Web Governance Policies

  1. All web content published within the UW System domain wisconsin.edu must comply with the criteria below for every type of user. In addition to these criteria, web content will be consistent within the following existing laws and policies:
    1. Federal and State laws
    2. Applicable copyright, licensing, and personal privacy laws
    3. Board of Regents policies and procedures
  2. UW System’s Web presence serves as a vital communications and outreach channel. It must effectively:
    1. Reflect the UW System brand and strategic goals;
    2. Broaden UW System’s reach to all citizens and new demographics;
    3. Offer intuitive navigation to dynamic, compelling content with accurate, up-to-date information.
  3. Each office is responsible for appointing and supervising at least one staff member who will function as a content editor to maintain its web content.
  4. Content communicated via the UW System's Web presence should emphasize the value and positive impacts of its member universities, institutions, and extension networks that serve Wisconsin citizens.
  5. All web content within UW System domains is representative of the UW System, and therefore must follow standards of appropriateness. Content must present a unified and consistent image of the UW System and adhere to policies approved by the Web Governance Committee regardless of where the site is hosted.
  6. All web content should be compliant with the W3C Accessibility standards, including compatibility with screen readers. Web content editors and developers are encouraged to create low bandwidth pages and sites to allow audiences without the latest technology and bandwidth to consume the content.
  7. Websites located on wisconsin.edu and those conducting UW System business must be functional, transactional, and interactive.
  8. Web development projects will be prioritized based on the needs of the UW System and availability of the Digital Content Manager, web developers, and technologists.
  9. Official UW System websites will include an explicit statement of purpose and prioritize its audiences and scope. All content will adhere to the stated purpose and scope.
  10. Navigation and information architecture for the UW System Web presence is primarily based on function and process as it relates to the audience, and not on the organizational chart or internal processes.
  11. UW System web content will meet or exceed standards and best practices for accessibility across the widest possible variety of platforms, browsers, and devices.
  12. Web user accounts are provided for the purpose of academic and administrative purposes only. Using UW System resources for commercial or personal use is prohibited

SiteImprove analytics has been embedded in all site pages.  Departments wanting to track page views will not embed codes (such as Google Analytics) on their own. Content editors will be given access to SiteImprove reports and dashboard, and are required to monitor quality assurance data on a weekly basis. Without notice, the Digital Content Manager will remove all broken links that are published for more than 7 days.

  • Blogs and news feeds need to be kept up-to-date.  Different sites may have different timelines, but news and/or blogs should have new content added regularly. If it has been more than 6 months since a post has been made, the blog will be reviewed by the Digital Content Manager.
  • A content management plan, including update timing and plan for generating content, is needed from the content editor to start a blog.

  • Unless permission from the original copyright owner is explicitly granted, do not post any copyrighted material (such as videos, text, images, or graphics) in any form.

  • All UWSA departments must use UW System templates in Zuse, our content management system (CMS). No other website development software or other CMS (such as Drupal) can be used.

  • Strategic direction for the overall information architecture will be set by the Digital Content Manager. All UW System pages must follow the navigation structure.

  • UW System web pages will conform to broader standards for communication and branding, as well as standards in all other areas as defined by established policies or guidelines set by Public Affairs & Communications.

  • All content on the website must be reviewed annually. Static (undated) content must be reviewed by content editors and stakeholders for continued accuracy. Dated content must be updated or removed. If there is no one to review the content, the Digital Content Manager can remove or simplify the site.

A website's design can enhance or hinder the user experience. In addition, the design assists in bringing continuity across the entirety of the UW System web presence.

  • Color, logo usage, UW System seal, fonts, and branding standards should all comply with UW System branding standards.
  • All UW System pages are required to use the standard design/theme.

The UW System Web Governance Committee recognizes the need to effectively manage its dynamic, complex decentralized organization, while at the same time preserving its history. Therefore, the committee seeks to manage the retention and disposition of its records in order to

  • Document our management decisions;
  • Provide historical references of transactions and events;
  • Demonstrate regulatory compliance, especially with Board of Regent policies, federal and state laws;
  • Enhance our organization's operational efficiencies;
  • Provide transparency for all our stakeholders.

The website is not a records management/retention tool. All UWSA offices will need to have a primary records retention plan that follows records schedules outlined at https://www.wisconsin.edu/general-counsel/legal-topics/records/. Please contact the Office of General Counsel for help and guidance on internal (departmental) process for storing and archiving documents and files**, include those featured on websites. General web retention guidelines include:

  • 5 years: Meeting agendas, meeting minutes, award notifications, memos, publications, blog entries, departmental news, presentations, event publications, images, and newsletters*
  • 10 years: annual plans and annual reports, student statistic reports*

Departments are encouraged to indicate on websites when there are more archives available, and include the contact information for how to obtain documents archived within the UWSA department. In order to maintain content that meets this policy, all content should be reviewed by content editors and stakeholders annually. Outdated content will need to be removed and archived.  The Digital Content Manager will meet with content editors and stakeholders on an annual basis to review active websites.

*All exceptions need to be approved by the Web Governance Committee and documented by the Digital Content Manager.
**This is not a complete list, but rather serves as a guide.

No file larger than 32MB can be uploaded into the CMS. Exceptions to this policy will be handled and documented by the Web Development Team. Multimedia files such as videos and extensive photo collections, as well as excessive archival data will be stored on a third party server. The Digital Content Manager will provide training on best practices for reducing file sizes, and will work closely with the Web Development Team to address storage space issues and server capacity. Make sure multimedia file formats are conducive to using space efficiently, using third-party resources when possible. Third-party resources are chosen at the discretion of Public Affairs & Communications, who would work with General Counsel to ensure legal compliance.

  • Multimedia should be used as a content element, not as a design element. Examples of multimedia as content include:
    • Sound files for instructional purposes
    • Podcasts
    • Interactive training and instructional videos
  • All videos should portray a positive image of the UW System and its actions, programs, events, activities, and faculty, staff, and students.
  • Departments must have consent from the videographer to use video on the website.
  • Please review the Max File Size Upload Policy.

  • PDFs and documents should open in a new tab or window.
  • All PDFs and documents must be accessible.
  • The website will not serve as a document repository. Document archives will be housed by each department internally. Review the File Retention on the Web Policy for more information.

  • Departments/units are encouraged to use photography on their sites. Photography should be appropriate to the subject matter of your website.
  • Images should portray a positive image of the UW System and its actions, programs, events, activities, and faculty, staff, and students.
  • Photographs should include labels depicting the people, places, objects, or events represented in the image.
  • Departments must have consent to use images and photographs not owned by the University of Wisconsin System.

Social media links must direct to official UW System-affiliated accounts.

  • All text should portray the UW System and its constituents, events, programs, and faculty, staff, and students in a positive manner. Avoid innuendos, double-meanings, and other potential accidents that could be harmful to the image of the UW System.
  • Text font, size, and color will follow all UW System branding standards.
  • Text displayed on websites should be written specifically for the web as a medium. Text that has been written for print does not always translate well to the web. Some ways to optimize your text for web use are:
    • Keep it brief. Short sentences without extraneous words work best. If the topic warrants, use a pyramid structure—keeping summary information on primary pages, then linking to pages with in-depth information.
    • Make it as easy as possible for your audience to find information on your website by keeping content on an individual web page relevant to its page title. Avoid including additional information that is unrelated to a page's main topic.
    • Make text scannable on the page by using headings.
    • “Chunk" content into categories. Display the different content chunks on separate pages or clearly separate them on one page using headings.

    • Pages should be fully formed before they are linked and published. Do not publish links to pages that have not yet been written or constructed, i.e., pages that are “under construction." Every page should contain information relevant to the website's purpose and scope.

    • Keep your web pages up-to -date. Remove time sensitive information promptly after it expires. Where applicable, use a date of last update mark so users will know that content on your page is fresh.

  • Use a professional tone consistent with UW System’s stated mission and purpose.
  • All headings, sub-headings, and text will be left justified.