RIT Logo with Text

Web Standards

Introduction


Purpose

The purpose of the Web Standards is to identify and define the standards, guidelines, processes, and best practices associated with the design, development, hosting, maintenance, and stewardship of secure and on-brand websites supporting the strategic and tactical objectives of Rochester Institute of Technology.

The Web Standards is a collaboration of the Division of Marketing and Communications (M&C) and Information Technology Services (ITS). These Standards are intended for use by everyone working on all official RIT websites – including websites for colleges, divisions, centers, and any RIT-affiliated websites–including vendor-developed websites.

Background

The RIT web presence is a primary gateway to information about and access to the university. Maintaining both the consistency of the RIT brand and the quality of the user experience throughout RIT’s digital environment requires a consistent application of standards. The Web Standards were created to extend the continuity of RIT’s brand identity in online spaces and to ensure consistency in the web environment regarding security, scalability, user experience, accessibility, and the use and implementation of current technology.

Ownership

Primary support for rit.edu and associated websites is led by M&C and ITS. The senior leadership of these groups provide oversight and strategic direction for the university’s web presence.

The university reserves the right to revise or delete content or websites housed either on university IT resources or external resources that do not meet acceptable use guidelines or the standards outlined in this policy.

While the Web Standards were developed with substantial input from various RIT constituencies (e.g., colleges, divisions, ITS, M&C, IT teams, etc.), ultimately the ownership and accountability for enforcement lies with the Division of Marketing and Communications and ITS.

Development

Web standards and governance are defined as an oversight system for managing an online presence in an orderly way. At RIT, web governance is facilitated through the Web Standards Steering Committee. The committee’s objective is to provide collaborative centralized governance for the ongoing development, deployment, delivery, and maintenance of the rit.edu domain and to consistently represent the RIT brand online through standard processes, roles, responsibilities, and practices.

The standards were collaboratively written by members of the University Web Standards Task Force, approved by the chief marketing officer (CMO), chief information officer (CIO), and the president of the university. They are grounded in thorough research of industry standards and best practices for usability and lawful accessibility compliance.

RIT Web Presence Task Force

  • Raman Bhalla, Assistant Vice President of University Web Services
  • Jodi Boita, Executive Director, Assessment, Technology and Communications, Student Affairs
  • Pam Carmichael, Assistant Vice President, National Technical Institute for the Deaf
  • Kevin Dudarchik, Associate CIO, ITS
  • Chris Jackson, Associate Dean, College of Art and Design
  • Ed Lincoln, Assistant Vice President, Enrollment Management
  • Aldwin Maloto, Information Security Officer, ISO
  • Sue Provenzano, Assistant Vice President, Academic Affairs
  • Marla Roberts, IT Manager, Application Development, ITS
  • Kin Sejpal, Associate Vice President Marketing Strategy and Creative Services
  • Ian Webber, Director, Teaching & Learning Services, Academic Affairs
  • Mike Yacci, Senior Associate Dean, Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences
  • Megan Bastian, University Multimedia Designer, University Marketing Strategy and Creative Services
  • Mikel Brown, Software/Systems Design Engineer Tech Lead, ITS
  • Matt Campbell, Manager App Infrastructure and Datacenter Tech Services
  • Laura Cummings, Assistant Director of University Multimedia Writing, University Marketing Strategy and Creative Services
  • Matt Dana, Director of Web and Instructional Development, National Technical Institute for the Deaf
  • Jenn Bronakoski, Communications and Marketing Manager, Student Affairs
  • Eric Koomen, Director of Communications, Marketing and Recruitment, Saunders College of Business
  • Gage LaFleur, Web Developer/Programmer, University Web Services
  • Marie Lang, Senior Multimedia Content Editor, University Communications
  • Jared Lyon, Senior Web Developer/Programmer, University Web Services
  • Aldwin Maloto, Information Security Officer, ISO
  • Rick Myles, Manager of Application Development, ITS
  • Caitlin Nairn, Senior User Experience Designer, ITS
  • Beth Prince-Bradbury, Associate Director, Institutional Research
  • Mike Toczek, Web Developer/Analyst, ITS
  • Natalie Surace, Marketing and Communication Program Coordinator, Golisano Institute for Sustainability

Maintenance of Web Standards

The Web Standards will be reviewed and appropriately revised on an annual basis with a process led by M&C and ITS that solicits input and feedback from the various web development constituencies serving RIT. The Web Standards Steering Committee reserves the right to address pressing issues with the leadership teams of M&C and ITS on a more frequent basis. In the event an urgent concern arises, M&C and ITS may propose immediate revisions.

Document Usage

The standards, defined in this document, are the requirements for any website development done by and/or for RIT as defined in the Scope section of this document.

While this document is intended to be accurate and comprehensive, it is not exhaustive of all potential situations influencing the development of a website. When situations arise in which an aspect of website development is not covered by these standards or adherence is not possible, you are advised to contact University Web Services at web@rit.edu.

Any third parties participating in website development work on behalf of RIT are expected to become familiar with the contents of these standards. The specifications within these standards should be referenced in any related Request for Proposal (RFP), Request for Information (RFI), Statement of Work (SOW), bid, or other such document requesting outside work on any portion of the RIT website.

Contact

M&C is responsible for the content and administration of the Web Standards. They may be contacted with questions, comments, or concerns at web@rit.edu.

Scope


Compliance

This standard applies to the University’s official websites. These include:

  • Academic/College websites (e.g., colleges, departments, schools, degree programs)
  • Centers and Institutes
  • Divisions and Departments
  • Labs, Studios, and Galleries
  • Administrative Functions/Initiatives
  • Conferences and other Events

Existing websites (including student web sites hosted on RIT servers) and apps are still required to continue to follow ISO standards and web security standards.

Any deviations from these standards must receive an exception from M&C and ITS. Exceptions to compliance should be requested by appropriate Website Manager/Marketing Steward by emailing web@rit.edu.

Future Phase of Web Standards

Standards will be developed to address additional web-related content and websites regarding:

  • Student/Faculty/Staff personal websites (hosted on people.rit.edu)
  • Enterprise Apps, including SASS, and Cloud hosting (e.g., myCourses, Oracle, BrassRing)
  • Internal-facing department-level apps (local intranets, business process apps)

Roles and Responsibilities


As with all major projects, websites are designed and developed with teams of people exercising their knowledge in a range of topics and subject areas. The Web Standards define the roles of those involved in website development and outlined their responsibilities in each particular assignment.

Often the head of the unit (e.g., dean, VP, or their designee)

Responsibilities include:

  • Final accountability for website
  • Final authority for any grievances escalated to the Sponsor level
  • Provides strategic direction to website manager

Often the college/division marketing delegate

Responsibilities include:

  • Requesting websites
  • Approving and maintaining content
  • Determining content editors and providing content direction
  • Liaise with web designers and developers
  • Access and review website analytics
  • Comply with branding guidelines

May also be the website manager

Responsibilities include:

University Web Services, ITS, designated RIT web developers, and/or designated vendors

Responsibilities include:

  • Managing design
  • Managing development and content administration
  • Requesting website account creation and access
  • Requesting analytics account creation and access
  • Managing website support
  • Managing editing training
  • Complying with information security standards
  • Complying with Web Accessibility Guidelines

University Web Services, ITS, designated RIT web developers, and/or designated vendors

Responsibilities include:

  • Content strategy, guidance, monitoring, auditing
  • Brand implementation, determination, monitoring, auditing
  • SEO and analytics strategy and guidance

Hosting


To ensure a secure and consistent web experience, the official RIT web presence must be hosted on the official ITS-supported web environment. This affords the following advantages:

  • Reflects university branding
  • Complies with standards-based web environment
  • Availability of information security controls
  • Access controls
  • Access to authoritative data sources
  • ITS-supported backups and software patches
  • Systems and business continuity
  • Monitored web environment
  • Efficient leveraging of university resources

Student Groups are recommended to utilize the CampusGroups platform to host their web content. Student Affairs, ITS, and Marketing and Communications will work with the student groups to determine if requirements necessitate an official website beyond the CampusGroups platform. Any such websites would need to comply with these web standards. View more details on the Student Clubs, and Student Groups Website Policy.

Website Creation Access


All official university websites will be created by University Web Services, ITS, designated RIT web developers, or designated vendors.

University Web Services and ITS are responsible for approving designated RIT web developers and vendors.

Website Lifecycle


Lifecycle of official RIT websites will be governed by project intake, development, security, and maintenance processes. All websites will undergo an annual review process.

  • Any faculty/staff member with an RIT account can request a new website or redesign
  • Requests are routed to University Web Services / M&C
  • University Web Services to review, assess, and disposition new website requests in consultation with requestor and their college/division marketing delegate before dispositioning
  • Website registration and inventory update process managed by ITS
  • Website Manager will be notified of website registration, roles, and responsibilities (process to be developed)
  • Strategy development (Requestor, Marketing Delegate, and Web Production Manager)
  • Content development (Requestor, Marketing Delegate, and Web Production Manager)
  • Design (University Web Services/Web Production Manager)
  • Coding (Web Production Manager)
  • Content population (Web Production Manager, Requestor, Marketing Delegate)
  • Review and testing (Web Production Manager, Requestor, Marketing Delegate)
  • Sign-off (Website Manager or Sponsor)
  • Change management and launch (ITS, M&C)
  • Content editing training–at project launch and as needed (Web Production Manager)
  • Maintenance request (Website Manager)
  • Tech stack maintenance (ITS)
  • Tech stack testing, validation, remediation (Web Production Manager)
  • Content maintenance (Website Manager)
  • User Interface (UI)/Design Revisions (University Web Services, Web Production Manager)
  • Tech Stack Maintenance Window (ITS to determine)
  • Annual content and functionality review
  • Request/validate renewal of sites
  • Expiration, archival, and removal of sites via Website Manager approval
  • Annual roles review

Content Management System


Drupal is the only ITS-supported content management system (CMS) available for use on the RIT web environment for official university websites. Drupal.org provides an extensive coding standard that should be adhered to during development whenever possible to ensure consistency and readability. Specific web development questions or concerns can be directed to web@rit.edu.

For more information, visit the Technical Features section of the RIT Web Developers Guide.

Branding


A brand is an enduring platform that articulates an organization’s unique identity and point of view. RIT’s brand helps us connect with our many broad and diverse audiences through consistent and relevant interactions.

To present a consistent, unified image and reinforce RIT’s branding and marketing initiatives, all official websites of the university, including colleges, institutes, schools, academic programs, departments, divisions, events, special initiatives, etc., must utilize the following approved brand elements. These brand elements–which include the creation and use of RIT logos, graphic identity standards, photography and videography, social media guidelines, and messaging and editorial guidelines – may be found on the RIT Brand Portal. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be considered when determining content of web pages as that impacts search results hierarchy. M&C may be consulted on SEO best practices.

URL Format

For consistency of URL format and search engine optimization, a descriptive sub-directory URL format is required. View Virtual Host / Subdomain Policy

Website Design/User Interface

All official RIT websites will utilize the approved website design and theme. Details can be found on the website design and user interface (UI) section of RIT’s Brand Portal.

Accessibility


RIT strives to achieve WCAG level AA compliance throughout our web presence. According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 defines how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities.

Accessibility guidelines can be found on RIT’s Brand Portal.

Information Security


All RIT websites are required to comply with the university’s Information Security Policy and Standards.

The web security standards provide measures intended to prevent, detect, and correct compromises on web servers that host confidential information or use RIT authentication services. The standard includes configuration and documentation requirements.

View web security standards

Analytics


Website analytics provide insights and data that may be used to create a better user experience for website visitors. Understanding user behavior is key to optimizing a website for key conversion metrics and can be used to evaluate the success of marketing tactics. In order to implement a comprehensive web analytics strategy at RIT, all websites must comply with analytics standards and restrictions as follows:

  • All RIT websites must be tracked using the RIT-Main Google Analytics (GA) property.
  • Each major college/division will also have its own analytics account, created by the Web Production Manager.
  • Requests for analytics tracking must be made by the Website Manager and are subject to review and approval.
  • M&C will retain ownership of and grant access to all analytics accounts. A Website Manager can request read access on behalf of others in their college/division.
  • Access to analytics accounts will only be granted to RIT email addresses.