Standards for Launch
Updating a website is a huge project. Things can get missed, rewrites can introduce errors, and technical glitches pop up. We're your safety net. We'll check things out to make sure you're ready to go live.
Mason's digital content must be accessible to all site visitors, including those with disabilities. All sites that are redesigned must follow current legal guidelines, at both the national and the state levels. Refer to University Policy 1308: University Information Technology Accessibility, and read our accessibility guidelines.
Copyright information is required on all web properties that Mason owns.
The university’s official calendaring system is 25Live. The comprehensive event calendar on the homepage tab and event calendar page include all events that are open to the public. Internal events are not displayed on this calendar. Lower-level templates that incorporate an event calendar into the design can filter the type(s) of event(s) displayed to be specific to that page’s topic(s).
Google Analytics should be embedded in all site pages, so departments can track site performance against goals, without needing to embed codes on their own. Analytics should roll up into a central account, which allows user behavior to be tracked across Mason sites.
Official Mason sites must meet or exceed standards and best practices for system security, secure transactions, and protection of personal data and identity. “Restricted university data” is defined as data protected by federal or state law or regulations, or by contract. Restricted university data includes, but is not limited to, data that is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Refer to the following University Policies for more information:
Procedures to receive Authorization to Store Sensitive Data
Removal of University Data from Electronic Media 1114A
Responsible Use of Computing Policy 1301
Wireless Networking Policy 1302
Public Internet Address Policy 1304
Physical and Logical Access Security Policy 1312
Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) Policy and Procedures
Remote Access Policy and Standards
Presentation of digital content should be optimized for all reasonable display situations: tablets, smartphones, non-smartphones and other mobile devices, different modern browser brands and versions, and various connectivity speeds.
Marketing and Communication
Photography that meets a high professional standard plays a critical role in creating a positive image of the university. Communications and Marketing hosts an online collection of photography available for download and use in official university communications. The Photography Standards section of the Mason Brand Profile to better understand the photo style that is most appropriate for your content. If you're not sure, assume that the images are are subject to copyright and can't be used without the appropriate permission(s).
The inclusion of “Alt Text” content is a requirement, so that those who are visually impaired and using text browsers can know what the picture or illustration looks like. The World Wide Web Consortium accessibility guidelines suggest imagining reading the picture/illustration aloud over the telephone. A general rule is to keep it at five to 15 words.
Videos are an important way to convey Mason’s vision and strategic initiatives. All videos must be ADA compliant; adhere to university brand standards; be consistent in style, tone, and message; and be captioned if appearing on the Mason website. Contact Creative Services for information on graphics and fonts that should be used in videos posted on Mason sites.
Writer’s Style Guide
The university’s Editorial Style Guide is a component of the university’s brand profile. It was created to give consistency to university publications, such as brochures, magazines, newsletters, and other pieces for distribution to a large audience. This guide is not intended for correspondence, writing for scholarly journals, or other writing not related to university informational or marketing publications.
Since the tone and voice of web content differs from that of printed promotional pieces, content owners and content editors should use the university’s editorial style guide to assist in preparing online content (e.g., for capitalization, punctuation, and preferred references or terminology). Copy for the web should be concise, conversational, and to the point. This type of writing engages users interest and helps ensure the success of a unit’s strategic Call to Action.
Content strategists will coach content owners during the migration phase of the web overhaul. Learning and observations stemming from the migration will be paired with editorial style to inform a new section of Mason's brand profile. An interim resource for units is the book, Don’t Make Me Think. The book addresses content gathering, writing, and organization. As other sources are identified, Digital Communications will make them available to the community.
To provide the Mason community with the best possible service, web pages in the gmu.edu domain should convey current and accurate information. All units should regularly review and update content on the digital properties they control. Outdated, redundant, or obsolete content should be removed. We recommend that content owners review web pages at least once a year, or more frequently, depending on the type of information on the page.