University Web Services Policy

University Web Services Policy

University Web Services Policy

Title: University Web Services Policy

Subject: Strategic Enrollment Management/Rowan Global

Policy No:

Applies: University-Wide

Issuing Authority: Senior Vice President of Strategic Enrollment Management and Rowan Global

Responsible Officer: Assistant Vice President of Rowan Online

Date Adopted:

Last Revision:

Last Review:

I. Purpose

This policy governs the creation, daily operation, support, and maintenance of all Rowan University and University-related websites.

II. Accountability

Under the direction of the Senior Vice President of Strategic Enrollment Management and Rowan Global, Rowan Online shall ensure compliance with this policy.

III. Applicability

This policy applies to all Rowan University employees, students, partners and constituents external to Rowan University. 

IV. Definitions

  • Domain: A group of online resources, such as a website, that are managed under a single organization or name. An example of a domain is
  • Subdomain: A single domain that exists as part of a larger domain. A subdomain may be individually associated with a website that is distinct from the primary domain. An example of a subdomain is
  • DNS (Domain Name System): The system used to configure a domain name and any of its subdomains.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization): The process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines.
  • CMS (Content Management System): An application that allows users to create, edit, and publish content on a website. A typical CMS is hosted on the Internet and available through a web browser.
  • Content contributor: A user designated to create, edit, and publish content on a website using the CMS. A typical CMS may have multiple content contributors who work collaboratively on a single website.

V. Policy

1. Web Services

Rowan University Web Services is a team within the Rowan Online department that administers, operates, and supports the technical operation of University and related websites. 

  1. Responsibilities
    1. Website related server, software, and system maintenance.
    2. CMS operation, system management, and end user training and support.
    3. Website permissions, access, and ownership.
    4. Development and maintenance of website standards, templates, configurations, code, scripts, analytics, and integrations.
    5. Implementation of information architecture, user experience, and user interface.
    6. Technical SEO for all Rowan University websites. 
    7. Incident management for issues related to Rowan University websites.
    8. Communication and documentation of website content contributor obligations and best practices. 
    9. Project management and consultation for new website development, feature requests, and site maintenance.
    10. Compliance with US digital accessibility laws and Rowan University applicable policies and standards.
  2. Limitations
    The following is a list of services that are outside of the scope of those provided by Web Services.
    1. Any unit interested in engaging in creation of new or changes to aesthetic design and branding of a site must submit a project request with Web Services. The Web Services staff typically do not directly engage in significant design and branding work. Any such work, if approved, may require engagement of a Web Services preferred/approved vendor. The requestor must be prepared to fund vendor provided services. 
    2. Website content is the sole responsibility of approved and appointed website contributors. Web Services not responsible for website content insertion, upkeep, and maintenance with the exception of some University-level informational sites and the Web Services website.

2. Website Types

  1. Internal
    Institutional websites (also referred to as sites) that conduct official Rowan University business including, but not limited to, the main WWW site (home page and immediate subpages), college/school sites, department sites, business unit sites, research or special institutional sites, and sites for other University operated groups and organizations. Such sites are generally administered within the domain space or domains controlled by Web Services and hosted on Rowan University owned or controlled systems or cloud spaces.
  2. Enterprise Application
    Enterprise applications used to conduct official Rowan University business (e.g. Banner, Google Apps, Slate, etc.) may have a web-based user interface or presence. 
  3. External
    External websites may be affiliated with Rowan University, but do not fall under the scope of Internal websites or Enterprise Applications. External sites may include external grant-funded websites, corporate partnership or third-party organization sites, or sites managed as part of Rowan’s marketing and recruitment operations. 
  4. Website Compliance
    1. Internal websites are owned by and under the full jurisdiction and control of Web Services. These sites must comply with this policy and related University policies. 
    2. Enterprise Applications and External Websites that are not owned or operated by Web Services are the responsibility of their respective owners and are not required to be compliant with this policy.
    3. Web Services is not obligated to provide suppport for Enterprise Applications and External Websites. 

3. Domain Name Management

  1. domain
    The domain and its DNS, as applied to Internal Websites, is owned and operated by Web Services. Changes to the domain, including subdomains and redirects, must be managed by Web Services. The domain is reserved for use with Internal websites only.
  2. subdomains
    Subdomains represent individual websites within the greater domain. For example, Subdomains are reserved for very high profile websites with evidence of high traffic and high demand. 
  3. Other domain names
    For the purposes of continuity of business operations, all domain names, other than those within the domain, that are purchased with Rowan University operational funds must be owned and maintained by Web Services. 
    1. Purchase of other domain names are subject to approval by Rowan Online management. 
    2. New domain name purchases must be initiated with Web Services who will arbitrate the purchase and submit the purchase through the IRT ITAP process.  
    3. Domain names not owned and maintained by Web Services must be transferred to Web Services’s domain registrar account. 
    4. Annual costs for domain name registration are passed on to the domain name requestor. 
  4. Redirects
    Redirects are shortened links that have an affinity label that follows the main domain which are more convenient than the original Url for the site. For example, Overuse of redirects often results in technical issues and negatively impacts overall website SEO and performance. Therefore, the use of redirects is limited to high profile websites or pages with evidence of high traffic and high demand. Redirects must be approved by Rowan Online management.

4. Standards

An overview of Web Services’ standards for Internal sites are listed below. Details can be found on the Web Services website. All Internal sites must comply with the posted standards. 

  1. Technology
    Web Services manages technical (non-content) aspects of all internal websites including the content management system (CMS), hosting applications, server systems, etc. Web services is responsible for maintenance, compliance, and security of all technical web systems. In addition, Web Services is responsible for site performance, up-time, and SEO. 
    1. Web Services manages technical SEO for all websites. Technical SEO includes measurable metrics used for search engine rankings based on a website’s technical implementation which may include factors like page speed, sitemaps, CMS template design, scripts, and other related technical factors.
  2. Templates
    Web Services owns, operates, and maintains a set of pre-designed website templates for use with all Internal websites. All internal websites are required to implement one of these pre-designed templates for their site. 
  3. Scripts, styles, and other custom code
    1. Scripts
      In an effort to optimize website performance, Web Services carefully manages website script integration and oversees the implementation of all scripts, including those inserted through script services such as Google Tag Manager. Scripts are regularly evaluated for performance, security, and other factors. Scripts are implemented at the discretion of Web Services. 
    2. Styles
      Site style is determined by the style implemented for the highest level website within the Internal website architecture. For example, site styles may be set for a College or School and then automatically propagated to its departments, centers, and other site subsections. Top-level website owners may request a project with Web Services to customize site style (organization of content, color scheme, etc.) within the style and branding regulations set forth by University Relations. All styles must be based on one of Web Services’ pre-designed templates. Any effort to change style must be managed as a Web Services project. 
    3. Other custom code
      All custom code must be carefully evaluated by Web Services to ensure that it will not negatively impact any website, contributors, and end users. In addition, the evaluation will consider impacts from the custom code’s performance, integrity and security, sustainability, and long term support needs. 
  4. Analytics
    Web services will directly operate and maintain all information collection scripts and services. Exceptions will be made for integration of analytics scripts required for successful operation of Enterprise Applications at the discretion of Web Services. Requests for analytic data for specific sites must be submitted to support. In an effort to maintain compliance with FERPA regulations and University data sharing policies, individual analytics accounts are not supported.

5. Website Access, Permissions, and Ownership

  1. Ownership
    All Internal websites are owned by Web Services, who may enforce the regulations set forth in this policy at its discretion. 
  2. Web Ambassador
    The website owner may appoint a Web Ambassador, or proxy, for any website they own. Web Services will support one Web Ambassador per site.
  3. Site access
    The owner or Web Ambassador may specify permissions and roles for contributors. Changes must be submitted as a service request. 
  4. Contributor Responsibilities
    Web Services provides technical support to assist contributors with their responsibilities, which include:
    1. Must restrict system use to Rowan University official business.
    2. Must complete the prerequisite contributor training provided by Web Services prior to receiving access to any website. Contributors may be required to take renewal training with updated information from time to time. 
    3. Must ensure content compliance with Rowan University policies, protocols, and expectations.
    4. Must comply with Web Services posted practices for website ADA compliance, web content optimization, and web standards. 
    5. Must ensure that their website content is well maintained and up to date. Outdated or expired information must be promptly removed. 
    6. Must implement best practices to ensure content SEO. Content SEO refers to measurable metrics which affect search engine rankings based on a website’s content, which may include written copy, meta-tags, word count, and other descriptive assets which relate to keyword search relevance. 
  5. Access maintenance
    The website owner or appointed Web Ambassador is responsible for updating the list of site contributors on a regular basis. Only those who actively need access should be maintained on the list of contributors for a site. Contributors who change reporting departments, roles, or depart from the University should promptly have their access removed. 
  6. Web Services reserves the right to change permissions, add or remove contributors, and make changes to content for any Internal website at its discretion. Website owners and/or Ambassadors will be contacted in the event that Web Services is required to make changes without their prior authorization. 

6. Service and Project Requests

  1. Service Request
    Any request that involves an unplanned disruption of service, problems encountered while using the content management system, a minor and routine alteration to an existing website, the addition or removal of a user’s ability to access a website, or inquiries for assistance or training regarding any website or system managed by Web Services. Service requests are submitted and managed through the Rowan University Support Center.
  2. Project Request
    Any request that is not a service request or extends beyond the scope of a service request is considered a project. 
    1. Request Process
      1. Any university employee may submit a project request using the form posted on the Web Services website at any time. Web Services carefully considers each request to ensure universal and sustainable support for approved websites. The time to complete the process of evaluating and implementing a request varies with size and scope of the project and is dependent on available resources. Requestors will be informed about evaluation progress and estimated launch dates during the evaluation and development processes.
      2. Web Services carefully considers a list of factors when evaluating a project request. The list includes, but is not limited to, 
        1. Does the project fall within the scope of allowed and supported systems, services, and standards?
        2. Does Web Services have the resources to develop and maintain the project after implementation?
        3. Will the project encumber Web Services’ resources such that progress on other projects will be significantly impeded?
        4. Does an equivalent service already exist that can be reasonably adapted to meet the requirements of the project request?
        5. Does the project impact the functionality or security of other websites, systems, and operations?
        6. Will the project incur additional costs? If so, who is responsible for covering said costs?
        7. Does the project require integration with a third-party service? 
        8. Is there wide-spread value for multiple constituents such that the effort to implement and maintain the project is justified?
    2. Discovery
      All new project requests immediately enter the Discovery phase of the project. The goal of the discovery phase is to determine project scope, timeline, and feasibility. The following outlines the Discovery process:
      1. The requesting party will be asked to provide additional details and documentation about the requirements and expectations for the project. Web Services will conduct its own technical research related to the request.
      2. When enough information has been gathered from the requestor to proceed, Web Services will arrange a Discovery meeting with the requestor(s). The duration of the Discovery phase depends on factors like availability of resources, time to gather information, and complexity of the project.
      3. At the end of Discovery, Web Services will provide the requestor with a scoping document that will outline the project including a statement of work, costs, and timeline. The requestor may work with Web Services to negotiate the terms of the scoping document. 
      4. If the project as requested is not feasible, Web Services will provide an alternate project proposal and a rationale for the alternative.
      5. The project scope may include costs, to be passed on to the requesting party, if and when third party consulting, development, or software become involved in the project. 
      6. The requestor must review and approve the scoping document and its terms before any work can commence on the project. 
      7. Once approved, the project scope cannot be changed unless Web Services encounters a technical or logistical impasse that requires changes to the scope.
      8. Once the requestor accepts the plan per the scoping document, the project will be scheduled for development. 
    3. Development
      1. Project development is scheduled based on a combination of the project’s priority and available Web Services resources. Some projects may depend on schedules and resources of other Rowan departments.
      2. Development goals, schedules, costs, and timelines, as outlined in the scoping document, will be honored as best as possible during development. 
      3. Any requests from the requesting party for exceptions to deadlines and/or turnaround timelines must be made in writing and accompanied by clear written justification. Requests will be honored at the discretion of Web Services.
      4. For projects that involve new development, Web Services will conduct internal quality assurance covering all technical aspects of the project. 
        1. The requesting party will be responsible for any quality assurance (QA) testing related to end user features and functionality. Web Services will provide a specific period of time during the project for requestor QA testing.
        2. The requesting party must report all issues to the Web Services team during the specified QA period. Web Services is not required to address issues reported outside of the QA period as part of the project.
      5. The project scope, as agreed to by all parties during Discovery, cannot change. Emergency changes will be considered when the change is necessary due to an issue that makes it no longer possible to complete the project per the original scope. All other changes may be requested as a new project after the completion of the existing project. 
    4. Implementation
      Project implementation involves launching a website or putting a newly developed application or feature into production. 
      1. Web Services will coordinate an implementation plan and launch dates with the requestor. Implementation may require coordination between Web Services, the requestor, and other Rowan University departments.
      2. Once the project has been implemented and Web Services has notified the stakeholder that the project has been completed, all requests for support must be submitted as a new Service Request to the designated support ticketing system.
    5. Post Implementation
      1. Once project implementation is complete, users can submit a service request for regular maintenance and support. 
      2. Requests to add features or make enhancements following project implementation will require a new project request.
    6. Delays
      Web Services will promptly notify the requestor of any changes or delays during any stage of the project.

7. Accessibility

In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Rowan University policies, all websites to the extent feasible, must be made accessible to people with disabilities. If it is not feasible, alternative methods must be made available to complete the same tasks. Contributors to any Rowan University internal website are responsible for ensuring that their content, including web pages, images, files, and video, are compliant with all prevailing accessibility laws and regulations. More information and technical assistance is provided on the Web Services website. 

8. Privacy

All Rowan University Internal websites must comply with all applicable laws and University policies governing personal privacy and the confidentiality of information, to protect both students, employees, and website visitors.

  1. The collection and use of website analytical data must be approved by both Web Services and the Rowan University IRT Office of Information Security Service (via the ITAP process). 
  2. Websites collecting personally identifiable information must adhere to policies by the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in compliance with the Rowan University Policy for GDPR as well as provide a link to the Rowan University Consumer Information Page, which includes links to all prevailing Rowan University compliance policies and required consumer information.

VI. Policy Compliance

Violations of this policy may result in loss of access to any website, removal of website content, denial of website related service, and possible disciplinary action. Content or portions of the website found to be in violation of any compliance laws, policies, or regulations as noted in this policy or otherwise may be removed at the discretion of Web Services without prior notice. In the event of content removal, Web Services will contact the content owner regarding the violation and determine if further action is necessary.