Web Guidelines, Standards and Resources


UCSC’s website is organized with information displayed on pages that nest one within the other, from least to most granular. This structure combines best practices, a coherent information architecture, and consistent web and graphic design to provide an effective and helpful web presence for our campus and its extended community.

  1. Purpose

    This document defines UC Santa Cruz guidelines for the use of electronic communication (EC) resources for World Wide Web communications and applications. These guidelines and standards apply to all web pages and web-based services that use University-owned or -operated electronic communication resources.

  2. Definitions

    1. Web Structure - refers to the hierarchy for organizing web content. It provides information much like a book does using a home page instead of a book cover, layers instead of a table of contents, etc. The hierarchy determines the requirements and accountability for branding, continuity, compliance and responsibility.

      1. Top Level Pages - provide an overview of UC Santa Cruz campus programs, services, and activities and serve as a gateway to the campus Web presence. Examples of these pages include the UCSC Home page and "home environment" second –level pages, such as About UCSC. These pages utilize "home environment" templates that are reserved for only this use. These pages are created within the campus' Web Content Management System (WCMS).
      2. Other Official Web Pages - are the responsibility of the head of an academic or administrative unit. These encompass, but are not limited to, university departments, divisions, research groups and activities. Examples of these pages include the Social Sciences Division, and the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics (created in the WCMS) The official campus web design is preferred for these pages and these sites should adhere to minimum UCSC branding and navigational standards. Departmental faculty pages or "directory" pages (see example) linked from department pages should conform to that department's web page structure.
      3. Affiliated Web Pages - are maintained under the direction of an officially recognized campus unit (e.g. division, department) that is responsible for these pages. Examples of these pages are UCSC's many Friends Group Sites. Whether the pages are created in or outside the WCMS, affiliated web pages should still adhere to relevant UCSC and/or UC guidelines for content, electronic use, branding and Principles of Community. To ensure that all relevant policies and guidelines are adhered to, a sponsoring organization and individual sponsor within that organization must be identified as the responsible party for the affiliated pages. The sponsoring organization and individual sponsor are also responsible for approving sundry account access to any non-employees granted editorial access to affiliated web pages.
      4. Individual / Personal Web Pages - are maintained by campus-affiliated individuals and may or may not be published on UCSC systems. These pages may present the personal views and materials of those individuals (e.g. - people.ucsc.edu). UCSC does not preview, review, or censor the content of individual web pages. Authors of individual pages are responsible for obeying all relevant laws and university policies. Individual web pages wishing to use the campus template should meet UCSC's web standards as outlined in this document.
    2. Personal Information - is information that identifies or describes an individual including but not limited to name, social security number, physical description, home address, personal telephone number, education, financial matters, and medical or employment history. A domain name or IP address is not considered personal information; however it is considered "electronically collected personal information."
    3. Electronically collected personal information - Defined by California Government Code Section 11015.5 as "any information that is maintained by an agency that identifies or describes an individual user, including, but not limited to, his or her name, social security number, physical description, home address, home telephone number, education, financial matters, medical or employment history, password, electronic mail address, and information that reveals any network location or identity, but excludes any information manually submitted to a state agency by a user, whether electronically or in written form, and information on or relating to individuals who are users, serving in a business capacity, including, but not limited to, business owners, officers, or principals of that business."
    4. False identity - a person assumes a false identity if the person pretends to be, or passes himself or herself off as, some other person.
    5. Pseudonym - an alternative name or electronic identification for oneself.
    6. Authoritative Content - Authoritative content is the primary source for certain types of information. The units that are responsible for this type of content should ensure that it is the best and most accurate source. Other units and sites should point to the authoritative content, rather than recreating it.
    7. Campus Domain Names - Any Internet address that contains the top-level domain (TLD) ".ucsc.edu" is a campus domain name.
    8. Campus Templates - a set of web page templates that have been developed and defined by University Relations for distribution to academic and administrative divisions, departments and units. These templates are characterized by branding elements, look and feel, and information architecture intended to create a cohesive campus web presence for the end user.
    9. Restricted Data - Any confidential or personal information that is protected by law or policy and requires the highest level of access control and security protection, whether in storage or in transit. Complete Definition or Restricted Data.
  3. Campus Web Guidelines

    1. Campus Web Design

      1. Official campus web design: Development and maintenance of the official campus web design (i.e. "look and feel") is the responsibility of Communications & Marketing Office within the Division of University Relations. This includes the creation and evolution of standard design templates for the web, as well as interpretation and implementation of specific design questions. Sites utilizing the official campus web designs should adhere to established guidelines and requirements, as defined in the University Relations Identity Guidelines.
      2. Conditions of use for Campus Templates: The campus web templates are embedded in the Campus WCMS. Authors interested in using the official campus web designs outside the WCMS should contact the C&M Office before initiating such a project. Units and individuals should not approximate the look and feel of the campus templates through local design without contacting the C&M office prior to doing so.
    2. Minimum Requirements

      All UC Santa Cruz official and departmental web pages should:

      1. Support and/or promote the teaching, research and public service mission of the University and the administrative functions that support this mission.
      2. Comply with and meet the standards in the campus's Principles of Community.
      3. Have an Internet domain name owned and registered by a campus unit, as opposed to an individual.
      4. Adhere to campus Web Standards listed below.
      5. Site owners and operators are responsible for copyright compliance on their sites. All copyrighted information (text, images, icons, programs, video, audio, etc.) must be used in conformance with applicable copyright and other law. Copied material must be properly attributed. Plagiarism of digital information is subject to the same sanctions as apply to plagiarism in any other media.
      6. Be accessible to users with disabilities, either directly or through alternate accommodations by following standards described in Section IV.a.
      7. Ensure the privacy and security of personal information, electronically collected personal information and other restricted data.
      8. Adhere to all relevant federal, state, local and university laws and policies.
    3. Domain Naming Conventions

      Standards for the establishment of UCSC Domain Names

      1. Campus domain names (e.g., unitname.ucsc.edu) in the UCSC domain are approved by University Relations and implemented by Information Technology Services. University Relations may authorize, deny, or reclaim the use of Domain Names. Permission to use a UCSC Domain Name should generally be granted only to meet campus-wide strategic communication objectives. All promoted UCSC Domain Names should take visitors to sites that are in compliance with UCSC Web Standards listed below.
      2. Individuals registering domain names outside the UCSC domain (e.g., deliveringthefuture.org), which serve an official university purpose, are advised to consult with University Relations prior to launching a site on that domain.
      3. The following UCSC Domain Name standard outlines the names that are permissible and those that are not. It also describes the type of naming requests that may be considered.
      4. Categories that may be granted with permission include:
        1. Academic and Administrative Divisions (e.g., pbsci.ucsc.edu)
        2. Academic departments (e.g., politics.ucsc.edu)
        3. Colleges (e.g., stevenson.ucsc.edu)
        4. Major administrative units (e.g., police.ucsc.edu)
        5. Well-established research centers or other activity centers (e.g., seymourcenter.ucsc.edu)
        6. Functional names (e.g., press.ucsc.edu)
        7. Events (e.g., http://pacificrim.ucsc.edu/)
        8. Student Organizations (e.g. sua.ucsc.edu)
      5. Campus Domain Names will not be granted for the following uses in the interest of consistency and persistence of information:
        1. Individual pages (Official profiles should exist within the department site structure, and may provide links to individual pages)
        2. Courses
        3. Shortcuts to a single page in an existing Web site
        4. To enable multiple names to point to the same site (Multiple names should be handled through redirects)
      6. Mobile Domain Names - Using the above approved naming convention, a prefix of "m.name.ucsc.edu" is the preferred naming convention for pages targeted for mobile devices.
    4. Affiliated and Personal Web pages

      1. Officially recognized campus organizations may use campus resources for affiliated web pages.
      2. Department heads may permit students, staff, faculty, and other individuals associated with a department, to use resources for the creation and maintenance of personal Web pages.
      3. On personal Web pages, UC Santa Cruz makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of the information contained on these Web pages or of the security or privacy of any information collected by these Web pages. All views expressed in a personal web page are those of the author and not UC Santa Cruz.
      4. Affiliated and personal web pages should display information disclosing the identity of the Web page author, including a contact name and e-mail address. If there is more than one page, this information should appear on at least one page, preferably the top-level home page. Web page authors should not use false identities but may use a pseudonym so long as the pseudonym does not constitute a false identity or could be considered obscene. Users should be directed to send any concerns or comments about these Web pages to the Web page author.
      5. Content of affiliated and personal web pages should be professional and informative; placeholder content ("coming soon") is discouraged.
      6. Affiliated and personal pages should not be used to transmit commercial or personal advertisements, solicitations, or promotions.
      7. All content authors are legally responsible for their commentary. Individuals can be held personally liable for any commentary deemed to be defamatory, obscene, proprietary, or libelous.
      8. Officially recognized campus organizations may be authorized to use UC Santa Cruz trademarks on their Web pages. To request permission, contact University Relations. Personal web pages should not use UC Santa Cruz logos, seals or other campus trademarks.
    5. Collection of Personal and Restricted Information

      1. UC Santa Cruz Web pages designed to collect personal information for the University shall be published in accordance with University policy and procedures. If your Web site is designed to collect personal information, you must adhere to the following UC and UCSC Web policies:

        1. UCSC's Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)
        2. UC Electronic Communications Policy (ECP)
REQUIREMENTS INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO: Sec IV.C.1.c which has specific rules about electronically gathered personal data. Users must be notified if personally identifiable information will be collected, and must be able to terminate an electronic communications transaction without leaving personal data.
        3. UCSC's Implementation of the UC Electronic Communications Policy (ECPI)
REQUIREMENTS INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO: Section IX.A requiring information about required privacy protections for personal information, including release of information and sale or distribution of personally identifiable information, and Section X.A which talks about relevant standards and host names for web pages.
        4. UC Records Management and Privacy: UC Business & Finanacial Bulletin RMP-8, Legal Requirements on Privacy of and Access to Information
      2. In addition: If your Web site collects restricted data, comply with UC Business & Finance Bulletins: IS-3, Electronic Information Security. Restricted data includes but is not limited to:
        1. Social Security numbers
        2. Drivers license numbers or State ID card numbers
        3. Financial account numbers, including credit or debit card numbers
        4. Personal medical information or health insurance information
        5. Other information for which adverse effect may result from unauthorized access or disclosure
      3. The following restricted data elements are NOT to be collected without a business need that has been reviewed and approved by one or more of the following offices:
        1. For all matters related to restricted information and requests for information, contact the Executive Director, Records and Information Management in the office of the Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor.
        2. For financial information including SSN collected for business purposes, contact the Campus Controller.
        3. For faculty research activities, contact the UCSC Institutional Review Board in the Office of Sponsored Projects.
      4. The following should not be collected without permission by The Registrar's Office:
        1. Student information as defined by the campus registrar.
        2. Student records
      5. The following should not be collected without permission by the Undergraduate or Graduate Admissions Office:
        1. Undergraduate or graduate student applicant information and records
      6. If your website collects mailing list and telephone directory information, please comply with UC Business & Finanacial Bulletin.
      7. All web pages that use Google Analytics must clearly indicate that they are doing so, post their privacy policy, and inform users that this tool uses a cookie that collects anonymous traffic data. The standard implementation of this policy is to include the statement, "Web statistics by Google Analytics" on each page using the service, with a link to the ITS "Terms and Conditions of Use" page for Google Analytics. All web pages within the WCMS contain this link in the footer of each page.
      8. If you post or distribute copyrighted materials or provide a mechanism for download, posting or sharing of copyrighted materials on the web, please comply with UCSC's Copyright Education website.
      9. Additional Resources: Glossary of UCSC's IT Policy-Related Terms; Security and Technology Policies and Guidelines
  4. Standards

    1. Accessibility standards

      1. In accordance with University of California policy (see IMT-1300), all UC Santa Cruz Web sites should conform to the WCAG 2.0 level AA standards for Web-based information. For further information, visit UCOP’s Resources for Designing Accessible Web Sites, which contains information about standards, assessment tools, design tips, and training resources.
      2. Additional accessibility guidelines
        1. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are established by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). W3C has established guidelines for additional levels of accessibility not addressed in Section 508, sub-section 1194.22 of the Rehabilitation Act.
        2. Regardless of the standards employed in Web site accessibility, the Web page owner is responsible for providing information to a user who is unable to access information from a campus Web site due to disability.
    2. Design Standards & Best Practices

      1. UC Santa Cruz Identification: Every web page (excluding individual/personal web pages) should display an official UC Santa Cruz logo at the top of the page. The logo should be a link to the UCSC home page.
      2. UC Santa Cruz Branding: The UC Santa Cruz identity standards are intended to serve as a foundation for applying consistent graphic and editorial standards to UC Santa Cruz's print and online communications. Authors of websites are encouraged to make use of branding elements provided in the UCSC Identity Guidelines.
      3. Web Site Templates: The campus maintains professionally designed web site design templates. These templates are standard within the Campus Web Content Management System (WCMS), and may also be made available outside the WCMS.
 Top Tier Pages are required to use the campus Web templates. Other Official Web Pages are encouraged, but not required, to use the campus Web templates. Affiliated Web Pages may use the campus Web templates under certain circumstances, per section III.d.
    3. Technical Standards

      1. Browser Standards: Web page authors should be aware that users access information from a variety of hardware and software tools. When creating content and web pages authors should employ adherence to best usability design practices, W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and other coding standards. A thorough testing on various platforms should occur prior to publicly publishing content. See the ITS Desktop and Software Standards page for support for installation, troubleshooting, and use of software based on current standards. Compliance with these standards ensures your web pages and software will be supported by the ITS Support Center.
      2. Web Site Navigation Standards: In order to promote a consistent user experience while visiting UCSC Web sites, the campus maintains standards of navigation for Web sites built using the campus web templates. All web sites (excluding individual/personal web sites) are expected to adhere to the navigational standards.
      3. Identity of Web Page Contact: All web sites should include a reliable method for contacting a person responsible for the site.
      4. Assure Timeliness and Accuracy: Principal Officers are responsible for periodic reviews of the information on their pages. They should ensure that content is regularly revised based on relevancy, accuracy and accessibility.
      5. Appropriate content: Due to the public nature of the web, confidential information as defined by UCOP (see this Word document) shall not be published on web pages.
      6. Advertising/Acknowledgement: See ITS Commercial Endorsement Policy for information on allowable advertising/acknowledgements on UCSC Web sites.
      7. Copyright
        1. All UC Santa Cruz Web sites must comply with federal copyright laws. Failure to comply may result in the Web site being blocked until the infringement is corrected. (See UC Copyright)
        2. All official and department web pages shall include a copyright notice as follows (minimum acceptable wording):

          Copyright © 2010(year) The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

  5. References and Related Policies

    1. Office of the President:

      1. University of California Electronic Communications Policy
      2. Delegation of Authority 864, Policy to Permit Use of the University's Name, 5/3/85
    2. Section 508 References & Resources:

      1. Federal Access Board's Guide to Web-based Intranet and Internet Information
      2. Federal Section 508
      3. WebAIM Section 508 Web Accessibility Checklists
      4. University of Wisconsin Section 508 Web Development Guidelines
    3. Accessibility References and Resources:

      1. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
      2. Web Accessibility Initiative Site
      3. Guide to Federal Disability Rights Laws
      4. California state law SB105
      5. Government Code section 11135
      6. University of California Guidelines Applying to Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability
      7. State Administrative Manual Section 4833 Information Technology Accessibility
    4. Federal Trade Commission--Children's Online Privacy Protection Rules
    5. California Education Code Section 92000
    6. UCSC Web Services