites that are sponsored by, endorsed by, or created on authority of the institution or any of its departments or administrative units but that aren't hosted or managed in our content management system. Examples include the UNMC jobs site and the UNMC brand guidelines site, Brand Wise.
The IT Architecture Review board must perform a solution assessment and risk assessment before any unit purchases or subscribes to a service from a contracted site or application.
While contracted sites and applications are hosted externally, they must adhere to our branding, web standards and guidelines, as detailed in the Web Style Guide. Any exceptions or deviations must be approved in advance by Strategic Communications. When subscribing to a contracted site or application, units must, at minimum, subscribe to a level that allows removal of the vendor’s branding, commonly referred to as white labeling.
Contracted sites and applications also must comply with federal accessibility requirements like all other institutional sites.
Units that publish information on a contracted site or application are responsible for ensuring the currency, factual accuracy and editorial quality of all information presented on the site.
Web Publishing Tools
In addition to UNMC’s two enterprise-level content management systems — Hannon Hill Cascade Server and WordPress — UNMC also has enterprise accounts with a number of related tools and services that include:
- Accessibility, Broken Links, and Other Issues: SiteImprove
- Search: Google Custom Search (eventually, Elastic Search)
- SEO Research: SEMRush
- Calendar: Localist
- Forms: A web forms solution is on the roadmap for UNMC. When a solution is deployed, content contributors should be allowed access to the tool.
- Analytics: Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager
- Digital Asset Management (photo database): WebDAM
- E-newsletters: Constant Contact
- News Tool
- Content development, site planning: GatherContent
Content contributors may gain access to these tools through Strategic Communications.
Web Standards and Policies
All web communications should comply with UNMC’s prevailing standards.
Branding, Visual Identity, and Editorial Standards
Our institution’s identity is priceless, and our web communications should bring that identity to full digital life. UNMC’s full list of standards around logo usage, photography and video, color palette, and writing and word usage reside on UNMC’s Brand Wise site.
UNMC follows an established naming convention for pages.
Like all other higher education institutions in the United States, UNMC is legally required to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA. This requirement is set by the federal government. Failure to meet the guidelines can result in a remediation process, and potentially even fines. More important than the legal concerns, however, is the philosophy that we want to provide all of our site visitors with the same quality of experience, regardless of the assistive technologies that they may be using.
WCAG was designed with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally. The WCAG documents explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities.
Accessibility is included in the required training curriculum for content developers. More information about web accessibility standards can be found at W3C Accessibility Standards Overview and on UNMC Policy No. 6081, [[[Social Media]].
Social Media Accounts
UNMC supports the use of social media — blogs, wikis, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and other social platforms — to connect with patients, students, colleagues, alumni and friends. Because many community members use these platforms in both their personal and UNMC’s social media guidelines are meant to permit appropriate use of social media, while prohibiting conduct through social media that is illegal or against UNMC policy or professional standards.
To set up a new social media account, please contact Strategic Communications and review the social media guidelines at Brand Wise.
Additional guidelines for social media usage reside at .
Other Policies and Guidelines
UNMC maintains a policies and guidelines knowledge base that contains information related to privacy, server storage and security, and other topics related to web communications.
Content Review Cycles
Reviewing our content regularly is essential in keeping our site accurate and up-to-date. To that end, Strategic Communications will contact areas that identify existing issues and pages that need to be reviewed. In addition, the "stale content" widget within the content management system can provide real-time feedback on assets or pages that have not been updated in some time.
To ensure that content remains accurate and up-to-date, Strategic Communications leads ongoing audits of UNMC’s web presence throughout the year. Content contributors will engage in this process by reviewing their pages, enlisting the support of subject matter experts, and making any necessary updates to their sites.
When an employee leaves the organization, the content manager for that unit should find and edit mentions of the employee on unmc.edu, including in pdfs. The exception is when the mention is in a news story. News stories that mentioned the former employee will not be edited to remove the former employee’s name.
If the person who leaves the organization had access to Cascade content management system, the unit administrator should complete a request to remove that person’s access and to add access for another staff member.
Content Archival Policies
In the annual site audit process, any content that is out-of-date will either be updated or removed from the site and deindexed. Any page lacking an individual owner will either be reassigned or removed from the site and deindexed. Finally, any page receiving fewer than 500 pageviews in the course of a given year will receive additional scrutiny to determine whether the page should continue to exist.
Sites Outside the CMS
We expect existing and new web properties to use the institution’s toolkit of visual design templates built into our approved content management systems. There are limited exceptions that allow sites to be built outside of the unmc.edu domain and content management systems.
New Grant-Specific Sites
If UNMC is the primary investigator of a funded grant that requires a web presence, the site must be built using UNMC’s branding guidelines, and the first preference for the underlying content management system is Cascade. If the necessary functionality doesn't exist within Cascade, then Strategic Communications will assist in employing an alternate solution, in collaboration with the Research IT Office.
Other New Web Properties
In a few specific situations, creating a web property outside of our CMS and existing visual interface design may be acceptable. Those situations include times where:
- The strategic objectives of the new site require functionality that doesn't currently exist in the CMS and that cannot be built in a timely or cost-effective way.
- The site meets a critical need that justifies short-term creation outside of the institution's environment, with a long-term plan for migration into the site's templates and CMS.
- The site requires a new visual design for a specific purpose (for example, co-branding for a jointly sponsored event).
In these instances, approval from Strategic Communications is required prior to the site's development. The website request must first be submitted to Strategic Communications. Once approval is given for an outside web property, faculty and staff must conform to the following guidelines:
- The site must meet the accessibility guidelines outlined in our governance policies.
- The site must adhere to the institution's visual identity standards and editorial standards.
- The site must have a link back to the parent site in either the header or the footer of all pages.
- The site should utilize the proper analytics codes for our Google Analytics account and any related tracking mechanisms.
- The site should have a specified date for archival or migration into the CMS.
Preferred External Partners
When creating a site outside of the CMS and visual interface, please contact Strategic Communications for preferred partners before turning to other third-party sources. You should ask for no fewer than two bids for your project.
Sites not conforming to our guidelines may not use UNMC's logo or in any way imply that the institution has approved or sanctioned those sites. Managers of non-conforming sites must work with Strategic Communications to establish a reasonable timeframe for either sunsetting their sites or assuring that their sites meet the institution’s brand standards and accessibility guidelines .
- Strategic Communications, 402-559-6668
- Information Technology, DevOps, 402-559-2059
- UNMC Policy No. 6001, Strategic Communications
- UNMC Policy No. 6030, Informed Consent for UNMC Media Production and Distribution
- UNMC Policy No. 6078, Off-campus Photography
- UNMC Policy No. 6080, Secondary Logos
- UNMC Policy No. 6081, Social Media
- UNMC brand guidelines site, Brand Wise
- Web Style Guide
- Cascade CMS Access Request Form
- Domain Name Process and Request Form
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