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Digital Governance & Standards - Marketing Toolbox - Davidson College

Digital Governance & Standards

Digital and Web governance refers to people, policies, procedures, standards and guidelines that govern the creation and maintenance of our official website and digital properties.

These include any sites owned and managed by the college and/or within the Davidson College domain, including but not limited to pages in the college content management system (CMS), the campus calendar, social media sites and college video hosted on external sites or displayed on davidson.edu.

The primary objective of these guidelines is to provide collaborative centralized governance for the ongoing development and maintenance of Davidson College’s digital image in order to create an optimal user experience and achieve uniformity that elevates the Davidson brand.

Terms of Use

Public-facing websites that are developed, owned and operated by students and/or employees representing a Davidson College organization, office or department, are required to abide by the following guidelines.

Accessibility: Meet Minimum WCAG 2.0 Level AA

Accessibility scanning/analysis will be required once (1x) prior to launching the site, and at least once (1x) yearly thereafter. If significant alterations are made to the site post-launch, a new report will be required.

For standards, guidelines and resources on making your website accessible, please visit the Accessibility section of the college website.

Acceptable Use 

Websites must comply with the college’s data privacy standards and non-discrimination policies. The website cannot be used for illegal purposes, harvesting data, harassing others, or for personal gain. The footer should include links to:

Ownership, Support & Maintenance

The website must have at least one named owner whose information and contact details are active at the college. The organization/office/department must demonstrate that they have a process in place to maintain the site when leadership changes. If the site is not kept up-to-date, there is no activity or if there is no longer an owner for the site and its content, the site and/or the redirect will be deleted.


An organization may use their approved logo on the website. The website cannot carry the Davidson College logo, College Seal or athletics spirit marks unless permission is requested and granted by College Communications. For more information, please refer to the brand guide.

Ownership of Content & Templates

Content Ownership & Rights to Edit Content

The website, davidson.edu, and all other digital properties created and managed within the Davidson domain are the sole property of Davidson College. While certain faculty and staff members will have access to edit certain portions of these properties, create new content, and remove old content, the website and all its sub-sites remain the property of the college.

The website provides a platform to showcase the college’s best qualities and project a positive image to the entire world. It is a strategic asset that carries enormous influence and provides global access to all aspects of the college. 

College Communications has access to all areas of the Davidson website and to ensure quality control, members of the digital communications team (digital staff) will edit/alter content as needed for clarity or to fix grammar, spelling, usage and style issues, as well as to ensure conformity with college naming conventions and branding, and accessibility compliance.

The college reserves the right to revise or remove content housed either on college web resources or external resources that does not meet the college’s acceptable use agreement or the standards outlined in this document, including minimum WCAG 2.0/AA accessibility standards. The digital staff will first communicate issues with the person responsible for the content in question or the web content director to discuss resolution.

College Template Designs

Duplicating any part of the CMS design template, including the header, footer, navigation, masthead or callout styles, is strictly prohibited without the express written approval of College Communications. Digital staff members will remove or disable any sites that are found in violation of this rule. Requests for HTML headers and footers to “skin” sites or applications that reside outside of the Drupal CMS and require Davidson College branding should be made to digitalstaff@davidson.edu. Please contact T&I for information and options about WordPress Themes

CMS Training & Publishing Workflow

CMS Training & Education

Only CMS Content Editors who have been formally trained and attend a CMS group training session will be given access to the content management system. The digital staff is responsible for initial group-based training, after which time CMS users may utilize various support documents and training screencasts by visiting the Marketing Toolbox.

Workflow Publishing Roles

  • College Communications digital staff members: The digital staff provides strategic and day-to-day oversight of all web content submitted for review as part of workflow before it is published to the live Davidson website. Digital staff members also are responsible for maintaining and generating content for high-level landing pages like the homepage, as well as pages that link from the mega menu, and providing content writing/editing support to departments.

  • Web content director: Each academic or administrative department director or chair is a web content director. In this capacity, the web content director is responsible for the following.
    • Departmental decisions regarding content direction for their site that aligns with the college’s stated strategic web goals and objectives
    • Ensuring that all department site content is up to date, accurate and meets the college’s quality standards
    • Selection of faculty or staff members to attend training and maintain their department site. It is best to assign CMS duties to one or two people, who will work regularly in the CMS and gain experience and knowledge, rather than spreading the responsibility across many faculty or staff members.
  • CMS content editor: Content editors are responsible for reviewing CMS content as part of department workflow for quality, style, consistency and accuracy. After attending training, users are given access to the CMS and have the ability to edit existing site content. Once they make changes, they send pages on through workflow for publishing by a digital staff member before the pages are published to the live website.

College Communications reserves the right to suggest changes to the designated Content Editor and, in extreme cases, will limit or suspend access to the CMS if a CMS editor regularly does not meet the quality standards of the site.

Quality Control Within Workflow

Each department should ensure that changes to web pages get written and then reviewed by a second person before sending them on in workflow for review and approval. Digital staff should receive final, edited versions of each page. There should be no spelling or grammatical errors, and pages should adhere to the college’s writing style guidelines.

All edits to existing CMS pages will be reviewed by a member of the digital staff prior to being published. If pages are submitted with errors or they are of poor quality, the digital staff will contact content editors to make sure the appropriate changes are made and resubmitted for approval. 

The creation of new pages, news stories, people pages (faculty and staff profile pages), embedded video or any code embeds, will be made by digital staff, at the discretion of College Communications. Requests should be submitted to digitalstaff@davidson.edu.

Website Content

Maintaining Content Relevancy & Currency

Web content directors should plan to have their assigned CMS content editor(s) review and update each department web page every six months. Content that is no longer relevant or current must be updated or removed from davidson.edu. As digital staff members find out-of-date pages and site content they will alert the department’s web content director and request a plan and time frame for resolution of the issue. If pages are still found to be out-of-date after the agreed upon time frame,  digital staff will take an appropriate action to fix the issue or remove the content.

In addition to the 6-month review by department authors/editors, digital staff members will perform annual content audits of all department sites. It is the expectation that department web content directors will meet with digital staff to review any issues identified in their site audit and will take an active role in addressing those issues.

Written Content, Messaging & Branding

The college site embraces a writing style that engages our readers in a conversation. We want to speak directly to them, answer their questions and give them information as concisely and clearly as possible. Web visitors are task-oriented  they skim and scan, getting just enough information to get to their next destination. To enable that process, we use subheadings, short paragraphs, bulleted/numbered lists and concise, relevant text.

So that we convey a clear and consistent message, it is critical for all parts of the davidson.edu domain to use the college’s official visual identifiers (logos) and the college naming conventions and style outlined in the brand guide and editorial style guide. Davidson College primarily follows the Associated Press Stylebook, with a few exceptions.

Archive Pages

Archive pages are considered non-standard pages and will eventually be removed from academic department websites. These include: current and past event pages in the CMS, pages featuring long lists of past student theses, past student awards, past student research projects and papers, and student outcomes included in a list format, etc. These types of pages receive very little website traffic and divert the attention of departments from focusing their time on top-level department pages.

Code Embeds

College communications may allow for code to be embedded in certain pages. The digital staff will consider code embeds (of newsletter signups, forms, Infograms, search bars) on a case by case basis. Calendar embeds will not be considered. All events displayed on davidson.edu should be entered into the Public Calendar through EMS.

Official College Information

Departments are prohibited from copying official college information to avoid posting conflicting or duplicate information on davidson.edu. Web pages or content found to be in violation will be removed. This includes:

  • Tuition, fees, and scholarship information
  • Academic calendars and college deadlines
  • Course listings (maintained by the Registrar’s Office)
  • Course descriptions other than those provided in the College Catalog
  • Academic requirements listed in the College Catalog
  • College news stories or announcements published by College Communications. A separate CMS workflow and keyword taxonomy system allows for news stories to be automatically published to department homepages when relevant/related.
  • Events posted to the campus calendar. Events should always be posted to the EMS campus calendar and pulled directly into department web pages from that system.
  • New content referencing the college’s mission, statement of purpose, bylaws, honor code, the college’s religious tradition and accreditation.

Course Listings

The only course listings or descriptions that can appear on the college website are the ones generated by the Registrar’s Office. Web Content Editors/Authors should link to a course as it appears on the College Catalog or course listing page. Departments may not post links to Word documents or PDFs that include course descriptions.

Accessibility: Meet Minimum WCAG 2.0 Level AA

For standards, guidelines and resources on making your website accessible, please visit the Accessibility section of the college website.

Photography & Video


Please review our Digital Photography Standards.


Videos are important tools with which to tell the Davidson College story, and like other marketing materials, they need to adhere to brand standards and be consistent in style, tone and message. College Communications staff reserve the right to assess the quality of videos to determine their appropriateness for davidson.edu. Videos shared on davidson.edu must be hosted on the college’s official YouTube or Vimeo accounts.

All videos posted on davidson.edu or Davidson’s social media channels, must be ADA and Section 508 compliant and be captioned. This applies to videos produced by college faculty, staff and students as well as independently-produced videos. For assistance with video captioning please visit the Accessibility section of the college website.


Google Analytics tracking is enabled on all CMS pages. Departments interested in obtaining analytics for their content on davidson.edu can request quarterly analytics reports by emailing digitalstaff@davidson.edu.

Subdomains, Social Media & Mobile Apps

Davidson.edu Subdomains

Subdomains are official subdivisions of the Davidson website, with URLs in the form https://subdomainname.davidson.edu. Subdomain names may be assigned to websites, Software as a Service applications, or other online properties for which the owner desires a prominent association to the college. Creating and assigning subdomains requires the approval of College Communications. Site owners who would like their approved web property to have a URL that contains “.davidson.edu”must complete the domain name (DNS) or subdomain URL request form

Social Media

Please review our Social Media Guidelines and Setting Up Social Accounts.

Mobile Apps

College departments should contact Technology & Innovation and digital staff prior to planning, developing or contracting with an external vendor or launching mobile applications to ensure the applications follow Davidson College brand standards, app development standards, and requirements for iOS, Android, and other platforms, and are in the strategic interest of the college. 

All iOS and Android mobile applications must be uploaded through the college’s mobile development accounts. For more information on branding for mobile applications, see the brand standards.

Guidelines for Google Sites

Google Sites created for department use must comply with the college’s Terms of Service, and be compliant with:

The Google Site must not duplicate or conflict with content on the main college website, or any other authorized college site.

Unless specifically authorized to be visible by the public, Google Site must be limited to authenticated Davidson College users – ie. needs single sign-on to access. It cannot be indexed by search engines, nor searchable by the public, etc.

Google Sites are self-service. College Communications is not responsible for content, or promoting, or maintaining the site. Digital Staff will not link to Google Site webpages from the Davidson.edu unless they fully meet the guidelines.


All college digital properties must be WCAG 2.0 (down to level AA) and Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act (2017) compliant. For additional information and resources, please visit the Accessibility section of the college website.