Administrative Policies

AD54 Web Page Design and Image

Policy Status: 

Active

Subject Matter Expert: 

Joan Scholton, 814-867-1344, sjs22@psu.edu

Policy Steward: 

Vice President for Administration

Contents:

PURPOSE:

The purpose of this policy is to describe certain visual and information elements and their usage that are required for all official Penn State web pages.

POLICY:

All publicly accessible Penn State Web pages presenting official University information must adhere to the requirements below. This includes all pages containing information sanctioned by the University and directly related to University business or academic activities.

What is not covered by this policy:

While the University encourages the application of the standards and requirements outlined in this document for ease of use and consistency across all parts of the Penn State Web presence, adoption of this policy is not required for:

  • Student, faculty and staff personal pages, course management pages (e.g., Canvas) intranets (defined as sites requiring a restricted-access login), and student organizations.
  • Any sites that exist to communicate the work of a consortium or other multi-party organization of which Penn State is a part, but which is not an official Penn State organization.

REQUIRED COMMON ELEMENTS:

THE PRIMARY PENN STATE UNIVERSITY MARK:

The Penn State University mark (primary version) is a registered trademark and may not be modified. The University mark is comprised of the "Penn State" logotype and the shield, and represents the entire University. All marks are approved and provided by the Office of Strategic Communications, University Marketing. Compliant versions for primary, college, and campus marks are available for use at the online Visual Identity Standards. Administrative unit marks are available by contacting the Office of Strategic Communications, University Marketing. Additional guidelines pertaining to use of the Penn State mark are also provided at Visual Identity Standards: University Mark.

The primary University mark must be used unmodified, in correct proportion, and have the minimum clear space requirements indicated in the online Visual Identity Standards. See examples in the Visual Identity Standards, Correct mark use: Minimum clear space.

SIZE AND PLACEMENT:

The primary University mark must appear in the footer of every web page and link to www.psu.edu. Placement should be near the required privacy and legal statements. (If you are using the primary mark instead of an entity mark in the header of your site, follow the guidelines for sizing and placement of entity marks and link it to the entity’s homepage. The primary University mark must still appear in the footer and link to www.psu.edu.)

Vertical University marks are not permitted for use in the header or footer of web pages.

THE ENTITY MARK:

Entity marks include the names of campuses, colleges, and some administrative/academic units. All marks are approved and provided by the Office of Strategic Communications, University Marketing. Compliant versions for primary, college, and campus marks are available for use in the Visual Identity Standards.  Administrative marks are available by contacting the Office of Strategic Communications, University Marketing. Additional guidelines pertaining to usage of entity marks are also provided at Visual Identity Standards: One- and Two-line Entity Marks.

The entity marks must be used unmodified, in correct proportion, and adhere to the minimum clear space requirements indicated in the online Visual Identity Standards. See examples in the Visual Identity Standards, Correct mark use: Minimum clear space.

Entity marks must link to the entity’s homepage.

SIZE AND PLACEMENT:

Entity mark placement is to be in the top left corner of the content area and can only be replaced by the primary University mark. Entity marks may be centered on mobile.

No content is permitted to the left or above the mark or in its immediate vicinity, except background images such as photos that conform to graphic identity rules as found in the online Visual Identity Standards, Color: Specifications for mark use on background colors.  Guidelines for correct mark size can be found in the Visual Identity Standards, Correct mark use: Minimum size. Contact Strategic Communications, University Marketing for assistance with sizing the mark.

STANDARDIZED SEARCH ELEMENT ON ALL PAGES:

All web pages must include a search element with the following:

  • Local site ("search this site" as the default)
  • Penn State
  • People
  • Departments

The search element can be placed in or adjacent to the header at the top right of the page.

SITE DIRECTORIES, REQUIRED LINKS AND CONTACT INFORMATION:

  • College, campus and administrative/academic sites must have a faculty/staff directory with a clear and usable contact format. The unit administrator must be identified, and contact information included. The format is at the discretion of the unit, but usability testing is strongly encouraged for this as with any part of the site.
  • Sites must have manager/editor contact information for problem-solving and user feedback.
  • All Penn State websites must link to the centrally maintained privacy and legal statements, including Privacy, Non-discrimination, Equal Opportunity, and Copyright. This is updated centrally, and will allow for all pages within the Penn State web presence to be seamlessly maintained for accuracy.  All Penn State websites must also contain a statement referring to the University’s commitment to web accessibility and/or a link to the University’s Accessibility Statement (available here: http://www.psu.edu/accessibilitystatement), and a link allowing users to contact the designated position or positions that monitor web accessibility within a department or college, as detailed in policy AD-69. These links should appear on every page in a uniform footer section.

IMPLEMENTATION:

The implementation deadline for the above common elements will be one year from the date this policy takes effect. Units that cannot make style modifications by this date should contact the Office Strategic Communications, University Marketing, for an extension or assistance. Contact information is at http://strategiccommunications.psu.edu/.

ACCESSIBILITY:

All official University web pages will adhere to the accessibility standards spelled out in Policy AD-69, Accessibility of Electronic and Information Technology.

RECOMMENDATIONS AND GENERAL GUIDELINES:

  • Maintain site-wide consistency with regard to design, navigation, and location of the Penn State mark, search elements, footer information, and contact information. Consistent usage throughout sites is highly desirable and designs should be both validated according to web standards and tested with the appropriate audience.
  • Use current best practices for XML/XHTML/HTML AND CSS, and current best XML, XHTML validators such as those at http://www.w3c.org and related organizations. It is presumed that developers and site managers will use their best judgment in interpreting validator reports and closely follow developments in the field.
  • Follow SEO best practices using recommendations provided by sites such as Google.com and Moz.com.
  • Note that future web redesigns should follow current standards. The term “standards” in this policy will mean those in effect at that time.
  • Strive for design and navigation that is consistent with Penn State top-level pages. This will help users navigate our sites and see Penn State as a cohesive brand.
  • Establish a program of usability testing and design based on best practices of usability, including factual return on investment analysis whenever possible.

OVERSIGHT:

Web sites at Penn State are expected to adhere to the highest levels of quality, properly reflecting Penn State's image and stature, and to abide by these minimal guidelines.

While units of the University are free to develop or modify their own sites, the Associate Vice President for Marketing, or designee, will be responsible for ensuring adherence to the guidelines in this policy, issuing exemptions, and overseeing maintenance and upkeep of the University's Visual Identity Standards.

FUTURE MONITORING:

The Associate Vice President for Marketing, or designee, and the Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, or designee, will work with the University Marketing Council to periodically review design and content changes to the University’s “top level” web pages as well as any University-wide requirements.

CROSS REFERENCES:

Other Policies in this manual should also be referenced, especially the following:

AD07 - Use of University Name, Symbols and/or Graphic Devices,

AD52 - Links to or from Penn State Web Pages,

AD61 - University Communications Through Advertising, Publications and Media Relations,

AD69 - Accessibility of Electronic and Information Technology

FN14 - Use of University Tangible Assets, Equipment, Supplies and Services

Most recent changes:

  • April 19, 2018 - Policy edits to include updates regarding new Penn State brand standards, the new University mark and accessibility.

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • August 2, 2011 - Removed the second paragraph in FUTURE MONITORING which discussed "accessibility," as this information has been more appropriately addressed and published in Policy AD69, Accessibility of Penn State Web Pages.

  • June 15, 2011 - Editorial changes made in the GENERAL REQUIREMENTS, ALL AFFECTED PAGES, "Accessibility," 2nd bullet. Removed the link and associated verbiage pointing to "AccessPSU" (formerly http://www.equity.psu.edu/accesspsu/ ), and reworded paragraph accordingly.
  • June 22, 2006 - Editorial changes made. Moved one bullet (Pages that validate properly…) out of the RECOMMENDATIONS AND GENERAL GUIDELINES to the GENERAL REQUIREMENTS, ALL AFFECTED PAGES, and then added one new sentence to the same bullet. In the Web Markup Standards bullet, changed "should" to "shall."
  • August 15, 2005 - The policy was completely rewritten. Deadline for compliance with new required common elements of design: August 15, 2005
  • August 8, 2000 - Editorial change: Under section 'FUTURE MONITORING,' changed scope in first sentence from "all official psu.edu web sites" to "official psu.edu Web site and the next level of pages below the homepage."
  • August 6, 2000 - New policy.

Date Approved: 

April 16, 2018

Date Published: 

April 19, 2018

Effective Date: 

April 16, 2018