The Graduate Center's website governance outlines the procedures that will guide The Graduate Center's oversight and community involvement of the management of the institutional website. This document has been developed as part of The Graduate Center's website redesign project and will take effect with the launch of the new institutional website in late 2021.
This governance document outlines the following:
Website Purpose and Oversight
As the primary engine for delivering information about academic and research programs, campus operations and future events, The Graduate Center’s website, gc.cuny.edu, is a core institutional asset.
To maintain the effectiveness, quality, and accuracy of the website and The Graduate Center brand, the Office of Communications & Marketing (Communications) supplies analytics; web writing resources and content development for top-level website content; resources for web strategy, accessibility, and search engine optimization; and, when feasible, support for photography, video, and design. By clearly and consistently managing content, streamlining workflow procedures and maintaining brand/style standards, the Communications team works with designated program and unit staff to produce and maintain relevant, contemporary, and meaningful website resources for The Graduate Center community.
Every aspect of the institution must be represented by a subject matter editor or publisher who will coordinate with the Communications team in a timely and collaborative fashion to ensure that all Graduate Center website content remains current. Any change by a program or unit to its designated content liaison must be communicated to the Office of Communications in a timely fashion.
Units that maintain control over their content and publishing are expected to create, maintain, and publish content that is current, accurate, relevant, and appropriate to their respective parts of the institutional website, as required by State and federal mandate. Dissertation and other program information that may be hosted on CUNY Academic Works should not be replicated on gc.cuny.edu, but instead linked to the appropriate GC website location.
As part of the implementation of a new Content Management System (CMS) and redesigned website, the Communications team will engage in a campus-wide effort to educate the community about the new website; establish modules for CMS training, web development and brand awareness; enhance resource and content creation, and track ownership of all defined web properties at The Graduate Center.
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Roles and Responsibilities
Roles working within the CMS:
- Content Editors: Create or revise content to be approved by the content publishers
- Content Publishers: Create/revise, review, and approve content for publication to the live site
- Web Team: Composed primarily of Communications staff, responsible for day-to-day strategic direction and management of the site
Roles not active in the CMS:
- Content Experts: Serve as subject-matter experts to guide and review site content
- Web Governance Board: Executive-level representation that: provides guidance on institutional priorities that influence the day-to-day decision making about digital strategy; help resolve high-level issues and requests; reinforce and educate others on the policies set in the governance document; and determine which web properties are considered core and therefore must be maintained on the institutional site
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Access to the CMS
Individuals requesting website editing access via the CMS must meet the following minimum requirements:
- Possess subject-matter expertise in the purview of the respective unit (or an established relationship with a relevant subject-matter expert)
- Have website content management defined and allocated as a job responsibility, with explicit supervisory approval
- Receive all required training and committed to future trainings as needed
- Fulfill all responsibilities and expectations of the assigned role
- Work with any parties necessary within and beyond one’s given unit to fulfill website responsibilities
CMS access requests must be submitted via the Web Content Request form (forthcoming). Content editors and publishers must complete at a minimum CMS training before gaining access to update gc.cuny.edu; best practices and GC standards training must be completed as soon as possible; individual training can be scheduled if the session times are inconvenient.
In granting CMS access, the supervisor or individual granting approval must acknowledge that:
- The website is a core institutional asset, with website maintenance thus being a core administrative function;
- The approved individual’s responsibilities in updating a section of gc.cuny.edu are critical to the effectiveness of the website as a communications and marketing tool, thus supporting the school’s functional and academic objectives, and
- The approved individual must allocate a defined amount of time per day/week/month (as appropriate) that will be allocated to complete website maintenance responsibilities and develop new content as needed.
The Communications team may revoke access to the CMS for any of the following reasons:
- Violations of CMS or relevant University policies
- Repeated violations of established content and brand quality standards (including the addition of inline styles or other custom formatting that violates defined visual standards)
- Intentional publication of false, misleading or defamatory information on gc.cuny.edu
- Consistent violation of the website’s compliance with WCAG 2.1 AA standards
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Publishing Workflow and Process
The Communications team is tasked with ensuring timely content updates. This framework, shared with content publishers and editors responsible for the various sections of gc.cuny.edu, will include a schedule for content updates, support for creating content, sourcing information and working with subject-matter experts, and ongoing content reviews and audits.
Content editors are responsible for ensuring that their material is accurate and complete in the first instance, then must submit the material to their designated publisher for approval. Content publishers can make changes to the website that appear live instantly without additional review or workflow. By having the ability to publish content live directly to the website, a person serving as a content publisher commits to maintaining a high standard of quality, accuracy, and consistency across the web content for which s/he is responsible. This level of access may be revoked if Communications deems that it is not utilized with due care or diligence.
As a matter of best practice, regardless of established workflow or permissions and whether the content is in the CMS or a Word document, it is recommended to have a second person review draft content for spelling, grammar, and comprehension before submitting it for publication. This is in addition to review via the established publishing workflow for appropriateness, brand, style, accuracy, and relevance, not instead of. All content must follow our website guidelines.
Any requests for changes in CMS access and permissions must be submitted to the Office of Communications. Additional training may be required.
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Training and Content Review
In addition to maintaining online documentation and resources, Communications offers two training modules:
CMS Publishing How-To
- Introduces users to the Drupal CMS interface, with a focus on the most common actions required by Content Editors & Publishers and the GC publishing workflow/process
Web Content Best Practices
- Web writing and visual content
- Introductory SEO and accessibility
- Reviews the GC web editorial style guide
- Principles of content planning, content auditing, and quality assurance
Content editors are required to complete at a minimum the CMS training before gaining access to update gc.cuny.edu; content best practices should be completed during the next available session.
Communications will schedule training sessions for interested members of the GC community on a regular basis. In addition, Communications will maintain, update, and distribute relevant documentation for CMS usage, best practices, style, and other content guidelines, making that documentation accessible to all relevant content editors and publishers. Whenever possible, relevant documentation and content guidelines will be integrated into the CMS authoring interface, to better guide the efforts of content editors and publishers.
Content review, quality assurance, and spot checks will happen as part of the content publishing workflow, for content submitted for review by site editors, and periodically on pages or sections of gc.cuny.edu, for compliance purposes. Spot checks can be prioritized based on analytics, by focusing on the top viewed pages. If content is discovered that is irrelevant, off-brand, inaccurate, outdated, or poor quality, the content owner will be asked to devise a timeframe and plan for addressing the concerns. Failure to adhere to the agreed-upon plan and timeframe may result in a loss of CMS editing access or website archival.
Pages which do not meet gc.cuny.edu content standards or have errors will either be referred by Communications back to the original author for revision or corrected by the Communications team with an alert sent to the original author about being more attentive to quality. If authors consistently submit low quality or error-filled content, the content owner, and program or unit director will be contacted about the issue. The unit or program may lose CMS editing privileges until additional training is received or the concerns are otherwise addressed.
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All content related to GC’s academic mission, including academic departments, central administration, student affairs, etc., is considered core content and should be hosted on gc.cuny.edu.
As a matter of policy, publishing access to certain sections of gc.cuny.edu is limited to specific editors and publishers because of the strategic value of the content, critical business need to ensure content quality, consistency and accuracy, and institutional obligations under state and federal regulation. These sections are deemed authoritative content.
Generally speaking, the Communications team is accountable for authoritative content. To avoid inconsistency and confusion, programs and units should not re-create or duplicate information on authoritative pages within their own sections. Content found in violation will be removed.
In some instances, Communications will work with designated content publishers on authoritative content, in order to ensure accuracy.
Non-authoritative content will be managed by the unit’s content editor and content publisher, with regular check-ins from the Web Team.
Content editors and publishers should consider the following questions when content planning:
- Core objectives: What is your website’s purpose?
- Content goals: What actions do you want people to take on your site?
- KPIs (Key Performance Indicators): What relevant metrics can help measure goals over time?
- Targets: How do you rate success?
- Segments: What visitor attributes will provide meaningful insights?
Authoritative Content Includes:
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Guidelines for Content Editors and Publishers
Editors and publishers should use taxonomies with discretion, ensuring the chosen taxonomies are relevant to the content. Note that the Web Team is solely responsible for maintaining the site taxonomy, governing content tagging, organization and re-use sitewide, as well as complementary taxonomy in use for events, news, or other content types.
Content editors and publishers will, by default, have access to pre-approved photo and video libraries via the content management system. These libraries contain a range of contemporary Graduate Center imagery and videos that can add meaningful context to any page.
Communications has sole authority over the contents of image/visual asset galleries associated with the GC website and may remove any assets that do not meet stated size and/or quality standards.
See The Graduate Center’s Photography and Video guidelines (forthcoming).
CUNY uses the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Version 2.1, AA conformance level as its accessibility standard. The Graduate Center’s site is committed to providing an accessible site for legal responsibility as well as a commitment to equal access for everyone. Content editors and publishers must follow WCAG accessibility guidelines and ensure their content is accessible.
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To maximize efficiencies, an online Web Content Request form (forthcoming) will collect the following:
- Web Content Requests
- Suggested edits/updates to authoritative content
- Requests for new sites or pages
- Requests for photos to be added to CMS photo libraries
- Support, Access, or Training Requests
- Requests to join the Web Content Community
- Requests for CMS access or training
- Requests for access to update events calendar
This system will replace all other methods for collecting requests from the community, including those by phone, in-person, or via a third party.
Be sure to include the following key details:
- Relevant URL(s) to be updated (if applicable)
- The purpose/goal for proposed content or structural component, including primary target audience
- Any files (images, text) needed to inform the requested change
- Specific guidance about the change requested (e.g. “swap out entire first paragraph”, “update date from 2017 to 2018”, add attached microsite here)
- When designating priority (Low, Normal, High), include justification for High priority
- Name, department/unit, and contact info of requestor
Incoming requests for new content will be evaluated by the Web Team (significant requests will be evaluated by the Web Governance Board), and prioritized against these criteria:
- Mission-critical urgency
- Correction of outdated/erroneous information
- Time-sensitive promotion of news/events
- Relevance to the established digital strategy for gc.cuny.edu
- Relevance to the mission of the GC
- Ongoing sustainability of the request and required resources (time/cost)
Expect a response within five (5) business days. If necessary, additional context, information or a meeting may be requested to explore the request in greater depth. Decisions are reached in the context of the strategic goals of the website and the institution, its target audiences, and established standards for messaging and content quality.
Edits to existing non-authoritative content are the purview of the respective content publisher. Publishers are encouraged to establish a formalized system to collect edit requests within their respective unit, either with an email template or web form. The Web Team will strive to check in with non-authoritative publishers on a regular basis to ensure strategic and brand alignment, but is always available for consultation.
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