This page was last updated May 12, 2011.
A great university website leaves a strong, positive first impression with its visitors, including current and prospective students, their parents, institutional partners, faculty, staff, or the many others seeking information from or about the university. For many, the website serves as their introduction to Virginia Tech. It must communicate in a clear and consistent manner the university's mission, vision, and outstanding characteristics. This is our goal for the Virginia Tech website.
To meet this goal, University Relations and Information Technology have partnered to provide free services to the university community. A Web content management system (Ensemble CMS), catalog of templates, website elements, and consulting services are available to units.
The university’s website is an official publication of Virginia Tech. Our print publications utilize a consistent style – a “family” look and feel – and adhere to well-defined Identity Standards. Similarly, our websites need to use consistent elements and adhere to similar guidelines.
To that end, guidelines governing website design and deployment are a necessary aspect of our concerted Web development strategy. These guidelines are based on industry best practices for Web navigation and usability, and they support Virginia Tech’s Identity Standards, which protect and project our unique brand. Virginia Tech’s homepage, as well as all sub-level pages, will utilize family templates provided by University Relations.
1. Web Communications offers templates for use by academic and administrative units. CSS files are included with the templates. All templates are designed to ensure compliance with the university’s Accessibility and Security policies. Thus, units that utilize these templates are asked not to alter the layout or design. When special template needs arise, Web Communications will consider those on a case-by-case basis.
2. We ask that primary administrative units (see Appendix A for a complete list) use the family templates provided by Web Communications to ensure a consistent user experience and to support the university’s brand.
3. Organizational units — colleges, vice presidents' divisions, departments, institutes, and centers — that choose to not use family templates and CSS provided by Web Communications are asked to follow these design guidelines:
4. The Ensemble CMS enterprise solution (www.ensemble.cms.vt.edu) also is available and incorporates family templates, CSS, workflows, and other processes in a centralized system compliant with standards for security and accessibility. The use of Ensemble CMS and family templates not only will allow participating units to get websites to production more quickly, but it also will save untold work later as they maintain and continue to develop their websites.
5. Websites utilizing Ensemble CMS will by default be hosted centrally by IT, with the benefits of enhanced security, support, and backup services.
6. If a unit chooses not to use the CMS, its options are:
Units that choose to develop custom templates and CSS will be responsible and accountable for ensuring compliance with university standards for security and accessibility.
Virginia Tech's main website (www.vt.edu) serves as its most prominent face to the university community and its many publics. It encompasses the homepage and gateway pages linked from main navigation, including:
The main website also includes other content areas (example: commencement information) and pages (example: privacy statement) housed directly under the vt.edu domain or one of its gateway pages. Collectively, these pages constitute the top- and second-level pages referenced in this manual.
The target audiences of the main website, as defined by the university, are:
The Virginia Tech homepage provides a framework and mechanism for users to locate and retrieve official news and information through linked navigation located in the header and left-hand column, and contextual links within the center content area. The homepage template design is unique and is not intended to be used by other sites within the vt.edu domain.