Bridgewater State University
Website Content and Functionality Policy

The Bridgewater State University Website is designed to enhance the university’s image, brand and position within the highly competitive higher education market. Given the extraordinary role the web has assumed in student enrollment at all levels, it is extremely important that the university’s primary Website – www.bridgew.edu – demonstrate best practices including web accessibility.

To that end, this document outlines the management and governance of the Bridgewater State University Web environment. Web governance refers to people, policies, procedures, standards and guidelines that govern the creation and maintenance of web content that constitute BSU’s official web presence. Given the changing nature of technology and communication needs, consider this a working document that is subject to change to meet the evolving Web needs of the university.

This policy pertains to official Bridgewater websites only. Official websites are designated by the bridgew.edu namespace, are overseen by Marketing and Communications and supported by Information Technology.

Official University Websites

Consistency is essential to protecting the university’s online image. Creation of stand-alone websites that operate outside of existing university approved platforms must not be developed without express approval of MarComm and will not be supported by IT. Approved platforms include the primary website, www.bridgew.edu, all secondary sites containing the bridgew.edu namespace (such as microsites.bridgew.edu), webhost, bsubears.com (athletics), bsulife.com (a for-student-by-student-operated website), Library, Virtual Commons, University Catalog, Student Handbook, Student Portal and the Master Calendar. All approved platforms may be included in search results.

The University’s Primary Website, bridgew.edu

The Website, www.bridgew.edu is the primary external communications platform of Bridgewater State University designed for sharing information with external stakeholders —including prospective students and their families, alumni and donors, prospective staff and faculty members, partners and friends in the wider business, civic and higher educational communities and the general public.

A platform to showcase the university’s best qualities and project a positive image to the entire world, the university’s primary Website is a strategic asset that carries enormous influence. As such, it is vital that the university ensure consistency of and quality control over messaging, content and branding across the website.

The Division of Marketing and Communications (MarComm) is entrusted by the University with oversight of and content creation for the website. Only designated employees within MarComm have authorization to approve the development of other external sites representing Bridgewater State University. Only designated employees within MarComm and its agents have authority to add and delete or otherwise modify content (text, photographs, video, etc.) on the primary website. Designated personnel within MarComm edit content as needed for clarity, grammar, spelling, usage and style, ensure quality control, and adherence to university naming conventions, web policies, accessibility guidelines and brand standards.

All requests for changes to content on the primary website must be directed to MarComm through its web content editor at webeditor@bridgew.edu, although a limited number of approved personnel outside of MarComm have authority to modify content on specific pages. MarComm encourages all departments and units of BSU to send updates and information changes when they occur to keep the website as current as possible.

The University’s Intranet, my.bridgew.edu

In contrast, the Intranet is designed to facilitate information sharing within the internal university community – including employees, students and other stakeholders with valid user credentials. The site is viewable to all users with valid user credentials. The intranet is highly decentralized and autonomous with more than 200 Information Providers (IPs) authorized to create and edit content. Any authorized BSU employee may become an IP provided they gain Department head approval, complete the appropriate training and agree to the terms of use.

Anonymous Intranet Sites

Anonymous intranet sites allow an intranet site to be viewable without requiring a log-in. The approval of anonymous intranet sites was intended as a temporary measure to expedite the development of externally-facing content. Moving forward, the university will forgo the use of anonymous intranet sites. MarComm will collaborate with departments to determine and develop content that will be shared externally through the university website.

Key Differences between bridgew.edu Website and Intranet

Bridgew.edu is BSU’s primary website for sharing information with external stakeholders, while the Intranet is designed to facilitate information sharing within the internal university community. The primary website and Intranet domains are both platforms for sharing information, but because they are designed to meet the needs of different audiences and serve different purposes, they are accordingly governed by different rules.

University Catalog and Academic Governance

Academic governance is the official process for updating academic program information. The Bridgewater State University Catalog is the official repository for academic program information. The University Catalog is managed by the Office of the Registrar. Academic program information will be updated on the primary website in accordance with updates to the University Catalog.

Guidelines/Compliance

MarComm has editorial authority over the content of the Bridgewater State University website. In addition, MarComm, which establishes the institution’s external voice, reserves the right to revise or delete content housed on the university’s Website that does not meet acceptable use guidelines or the standards outlined in this policy, although no changes to content will be made without consulting with impacted departments. IT reserves the right to ensure a secure and compliant web presence in line with approved policies. All reports of content errors should be reported to the web content editor at webeditor@bridgew.edu. All reports of inaccessible content may be reported to the university’s ADA/504 Coordinator, Erin DeBobes, at 508.531.2744 or edebobes@bridgew.edu.

Website Accessibility Compliance

As part of its commitment to creating a fully inclusive campus community, BSU will update web content, templates, widgets, style guides and processes to comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 – Level AA and implement Web Accessibility Initiative-Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 where applicable for dynamic web content, unless an undue burden or fundamental alteration can be demonstrated (see below). These guidelines help to ensure that people with disabilities are able to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same benefits and services within the same timeframe as their peers, with substantially equivalent ease of use; that they are not excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise subjected to discrimination in any of the university’s programs, services and activities delivered online, as required by Section 504 and Title II and their implementing regulations.

WCAG 2.0 guidelines make 12 accessibility recommendations within the following four principles:

  • Perceivable: Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
  • Operable: User interface components and navigation must be operable.
  • Understandable: Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
  • Robust: Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

Design and Content Accessibility Considerations

WCAG 2.0 provides a host of guidelines (best practices) that should be adhered to when creating webpages or editing or adding content, photographs or videos online. These recommendations are related to the (1) use of PDFs, (2) text alternatives, (3) time-based media, (4) audio control, (5) use of color, (6) keyboard accessible content, (7) timing adjustability, (8) headings and labels, (9) links, (10) forms and (11) tables design and coding, among others. For details, refer to: How to Meet WCAG 2 Quick Reference.

Undue Burden and Fundamental Alteration

Conformance to WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines and WAI-ARIA 1.0 may be an undue burden due to the nature of the content, the purpose of the resource, the lack of accessible solutions, or an unreasonably high administrative or financial cost necessary to make the resource meet that goal. However, these difficulties do not relieve the university programs or activities from meeting applicable legal obligations to provide reasonable accommodations to users in regard to access to the content and services provided on BSU websites. BSU Information Providers must be prepared to provide content and/or services in a suitable alternative format (e.g., electronic text file or audio description). To provide equally effective alternate access, alternates are not required to produce the identical result or level of achievement for persons with and without disabilities, but must afford persons with disabilities equal opportunity to obtain the same result, to gain the same benefit, or to reach the same level of achievement, in the most integrated setting appropriate to the person’s needs.

BSU will strive to ensure that all new content on Bridgew.edu will meet these accessibility guidelines effective June 8, 2018.

Website Content Review & Remediation

Marketing and Communications annually reviews content on the most visited web pages as determined by Google Analytics. Siteimprove administrators and IPs receive Siteimprove quality and accessibility reports every five days. These reports identify misspellings, broken links and inaccessible content. Remediation of issues is to be completed by IPs no later than 30 days after notification of the issue.

Third-Party Vendors

MarComm will request and review a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) for all website content and functionality developed by, maintained by, or offered through a third-party vendor, prior to purchasing. Should the third-party be unable or unwilling to submit a VPAT, MarComm will request updated and more accessible content or consider other vendors with similar products.

Participants and Roles

MarComm is responsible for overseeing the strategic direction and content development of the website ensuring it is in alignment with the strategic goals of the university. MarComm manages, develops and maintains content on the website within the parameters of this policy and serves as liaison to university departments for web content changes and updates. MarComm also initiates and manages major website projects to develop new web pages and reorganize information on the website.

Marcomm partners with IT to ensure the bridgew.edu website is secure, reliable, and accessible. IT provides guidance to and supports MarComm in the areas of user experience, mobile responsiveness, accessibility, website development, analytics and search engine optimization. IT will ensure that CMS templates and related widgets and style guides meet accessibility guidelines.

Information Providers (IPs) are employees authorized on behalf of their department to maintain and edit web content in their approved functional areas. IPs are responsible for updating their own content, for adhering to website policies, including the Bridgewater State University Style Guide & Graphic Standards Manual, the Website Content and Functionality Policy, and the IP Terms of Use Agreement. IPs are also responsible for correcting any problems identified through Siteimprove reports. Information Providers are required to fix issues identified in quality assurance reports in a timely manner per the terms of the IP agreement. IPs are required to ensure any new content added is accessible by checking content through accessibility checkers (Siteimprove, WAVe etc) prior to upload. IPs are responsible for resolving any accessibility issues found prior to publishing new content.

Departments without an-in-house Information Provider (IP) are responsible for communicating to the web content editor at webeditor@bridgew.edu any changes to content needed on the primary website.

Written Content/Messaging/Branding

The university’s Website embraces a writing style that engages visitors such as prospective students looking for academic programs or community members seeking general information about the university. The Website must speak directly to them, answering their questions and giving 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 help convey a clear and consistent message, it is critical for all parts of the site to use the university’s official visual identifiers (logos) and the university naming conventions and style outlined in the Bridgewater State University Style Guide & Graphic Standards Manual. The Division of Marketing & Communication also follows style as outlined in The Associated Press Stylebook.

After June 8, 2018, all new website content must adhere to the WCAG 2.0 AA Guideline and WAI-ARIA 1.0.

Duplication of Information

Information that already resides on the Website should be linked to rather than duplicated. For example, the University Catalog and the Student Handbook – which reflect the most current and accurate information – should, in general, be linked to rather than replicating information from those documents.

Visual Content

Photography that meets high professional standards plays a critical role in creating a positive image of Bridgewater State University. Photographic images used on the Website should inspire all visitors. Photographs should make a connection with the people and activities depicted and make visitors feel proud of their connection or potential connection with Bridgewater. To achieve these goals, the site primarily uses documentary-style photography that captures the authentic and vibrant interactions among students and among students and faculty, showing a range of genders, ethnic backgrounds, races, ages, etc.

Designated personnel within MarComm and its agents, working with individual units of the university, will select all university, divisional, college, departmental, office and center branding photos. These will be rotated based on need and the changing environment.

After June 8 2018, all new website images must contain text alternative descriptions as described in the WCAG 2.0 AA Guideline and WAI-ARIA 1.0.

Videos

Videos are an important component of telling the Bridgewater story, and like other materials that tell our stories – brochures, handbooks, web pages, etc. – videos must adhere to university brand standards and be consistent in style, tone and message.

After June 8, 2018, all video and time based media used on official websites must contain alternative descriptions as described in the WCAG 2.0 AA Guideline and WAI-ARIA 1.0.

Supporting Files

After June 8, 2018, all new uploaded files such as PDFs, Word documents, Powerpoint files etc. to official websites must meet WCAG 2.0 AA Guideline and WAI-ARIA 1.0.

Measurement

Google Analytics is utilized to understand visitor patterns, improve site navigation and identify most requested resources. Departments that wish to view this data should request access from the IT Web Development Team for their own access and reporting needs. Additional tracking methods may be used as outlined in the Bridgewater State University Website Privacy Statement.

 

Approved by President and Cabinet May 25, 2018