Indiana State University Web Content Standards

Introduction and Purpose  

University Marketing and the Office of Information Technology have collaborated to create the following standards and best practice guidelines to ensure a consistent and unified user experience for visitors to our website. These standards are intended to assist members of the Indiana State University community involved with creating, updating, reviewing, and posting any publicly shared Indiana State University electronic information. This document is supplemental to University Policies in Section 800.  

Web Standards Group 

The Web Standards Group is responsible for the creation and maintenance of this Indiana State University Web Content Standards document. The Indiana State University Web Content Standards is a referenced supplement of University Policies in Section 800 

The Web Standards Group is composed of key University stakeholders. Guided by the group’s co-chairs, their chief responsibilities are to guide the strategic direction of and maintenance of standards for appropriate use of the Indiana State University public web environment. To this end, they review the existing public web environment to ensure its relative alignment with university needs, strategies, and initiatives. 

Group members provide input on strategy, share suggestions and concerns brought to their attention, and review of proposed new features. The Web Standards Group reviews all formal requests for individual, departmental or other exception requests and documentation of same for any needs not covered by these standards.  

Web Standards Group membership is a renewable term of three (3) years.   

Web Standards Group Roles

  • Co-Chair - Chief Information Officer   

  • Co-Chair - Executive Director University Marketing (or designee) 

  • Member - Administrative Staff Member (Recommended by Staff Council) 

  • Member - Chief Information Security Officer 

  • MemberDiversity, Inclusion, and Belonging 

  • Member - Faculty member (Provost appointed) 

  • Member - Faculty member (Provost appointed) 

  • Member - Office of Information Technology Staff member 

  • Member - Web Services Staff member

Guiding Principals

The following guiding principles should be adhered to by all content editors of the University. The following standards are subject to change as laws and university policies evolve. 

Audience Consideration:

Content intended for posting should be reviewed and categorized for the appropriate audience before posting to the public website. The navigation and information architecture for Indiana State's digital presence is based on primary audience needs rather than on internal organizational charts or processes. Targeting content for appropriate audiences will help to make our site approachable and easy to use. 

The University’s electronic information storage, hosting and sharing has been purposefully divided into two main categories: public and Internal. The public category is represented by the University’s website. The website is the face of the University, often the first impression visitors have of the university, and the experience should be a positive one.

The internal category is represented by the “Sycamore Root.” The Sycamore Root is an authenticated content (requires login) intranet made up of several products, mostly in the Microsoft environment, including SharePoint, Teams, L: Drive and other related resources. The standards for use of Sycamore Root are beyond the scope of this document. Similar related resources for it may be found <here>

Content categorization should generally follow these guidelines: 

Website: Content posted on the university’s website is publicly oriented and available for all visitors to and/or University Website audiences include: 

  • Prospective students 

  • Prospective student families and influencers 

  • Prospective Staff 

  • Alumni 

  • Donors  

  • Community members  

  • Journalists  

  • Lawmakers 

Sycamore Root: Content posted to the Sycamore Root is privileged content – only users with university credentials may log-in and access Sycamore Root content. Sycamore Root audiences include:

  • Current Students 

  • Current Staff 

  • Current Faculty 

  • University Affiliates 

  • Departmental internal content, resources, and documentation 

  • Campus facing services documentation, forms, and resources 

  • Professional Collaboration

Content that does not strictly fit into these categories should be reviewed by the Web Standards Group for appropriate placement and audience access. 

Website Editing and Posting Responsibilities for Departments

Content Management System:

As of this revision, the university website is housed in the Content Management System (CMS) known as Drupal. The Drupal system is hosted by a cloud “Platform as a Service (PaaS)” provider Pantheon. This is the only University supported CMS available for use on the Indiana State University web environment for official university websites except where exception is granted and documented by the Web Standards Group. Documented Exceptions can be found here.

The CMS helps to enforce compliance with the University’s visual brand and uses brand standards, including official logos, brand marks, color palettes, and typography, as outlined by University Marketing brand guidelines, available here. 

The use of a CMS allows for decentralized editing and posting responsibilities within some areas for specific audiences. When areas do not have available resources for edits, University Marketing has limited available resources that can render help through ticket requests.

Content managers and publishers (defined as “campus web contributors”) from departments and areas across Indiana State are responsible for managing their respective area’s web presence and must abide by the following guidelines:

  • Colleges and divisions serve as caretakers of their websites, experts in their content and stewards of Indiana State University’s brand. 

  • Training is required for campus web contributors at division, department, and office levels. Once training is completed, web contributors can edit and publish existing content through the CMS managed by University Marketing. 

  • Before posting, all content should be reviewed for audience appropriateness as described in this document’s Audience Consideration section.

Campus Web Contributor Account Access 

Departments can request access for web contributors here.

Upon completion of initial training and signed acknowledgment of Indiana State's web standards policies, Web Contributor accounts will be enabled with appropriate permissions in the system. 

To keep a CMS account in good standing, campus web contributors will need to:  

  • Log into the system at least once every 180 days (about 6 months) 

  • Follow our web standards and guidelines in maintaining pages  

  • Understand that accounts that remain inactive for more than one year will be retired automatically 

  • Ensure that student workers and graduate assistants who have completed the appropriate training will be able to update, but not publish, content related to the department or administrative unit where they are employed. 

Website Content

Key University Website Pages:

Key Website Pages are optimized for prospective students. Key pages include main landing pages, audience gateway pages and pages associated with various university initiatives and campaigns. These are managed by University Marketing. To ensure maximum impact and relevance of Key Website pages, all requests for changes to the content on those marketing-critical pages will require the approval of University Marketing. 

Content Requirements:

The University website is publicly available, and instantly published. It is imperative that content meets the following standards: 

  • All content presented on must be acceptable to and intended for public consumption and use.  

  • Site content shall be factually correct. 

  • All content, including text, images, and media, shall abide by all copyright laws and accessibility requirements. 

  • All University web content must be accessible to individuals with disabilities, conforming to Section 508 Standards and Section 255 Guidelines of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and any other relevant laws or policies. 

  • Principles of inclusive web design should be implemented on all campus sites. This includes following best practices for usability, accessibility, diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging. 

  • All web content must use inclusive language and consider issues such as literacy levels. 

  • Web editors should consider bandwidth restrictions and the impact on user experience before depending solely on media content such as videos and high-resolution images to convey an idea. 

  • All pages should have a content strategy, featuring an intuitive navigation and relevant (audience focused) and current content that is optimized for search engines. 

  • The organization of information within the website shall be clear, current, easily understood, and comply with campus information architecture standards. The navigation must be logical and free of broken links.  

  • All University websites shall contain the following information: 

  • current copyright information 

  • contact link 

  • reporting mechanism for accessibility issues (link or email) or a link to the campus accessibility statement 

  • A cookie consent notice 

  • is not an acceptable location for authenticated content (requires login). Content intended for internal audiences such as Indiana State University students, faculty, or staff should not be placed on the public facing web site. This content should be maintained on the Sycamore Root (intranet). 

  • No online payment service may be implemented via web page, page element, or linked URL without the assessment and authorization of OIT (Office of Information Technology) and the Office of the Controller.

Media Considerations

The storage space of the university website is a finite resource. It should not be used as a repository for image, video, or document storage. 

  • Departmental best practices should be developed and followed to store and archive media that is not in “live” use on the website. 

  • Photo and document files such as images, PDFs, PowerPoint, etc. not actively linked on a website are considered archival and shall not be hosted within the CMS. 

  • Videos shall be hosted on campus solutions or on third-party services such as YouTube. 

  • Embedded tools, forms, players, and other non-standard page elements must comply with the University Web Standard. 

  • Where applicable, when web pages or forms need email functionality, they must use OIT’s approved email sending service(s).

Review Cycles

University Marketing and web contributors are charged with ensuring content relevance and preventing stale or inaccurate content. Departmental pages on the website that are not visited, edited, or updated annually can be removed. Site owners will be notified, and consulted as appropriate, prior to substantive changes such as page removal or disabling.  

University Brand, Visual Identity and Content Voice

Indiana State University communicates with many diverse audiences. Every University communication, regardless of the audience, is to identify consistently and positively with the University. The following requirements ensure the university is represented with a consistent level of quality, continuity, and tradition. Unless otherwise granted an exception: 

  • All sites must comply with the University’s visual brand; including the use of official logos, color palettes, and typography, as outlined by University Marketing brand guidelines, available here. 

  • University marks or brand may not be recreated or used on any website that does not meet the University Web Standard. 

  • Content must adhere to university branding, identity, and use additional standards outlined here. 

  • Content on university web pages should be written to comply with current guidance on the University’s voice, outlined here. 

  • Use of the Athletics brand marks should comply with their visual brand; including the use of official logos, color palettes, and typography, as outlined by Athletics Marketing brand guidelines, available here.


Third-party trackers and analytics software must not collect Personal Identifiable Information (PII). Unless granted an exception, services must be configured to anonymize IP addresses if such an option exists. All requests for the inclusion of tracking and analytics on university websites are subject to review by the Web Standards Group.

Student Organizations

Student Organization Websites shall adhere to university web standards. Student organization websites are not automatically provisioned and will be provided on a case-by-case basis. Students organizations requesting a web site can only do so through their Faculty or Staff advisor and will require approval of the Vice President of Student Affairs.

Faculty Websites

Primary university faculty web information is hosted by and edited using the Faculty Activity Database (FAD). Additional faculty websites are not automatically provisioned and will be provided on a case-by-case basis.  Faculty requesting a web site will require approval of the respective college Dean and the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. Faculty websites are subject to the University Web Standards and reviewed after creation and regularly for compliance.

Third Party and Contracted Sites and Application Integration

Third party (hosted) websites and applications shall meet University Web Standards when used for university business and must be approved through the Institutional Software Procurement Process. Third-party applications must meet University Web Standards for accessibility and security and comply with campus branding standards to the extent possible.

Contracted sites and applications include any online services and other websites sponsored by, endorsed by, or created by the institution's authority or any of its departments or administrative units. Contracted sites are not hosted or managed in the CMS.

Contracted sites must adhere to Indiana State's brand and logo usage guidelines and comply with federal accessibility requirements. All contracted sites and third-party integrations are required to go through an official review process before purchase.

Links to External Sites Not Maintained by Indiana State University

Linking to external sites shall be for conducting official university business only and must meet accessibility and security standards.  External links to non-ISU sites should be used sparingly and for an essential purpose and should be checked regularly.

Page Titling and URLs

Page titles appear in the browser window when a visitor views the page. Page titles are logically derived from the page content or department name. As visible parts of university websites, they are governed by the standards set forth in this document. 

In rare cases that a department has special needs for page titling, and agreement with University Marketing cannot be reached, an exception can be requested through the Web Standards Exception Process.

CMS systems are not as dependent on Uniform Resource Links (URLs) as previous web conventions. Similar to page titles, URLs of university pages will follow the same logic as page titling with additional accommodation of internet protocols. Generally speaking, individual page and departmental URLs will be logically derived from the page content or department name with a hyphenated naming convention such as: “". URL character lengths may require trimming to remove contraction terms when necessary.

Pages that are part of specific University campaigns or initiatives may use Vanity URLs. This allows a long URL like “" to be published as “ or”. Vanity URLs are subject to the standards of the “Subdomains Redirects and Vanity URLs” section of this document.

Site Navigation Organization

University website navigation is a purposefully curated natural flow and organization of contents and sections of a website or subsite. University website navigation should follow best practices of information organization and user experience (UI). University website navigation should be organized in a “drill down” approach following the pattern University>Division>Department>Department Section>Information. Cases where individual pages or subsites need more direct access in the interests of a university campaign or initiative, Vanity URL’s may be used where appropriate and approved.

Subdomains Redirects and Vanity URLs 

All subdomains and subsites within the domain belong to, and are representative of, the university.

Subdomains will rarely be authorized for any department and must be approved by University Marketing. University Marketing oversees the information architecture on the and sites.

Vanity URLs require approval from University Marketing, should be limited to two words, and should not include more than one navigation level. All Subdomains Redirects and vanity URLs may be requested here.

Web Standards Exception Process

A formal request for exception from any area of the University Web Standards must be submitted via service ticket. Exception requests require detailed rationale for the sought exception prior to developing or launching a non-compliant site. a non-compliant site.

Requests will be reviewed in a timely manner on a case-by-case basis by University Marketing and the Office of Information Technology who will work with the requestor to obtain any additional documentation or information needed to consider the request.

University Marketing and the Office of Information Technology will provide a recommendation for granting or rejecting the request to the provost, or designee, who ultimately decides whether an exemption will be granted, rejected, or granted conditionally. Conditional exemptions may be granted where the requestor agrees to relevant modifications on a specific timeline to be reviewed by University Marketing and the Office of Information Technology for compliance. A rationale for the exemption ruling will be provided along with the decision.

Requests for exceptions may only be submitted by the Staff or Faculty member with the highest managing authority responsible for a university website. Student organizations needing to seek exceptions may only do so through their faculty or staff sponsor.

Exceptions are not permanent and will be reviewed annually.

Revision Information

October 25th, 2023 - Version 1.0

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Article ID: 155056
Thu 10/19/23 11:21 AM
Wed 10/25/23 1:09 PM