For background on the Madison Identity System, please refer to JMU Policy 1502. Any further questions can be directed to the office of University Communications and Marketing at (540) 568–3712.

Website content policy

  • All pages on www.jmu.edu will:
    • use Cascade content blocks and formats approved by University Marketing and Communications, in _shared-blocks and _shared-formats respectively, unless otherwise arranged through marketingemail@jmu.edu 
    • use styling of fonts, colors, and graphics that are in accordance with the official JMU Identity Guide

Reasoning behind the policy

  • With over 31 million page visits per year (as of 10/28/2020), the www.jmu.edu website is a major source of information for prospective students, prospective parents, alumni, faculty, staff, current students, and the community.  The content and branding of the entire www.jmu.edu website needs to be consistent in its experience and accessibility in order to be an effective communication channel for such large audiences.  This consistent experience is especially needed for prospective students and their parents, as they are often viewing the site for the first time.
  • All official visual components undergo visual and functional testing on all major desktop and mobile browsers.  Any non-official visual component will not undergo these tests, and may not appear or perform as expected on every major browser.
  • With limited resources, JMU can adequately support only a limited amount of blocks and formats.

Benefits of adhering to the web content policy

  • A consistent experience with a small number of interface components across all pages allows website visitors to more quickly learn how to interact with the site.  Conversely, if there are a large number of interfaces, website visitors experience more cognitive load as they learn each one, resulting in decreased performance.
  • Consistent colors, fonts, and graphics across all pages contribute to a stronger brand, which results in increased performance.  Conversely, when pages have conflicting brand markers, the visitor experiences more cognitive load, resulting in decreased performance.

Website hosting policy

  • All JMU websites are to be hosted on www.jmu.edu and content managed by Cascade unless there are technical needs that cannot be fulfilled by those platforms.  These technical needs should be discussed with University Marketing and IT Web before any other platforms are used.  The definition of a "JMU Website" is one that it is maintained predominantly by JMU employees and/or students.
  • Any domains with letters "jmu" in them will have to adhere to the brand guidelines in the https://www.jmu.edu/identity website.  If this is not possible, the domain should not have the letters "jmu" in it, and the website should not show itself as an official JMU website.

Reasoning behind the policy

  • By law, there are links that are required to appear on jmu.edu pages, such as Title IX, FOIA, and Annual Security and Fire Safety Report. When the state asks JMU to add or modify a link, it will automatically be seen on all pages on the Cascade system. Sites hosted outside the Cascade system will not receive those updates and JMU would be liable.
  • Cascade templates have centralized and standardized font sizes, color combinations, and usability conventions that are responsive and 508 compliant. If there is a 508 violation, it can be fixed in the centralized codebase and shared with all Cascade templates automatically. Sites hosted outside the Cascade system would have to be fixed individually, at greater expense, and therefore may not be implemented, therefore putting JMU at greater legal risk.
  • Cascade templates have stylistic conventions built in. A third-party hosted site would have to do quite a bit of work to follow the guidelines in http://www.jmu.edu/identity to duplicate those styles externally. Often, graphic designers are hired to do this work, which has already been done in Cascade. This redundancy is a misuse of state funds.
  • Cascade pages have a single, centralized Google Analytics account with the ability to automatically email reports daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. With dozens of disparate websites, it is much more difficult, or impossible, to centralize analytics data in order to determine overall engagement with JMU’s website presence.
  • Even though some CMS platforms can hook up to JMU's official Google Analytics account, JMU's Cascade platform supports Google Tag Manager, which can do much more than Google Analytics, including pixel placement without any code changes.  Most CMS platforms do not support Google Tag Manager.
  • Emergency notification banners appear on all Cascade pages automatically when there is an emergency. JMU is potentially liable if these messages do not appear on its official websites.
  • Having all websites centralized on Cascade allows the University to know exactly what JMU content is out there representing JMU. This allows University Marketing to support content creation if needed.
  • Tests of Cascade content is done weekly to ensure quality. No such automatic testing is available on platforms other than Cascade.
  • All JMU website pages can be searched in a central place, on jmu.edu.

Benefits of adhering to the web hosting policy

  • Technical Support from IT
  • Brand support from University Marketing
  • Consistent and professional look with the rest of JMU sites
  • Built-in mobile support
  • Google Analytics reporting (with Google Tag Manager)
  • Better page ranking (being affiliated with jmu.edu)
  • Better discoverability (from in-site search)
  • Automatic design updates
  • Automatic feature updates

Website archiving policy

  • In order to improve jmu.edu's search, page-ranking, and overall SEO, sites (first-level directories such as /academics) not maintained for 3 years or more will be considered for archival. Sites will be archived if the content does not have historical significance or if the content could possibly be mixed in with current content and thus weaken site searchability. This second point is the main purpose of making sure the site stays up to date.
  • If a site is archived, the owner of the site will be contacted, if possible, and a redirect set up, if appropriate. The files will be archived by University Marketing, then the directory will be deleted from the webserver.
  • If a site is worthy of historical significance and will yield useful information when searched and the site is not adhering to current design standards, the site could be considered for a migration or archive.
  • Site pages may be archived to the scholarly commons if the content needs to be historically preserved (ie, old issues of "Monty": http://www.jmu.edu/monty)
  • Site pages may be migrated to the newest design if the content is still useful for the public (ie, Centennial Celebration: http://www.jmu.edu/centennialcelebration)

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