Website Governance Guide
This guide provides a centralized governance framework for the ongoing development, deployment, delivery, and maintenance of Columbia Law School’s website by establishing standard processes, roles, responsibilities, and practices.
All website access issues should be routed to email@example.com
Web Governance Board
This policy will be administered by the Web Governance Board (the “Board”), which is composed of the Associate Dean for Finance, Strategy, and Operations (Brendan Mallee), the Associate Dean for Planning, Communications, and Faculty Affairs (Michael Patullo).
The Board is responsible for setting the overall strategic direction and administering the relevant policies governing the Law School’s website. Specific responsibilities include:
- Establishing appropriate policies, processes, and procedures to govern current and future website standards
- Evaluating the effectiveness of the website and its content, standards, and technological underpinnings
- Approving changes to critical site-wide elements, including taxonomy, navigation, branding, styling, available templates, etc.
- Ensuring compliance with all relevant legal and regulatory standards, including accessibility, security, protection of intellectual property, etc.
Decisions appropriate to the jurisdiction of the Web Governance Board will be reached by consensus. If the group cannot reach consensus, options will be presented to the dean with a recommendation for resolution.
Web Management Team
The Web Management Team (the “Management Team”) will be responsible for the day-to-day management and administration of the website. The Management Team is comprised of representatives from the communications and technical teams: Front End Developer (Elijah Davis), Web Communications Manager (Lindsey Jones), Programmer Lead (Boris Niyazov), and CIO (Frantz Merine).
The Management Team will work collaboratively to assess requests from internal clients, complete projects, and continuously introduce improvements. The work of the Management Team will be recorded in JIRA, and the group will meet once per week to review all JIRA tickets and web requests received, as well as to provide progress and status updates for longer-term projects. The Management team will refer policy issues to the Web Governance Board as appropriate.
Web Editors Advisory Committee
Soliciting and incorporating the feedback of web editors from across the Law School is critically important to the continued development and improvement of the website. The Web Editors Advisory Committee (the “Advisory Committee”) will be comprised of a small number of web editors with substantial properties within their domain. The Advisory Committee will provide input on proposed changes and help to disseminate relevant information to fellow colleagues with web editing privileges. The Web Governance Board and the Web Management team may consult with the Advisory Committee as appropriate, and will convene the Advisory Committee at least once per semester to provide relevant updates.
The Law School’s website is the joint domain of two departments: the Communications team, which is responsible for all content, visual style, user experience design, and managing web governance approved front-end development in conjunction with the IT team; and the IT team, which is responsible for triage, users, permissions, database management, CU IT collaboration, and technological infrastructure. These two teams work together to manage the larger website.
The website is divided into several smaller components, called microsites. These microsites typically correspond with a particular administrative unit (e.g., the Business Office), functional area (e.g., J.D. Admissions), or research center (e.g., the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law).
These microsites are divided into two groups: Core and Non-Core. The Core Site includes the Law School’s primary external-facing pages that garner the highest proportion of web traffic. The Non-Core site is comprised of the balance of pages, including those for administrative offices, centers and programs, and student groups.
Each microsite must have a dedicated web editor. The owner (or owning unit or organization) is responsible for designating a web editor.
Web editors are responsible for maintaining their designated department’s, center’s, or program’s microsite.
Web editing includes:
- editing existing content
- adding new content
- creating new pages
- updating menus and navigational elements
- formatting and uploading images
- uploading files
- entering calendar events on law.columbia.edu
- updating faculty bios on law.columbia.edu
- Keeping your site’s written and visual content consistent with our style guidelines and accessibility standards
Access to the website’s editing environment will be provided by the IT team. These credentials are to be used by that user and that user only. Sharing of login credentials will result in a revocation of permissions. The Management Team will periodically review the activity of all users and may modify or remove permissions for users that have been inactive for an extended period of time. To request additional content editors or modifications to existing permissions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Required Training for Main Site (law.columbia.edu):
User credentials are assigned through IT. Please review the Drupal web editor’s guide for our main site.
Training for the main Law School site is held twice a semester. Send issues and training requests to: Helpdesk@law.columbia.edu
Required Training for CU IT Sites:
Before receiving the necessary credentials, Editors must complete required trainings. Only editors who have been formally trained will be given access to the content management system. The following three training programs are required for all web editors:
How to Use Columbia Sites, Content Strategy and Search Engine Optimization
Columbia Sites Accessibility
Law School Branding and Style Guide
Web Management Training
Editors will be required to be familiar with the CU Sites User Guide as part of their ongoing web editor responsibilities.
To arrange for training, please contact email@example.com
While each site is different and needs to vary greatly across the Law School, it is important that web editors take responsibility for determining their own internal workflow. Here are some relevant guidelines:
When changes are made to existing pages, it is always wise to seek out a second person to review the webpage(s) content before publishing.
Web content should be kept for no more than three years. Content should be updated with relevant content as much as possible. If there is important content that needs to be kept for posterity offline, please store the content in another form (such as, a google drive document tied to your uni account) as the website is not an archive for all content that has been published at any given time.
When creating new pages, seek out the expertise of the Communications team for input on design, content strategy, navigation, and quality assurance testing.
Always refer to the Law School’s style guides to ensure consistency in the use of visual identity and messaging
When our new core website (law.columbia.ed) is launched, all new content entries to the Law School’s website will be reviewed by the Management Team prior to being published.
The Communications team will audit the entire website on a periodic basis and will have the ability to correct issues such as blatant spelling mistake(s) or factual error(s) without consultation with the relevant web editor. If errors of this sort are recurring, the Communications team will relay the concern to the manager of the area and may suspend editing privileges until it is resolved.
In addition, as part of its audit, the Communications team may be in touch with web editors to convey feedback, including detailing required changes (alterations necessary to be in compliance), requests (alterations that are preferred and would better align a page with relevant standards), and recommendations (suggested improvements that would enhance the quality or performance of a site but are unrelated to issues of compliance). In addition, the team will also review all news and events entries for spelling, grammar, and style.
Great user experience needs great content. The most important part of content strategy is to write clear, useful, and short descriptive text.
Please review and adhere to the Law School Communication's guide to producing web content that is effective and accessible.
Logos & Institutional Identity
All parts of the site must conform with the Law School’s visual identity guidelines, including the use of logos, colors, and official marks. The full style guide is to come in Summer 2018.
All written content on the website must conform with the Law School’s editorial guidelines. The Law School follows AP style with exceptions. The full style guide is to come in Summer 2018.
Photography should be naturalistic, capturing the authentic interactions among a diverse set of students and faculty at Columbia Law School. We never use stock photos when depicting students, faculty, alumni, or law school facilities. Use photography that shows our community engaged and active in discussion, study, or academics. Environmental photos should give a sense of place and showcases Columbia University’s beautiful campus and architecture. Columbia Law has students and faculty from around the world—our photography should represent that global viewpoint.
In most cases, an optimal image would be 4000 pixels wide and 3000 pixels tall and can be cropped or reduced to fit any specification. To create images that can be viewed at full resolution on all screen sizes, photographers should use cameras shooting at 12 megapixels or higher that creates an image that is 4000 pixels wide and 3000 pixels tall. 300 dpi resolution or higher is required for print, while 72 dpi is the minimum for web.
Image dimensions will depend on your microsite’s structure and properties. All Columbia Sites images follow their photo requirements.
Communications Image Resources
The Communications team maintains a digital asset management system with photography from yearly law school events and any photoshoots we host. Users you can request a particular image from our archives by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our photo library is not exhaustive, however. Communications can purchase stock photography when needed on a project by project basis. Again, we never purchase stock photography of students, faculty, or staff.
Communications selects hero photos for departmental websites. These may be rotated out at the change of a semester or at the end of the year. If you would like your hero photo changed, please contact email@example.com. Web editors are responsible for all other photos on their pages in accordance with the Law School guidelines. Yearly, Communications will audit the hero visuals on the center and program microsites on the Columbia Sites’s platform, making recommendations when appropriate.
Faculty Profile Photos
To ensure a uniform, professional appearance when viewing faculty and staff profiles, official portraits must be used. Faculty members are welcome to use their own pictures on personal websites.
Accessibility and Compliance
It is critical to make our site accessible to all users. When adding photos, include “Alt Text” so that those who are visually impaired and using text browsers can know what your picture or illustration looks like.
For inquiries related to visual contact The Office of Communications and Public Affairs at Columbia Law School.
Video content must complement existing materials and adhere to the Law School’s identity standards. Videos should also be consistent in style, tone and message.
The Communications team manages a curated Youtube channel for videos about our community, students, and scholarship. If you have video content you think is the right fit for our channel, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
All web editors should have access to a Vimeo account through IT to upload and embed video content on their website. Please contact email@example.com for more information
The Law School’s Office of Communications has access to all areas of the Columbia Law School 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 university naming conventions and branding. The school reserves the right to revise or delete content housed either on school IT resources or external resources that do not meet acceptable use guidelines or the standards outlined in this policy.
The only course description which can appear on the Law School’s web properties is the Registrar’s Office description. Web editors should link to the course as it appears on the course catalog page. Editors cannot post a link to a Word Document or a PDF that includes the department’s own course description. The Office of Communications reserves the right to take down such links.
Departments and Centers should contact firstname.lastname@example.org prior to launching mobile applications to ensure the applications follow Columbia Law School branding standards.
Yearly Communications reviews the analytics and content of its web properties. We recommend you try to review your analytics at least once a semester.
Websites hosted through CU IT’s site’s platform may review their own google analytics on their own. Questions on how to do so should be send to IT by email@example.com
All changes are to be posted and all pertinent parties notified of major changes and or outages, third-party integrations, operations, and capacity planning (with reports and metrics from our hosting vendor). Appropriate change management and communications with the hosting provider will be followed. The IT Department will post all major planned events on the IT webpage.
Even though some departments may be able to make financial investments for web work on their behalf, all work orders must be approved by the Web Governance Board. This is also the case for any request for proposals issued for website work.
All content will be held and propagated to the site using the Law School's approved Content Management System and its implemented version. No other software product may be used within Columbia Law School. Additional sites, upon approval, may be linked to when appropriate. All content editors are expected to ensure all “links” are live, tested, and appropriately implemented.
All web editors should familiarize themselves and follow the ADA Compliance guidelines. IT Web Services will run all site pages through a W3C compliant validation product, currently, CynthiaSays™, to ensure 508C compliance.
For users with websites hosted on CU IT's Sites platform, their Accessibility course is required training for all content contributors and web editors.