Web Policy and Guidelines
This file was modified on: June 29, 2009
Send comments to: Web Policy Council,
Ted Hattemer, chair, firstname.lastname@example.org
A. Roles of Web-enabled Technology
Support of Web-enabled Mission
The Ohio State University recognizes the
value and potential of Web- enabled technology as a tool
to support its mission of teaching, research, and service.
Therefore, faculty, staff, students, and academic and administrative
units are encouraged to take full advantage of the technology
available to assist the university in accomplishing that
The university shall develop and maintain
a comprehensive Web presence. This presence will be represented
by university Web initiatives in instruction, libraries,
research and research administration, student services,
university, college and department administration and a
variety of other university- related activities. Roles of
and appropriate usage of Web-enabled technology will be
Ohio State Homepage
The Ohio State homepage will welcome visitors
and serve as an institutional direction-finder, as well
as a focal point of contact to and from other related Web
sites. It is intended to provide information that addresses
our constituents and their needs and interests. Selected
university operations will have Web sites that will be considered
core to the Ohio State homepage. Such Web sites must to
meet particular standards of design and organization. Electronic
pages that support the university's mission may be linked
to the Ohio State homepage and/or reside on university servers.
Other Ohio State Web Sites
University units (faculty, staff, and
students therein) that wish to provide information via Web-enabled
technology are encouraged to do so. Any academic unit, administrative
unit, or individual considering the development of Web pages
must clearly define the intent of that site, and, therefore,
the resources and content required for it to accomplish
B. Web Page Standards
Contents of all electronic pages must
be consistent with The Ohio State University's policies
and local, state, and federal laws. This includes links
to other pages or computers. Pages found to be inconsistent
with such policies and/or laws may be disconnected from
the university's homepage and other top level pages. (See
CIO: IT Policies and Guidelines: "Policy on Responsible
Use of University Computing Resources" at cio.osu.edu/policies/use_policy.html)
Anticipate Required Resources
By the nature of Web-based technology,
an expectation and a unique and challenging opportunity
for currency of information exists. Consideration should
therefore be given to the staff and technical resources
that will be needed to establish and operate this site on
a reliable basis, including appropriate hours of availability.
Participation in this distributed technology requires maintenance
and currency of information provided. Pages with time- sensitive
information that are not maintained may be disconnected
from the university's homepage and top level pages. Accordingly,
initially it is important to consider the type of Web presence
needed and the resources necessary to maintain the site.
Web Site Definitions and Minimal Requirements
1. Static Site
Provides minimal information about the
unit or organization that is not likely to change with regularity
(i.e., mission, organization, contact information). Recommended
for units that do not have resources available on an ongoing
basis to maintain Web page information. Such sites can be
created using templates and standard graphics that are available
Requires a commitment to respond to inquiries directed to
the page's identified Webmaster in an appropriately expedient
2. Reference Site
Communicates information that changes
on a regular basis and must be kept current in order to
serve the needs of constituents and site visitors. Requires
the assignment of a Webmaster within the unit or organization
and must be kept current within reasonable expectations.
Requires a commitment to respond expeditiously to inquiries
directed to the identified Webmaster.
3. Dynamic Reference Site
Provides for a unit to conduct its "business" --instruction,
research, administration, service-- via Web-enabled technology
and to maintain two- way communication with constituents
and site visitors. Significant requisite investment of human
and technological resources must be allotted to meet the
expectations and needs of the user. Requires continuous
staffing to maintain currency and business flow, to enable
communication, and to respond to user requirements.
4. Restricted Access Site
Provides a validation system by which
users can be authenticated, tracked, and given access to
sensitive information. Significant requisite investment
of human and technological resources must be allotted to
meet the expectations and needs of the user. Requires permanent,
constant staffing to maintain currency and business flow,
to enable communication, and to respond to user requirements.
Other technical issues include, but are not limited to,
server access outside of the Ohio State domain, speed of
server, number of users allowed on the system, and others.
5. E-Commerce Sites
E-Commerce sites provide a system where
users conduct financial transactions by electronic means.
E-Commerce often refers to purchases from online stores
on the Web, known as E-Commerce Web sites, virtual- stores,
or Cyberstores. E-Commerce can either be conducted business
to business, or transactions can take place between businesses
and consumers. Significant requisite investment of human
and technological resources must be allocated to meet the
expectations and needs of the user. E-Commerce Web sites
require permanent, constant staffing to maintain currency
and business flow, to enable communication, and to respond
to user requirements. Other technical issues include, but
are not limited to, server access outside of the Ohio State
domain, speed of server, number of users allowed on the
system, and others.
Web Site Security
Web server software needs to be secured.
Also, it is important to be aware, if writing executable
code or CGI scripts for Web applications, that there are
inherent security risks. Knowledgeable programmers should
be tasked with reviewing, if not writing of, such code to
prevent security problems. Web server equipment and operating
systems that Web servers run on must to be secured by knowledgeable
The head of the unit assigned responsibility
for the site will determine whether it is of benefit to
the unit for individual department members and/or its students
to have personal pages linked to the unit page.
The head of the unit assigned responsibility
for the Web site may, when notified, remove pages and links
containing material that violates local, state, or federal
laws, or policies of The Ohio State University.
Linking Pages to the University Homepage
University units that link to the university
homepage and/ or reside on a university central server must
meet the following requirements:
1. The information
provided on Web page(s), and any links to it (includes links
from the site to other sites), are directly related to the
fulfillment of the unit's mission at The Ohio State University.
2. The dean or the department or organization
head provides written approval of the link and accepts responsibility
for the content of the site and any links that may be made to it.
3. All criteria in the Web Page Standards
4. The URL (www.osu.edu/newmedia)
must be used to request a link to the university's server, or to
request space on the server.
Web Site Content
All pages must comply with the university's
Policy on Responsible Use of University Computing Resources
which requires, among other things, compliance with intellectual
property law. No homepage can contain any copyrighted or
trademarked material without permission except as permitted
by law. Photographs, drawings, video clips, or sound clips
may not be used on a page without permission of the person
who created them or who owns the rights except as permitted
Where content currency is of concern to
the viewer of any Web page, consideration must be made for
providing "last revised" or other notice of currency
of the information. Different levels of currency should
be reflective of the latest practices in the field, the
process of doing business, and the historical and archival
significance of the information.
All pages directly linked to the university's
homepage must contain the following information:
of the university (www.osu.edu/resources/htmlandgraphics.html);
2. name of the unit publishing the
3. university standard navigation (www.osu.edu/resources/htmlandgraphics.html);
4. name and/or e-mail address of site
When pages are linked from the university's
homepage, the unit has to reciprocate on those pages by
establishing an easy return to the homepage so that the
viewer will not be lost or left unsure of his/her location.
Accessibility for all potential users
("ADA compliance") must be implemented when designing Web pages.
Specific requirements and resources can be found on our Web Accessibility Standards page, which also references the ADA Coordinator's Office and the Web Accessibility Center.
As with other university promotional and
informational communications, advertising should be considered
the exception and not the rule. Communication that is deemed
to be central to the mission of the university and/or associated
unit should be subsidized accordingly.
Exceptions may be appropriate under these
circumstances: o the advertising is core to the purpose
of the site (i.e., referrals to non-university services
of particular interest to the constituent);
1. a site
that is determined to be core to the mission of the university
and/or the expectations and needs of its constituents requires
maintenance resources that exceed internal allocations;
2. when used as references to commercial
sites for the purpose of providing an Internet bibliography.
3. acknowledgement of funding sources,
proprietary technologies, site developer, and other naming of commercial
ventures may be deemed appropriate by the creating unit and may be
used in a manner that does not detract from the educational or administrative
purpose of the site; such acknowledgement does not constitute and
should not imply an endorsement by the university.
Additional advertising considerations
1. a site
supported by advertising may be better placed in the .com
2. revenue generated by advertising
may be subject to unrelated business income tax (UBIT);
3. advertisements or icons that are
links to a commercial site may conflict with the interests of the
university and involved unit, in that they take the viewer away from
the university site, to which a return may be difficult.
4. advertising that is considered in
exception of the above policy must not conflict with the intent and
primary messages of the page, nor should it reflect an undignified
image of the university;
Non-university fundraising may not be
conducted on any Web page that is owned by the university
or is hosted on the university's network.
Determination of exception to this policy
requires the advance approval of the Web Policy Council.
Links to Non-University Web Sites
Links to non-university Web sites should
be related to the subject matter of the referring page.
Non-university logos and trademarks should
be no larger than 10,000 total pixels, and not larger than
any official logo or trademark of the university appearing
within that Web site.
Standardization of Page Design, Organization,
and Editorial Style In addition to the minimal content requirements
specified in the Web Page Standards section, linked pages
considered to be core to Ohio State's homepage must present
a consistency in design and organization to that of the
university homepage. That design and organization is determined
by University Marketing Communications.
Pages requiring consistency with the university
homepage design and organization include all second-level
pages; that is, those linked directly to the first page,
and all pages that provide guidance and/or introduction
to multiple sites. Exceptions will be considered by the
Web Policy Council.
When writing copy, follow the university's
Editorial Style Manual published by the University Marketing
Communications. (See www.osu.edu/resources/styleguide.html)
Use of University Name and Registered
Marks The university logo, as provided in the Graphics File,
is for the use of any university academic or administrative
unit. It may not be modified in any way. The logo may not
be used on an individual's homepage. Use of the Athletics
logo and the Alumni Association logo are reserved for use
only by those organizations.
Hosting Web Sites for External Entities
Web sites for entities other than university
units, university affiliates, or registered student organizations,
(e.g., professional associations, consortiums, or journals)
may be hosted on university servers only when the entity
has a relationship with the university that supports the
university's teaching, research, or service missions. Such
a relationship may be demonstrated by one or more of the
1) The entity
is an organization of which the university itself is a member.
2) The entity is an organization of
which a faculty or staff member is a member, and the relevant department
chair, director, or vice president approves the hosting as being
in support of the university's teaching, research, or service missions.
3) The university has, or enters into,
a contractual relationship for the hosting with the entity.
4) The Web Policy Council determines
that the entity has another relationship to the university sufficient
to support the university's teaching, research, or service missions.
Advanced Preparation for Search Tools
The use of search tools within the university
Intranet and on the Internet are important for users when
locating information. Thus, Web pages need to be constructed
to assist the search process by incorporating appropriate
HTML tags. This includes the use of the title command and
It is anticipated that Web designers and
Web administrators will exercise good faith and good practice
in utilization of Web-enabled technology.
When notified, persons assigned responsibility
for management of university, unit, or organization Web
sites must remove pages and links containing material that
violates local, state, or federal laws and regulations and
university policies. Failure to comply with these Web Policies
and Standards can include removal of the site from university
equipment and termination of the reference to the Web machine
from the Ohio State domain name server and Ohio State network.
C. Web Site Guidelines
Viewer Technical Issues Considerations
Because constituents have a variety of
hardware and software, Web site pages will not look the
same to every viewer.
people browsing the Web have monitors with 16 or fewer colors.
2. Some people will choose not to download
graphics and will view text only.
3. Accessibility for all potential
users (ADA compliant) must be considered when designing Web pages.
4. Avoid using "Under Construction" pages.
Web pages should not be linked together that are not ready for publication.
5. Consider having a text-only shadow
page or clickable icons for pictures. Don't overload pages with graphics
that will slow the downloading time and frustrate the users. The
more complex the graphics, the longer it will take for pages to load.
Because pages load from the top down, don't design pages with large
graphics files or with all the graphics at the top.
6. Consider the time it takes for viewers
to see the pages. Test with a connection at a slow speed (14,400
baud) to check how long it takes for pages to load.
Naming the Site
Determining the domain name for a Web
site reflects both a marketing and a technical consideration.
In general, shorter names are preferred to longer names.
They are easier to communicate, remember, and type. However,
too short names and acronyms may be confusing to some users.
Ohio Statedomain names should also be reflective of the
name of the university organization that is sponsoring the
All units, departments, schools, colleges
and administrative areas may use a shortened 'OSU.EDU' URL.
URLs will maintain a three level naming construction 'NAME.OSU.EDU'.
Fourth level names will not be allowed except for the fourth
level name 'WWW' to eliminate error messages. (Example:
newmedia.osu.edu, and www.newmedia.osu.edu)
All Ohio State Web sites are free to continue
to use their given sub-domains as URLs (name.subdomain.ohio-state.edu),
and encouraged to use their three level URLs 'NAME.OSU.EDU'
for promoting Web sites.
New URL names may be applied for online
The Web Policy Committee chair will approve
URL names based first on relevance to an academic area,
second on appropriateness to a departmental function, and
third on usability by all users of Ohio State Web services.
Conflicts of URL name choices will be resolved by the Web
Policy Committee on an ongoing basis.
Dot COM Web sites shall not be hosted
within the ohio-state.edu or osu.edu domain space. Dot ORG
sites whose mission is connected to a university department
or academic unit may be hosted within the university's domain
Web Site File Structure
Communicating a site's URL becomes more
difficult if files are organized on the server in an extended
directory structure. By planning ahead and creating more
directories off of the root directory, instead of creating
many layers of sub directories, a single server can be easily
expanded over time to create many collaborative Web sites
whose URL's can be easily communicated. For example, "xxx.osu.edu/dept/faculty/bio/xxx.html" could
be more effectively communicated as "xxx.osu.edu/bio/xxx.html."
Take advantage of the currency of the
Web site to supplement or complement printed communications.
Promote the URL when appropriate, as well as the Ohio State
Site registration and re-registration for free or for a
fee is appropriate and recommended as amechanism to enhance
Efficient Use of Bandwidth by High Traffic
All Internet traffic between the university
network and the outside world flows through a finite "pipeline" that
increasingly is at or beyond capacity. The size of that
pipeline can be (and regularly is) increased, but only at
considerable cost to the university. In order to reduce
the strain on available technical and financial resources,
university web site hosts and developers should consider
the following guidelines:
sites with significant audiences both within and outside
the university network can be optimally served through the
use of "mirrored" sites on both sides of the pipeline.
sites whose primary audience is within the university network
ordinarily should be hosted on servers within the university
network, even if site development is handled by an outside
sites whose primary audience is outside the university network
may more appropriately be hosted on servers outside the
university network, even if site development is handled
The processing of financial transactions
over the Internet raises obvious security concerns. Although
technical measures can be implemented to resolve many of
those concerns, those measures can be difficult to set up
and maintain, are not fool-proof, and inevitably attract
hackers to the servers on which they are installed. Accordingly,
sites needing online financial processing capabilities must
use a secure, off-campus, insured financial processor to
meet the expected security requirements. Any bank accounts
opened as a result of such activity must have prior approval
of the Office of the University Treasurer. Exceptions must
be approved by the Web Policy Council.
D. Web Resources and Tools
Various resources and tools will be developed
for use by the university community to assist in the implementation
of this policy. The Office of University Marketing Communications
will provide leadership and coordinate resource information.
for the current Ohio State Policy, Standards, and Resources
for Web Developers.
Send Comments to:
Web Policy Council, Ted Hattemer, chair, email@example.com
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