Web Governance

The development of the University of Massachusetts Boston’s website was an extensive undertaking and major investment in enhancing the university’s electronic image. It is important that as a campus community we maintain www.umb.edu and all its sub-sites according to best practices and at the highest quality possible.

To that end, this document outlines the management and governance of the UMass Boston web environment. Web governance refers to people, policies, procedures, standards, and guidelines that govern the creation and maintenance of our official website.

Note: This is a working document and is subject to change to meet the evolving web needs of the university.

Table of Contents


The primary objective of this document is to provide collaborative centralized governance for the ongoing development, deployment, delivery, and maintenance of UMass Boston digital image and to achieve a consistent look and for the official university web pages consistently representing the UMass Boston brand through standard processes, roles, responsibilities, and practices.

This objective will be pursued with the website’s underlying strategic priority in mind: to facilitate a user experience that will develop a lasting digital relationship with all visitors – but particularly students and prospective students – providing them with the information they need quickly, easily, and enjoyably. To that end, the website must be arranged in a way that intuitively presents information to users, particularly students and prospective students, to facilitate a satisfactory, pleasant online experience.

Governance Structure

The Web Governance Board is composed of the university CIO (Bob Weir), the vice chancellor for enrollment management (Lisa Johnson), and the university’s director of communications (DeWayne Lehman).

It is the responsibility of the Web Governance Board to set the direction and policies for the university’s website and the web operating environment based on best practices. In order that directions and policies are set with a full understanding of the issues and impact of the decision, decisions appropriate to the jurisdiction of the Web Governance Board will be reached by consensus. Consensus is defined as achievement of full support for a decision after a complete airing of differing viewpoints. Consensus is achieved through discussion. If the group cannot reach consensus, the options will be presented to the Office of the Chancellor and Office of the Provost with a recommendation for resolution.

The Web Governance Board will continually look at opportunities to communicate relevant information to appropriate audiences and take input from the Web Technology Advisory Committee, who will review requests from academic and administration stakeholders. The Web Technology Advisory Committee is comprised of representatives from administrative, operational, and technical teams: the Assistant Vice Provost for IT Application Services (Linda Modiste), Webmaster (Jim Wyse), and Digital Communications Editor (Colleen Locke).

A group of content directors from every college/office on campus make up the Web Steering Committee. The Web Governance Board will call meetings of the Web Steering Committee once a semester. The Web Governance Board and Web Technology Advisory Committee will update the Web Steering Committee on project plans. The Web Steering Committee will then disseminate that information to their staff and department members. Throughout the year, the Web Steering Committee and other web visitors are invited to send ideas, requests, problems, and concerns to the Web Governance Board via this form. These ideas, requests, problems, and concerns will be logged into the ActiveCollab system.

Responsibilities of Web Technology Governance Board and Advisory Committee

Governance Policies


The website, www.umb.edu, is the sole property of the UMass Boston; while certain faculty and staff will have access to edit certain portions of the site, create new content, and remove old content, the site and all its sub-sites remain the property of the university.

The website provides a platform to showcase the university’s best qualities and project a positive image to the entire world. It is a strategic asset that carries enormous influence and provides global access to all aspects of the university. With more than a hundred web editors managing portions of the site, guidelines that encourage clarity, accuracy, and consistency are essential to protecting the university’s online image. This document aims to cover all areas of web governance, but if you have questions that are not answered upon reviewing this, please contact webeditor@umb.edu, the Office of Communications, or IT Web Services.

The university’s central Office of Communications has access to all areas of the UMass Boston website and to ensure quality control, will edit/alter content as needed for clarity, grammar, spelling, usage, and style, as well as to conform with university naming conventions and branding. The university reserves the right to revise or delete content housed either on university IT resources or external resources that does not meet acceptable use guidelines or the standards outlined in this policy.

Request/Appeal Process

Requests submitted to IT Web Services will be reviewed by the webmaster before being assigned. If there are questions about the request, it will be referred to web and/or communications staff for a decision. If the requesting party disagrees with the decision, it will be reviewed by the Web Technology Advisory Committee. The decision of the Web Advisory Committee may be appealed to the Web Governance Board, which will make the final decision.


Permissions are determined by user groups, which are generally the same for all editors assigned to that specific area (e.g., all users in the McCormack user group have the same privileges). If specific needs are determined (e.g., certain users can only write in draft mode), web content directors (the people in charge of the webpages for their office/department/college/center), should contact IT Web Services. Web content directors should also contact IT Web Services if editors (e.g., students, former employees) should no longer have permission to edit the site. For their own reference, it is recommended that web content directors maintain a current list of current web editors and their access privileges.

Quality Control/Workflow

Web content directors are responsible for determining their own internal workflow. It may be that the web writer/editor is also the web content director, or that there are multiple writers who report to a web content director. Content directors need to contact IT Web Services if there are editors in their groups who should only have the ability to “edit” pages, not “publish” pages. Only “publishers” will be able to make changes that will instantly go live on the site.

Regardless of the structure, when your department makes changes to existing pages, have a second person review the webpage(s) content before you publish it. Make sure that you are checking the “Check Spelling” box within the Body Text area before you submit changes. It won’t catch everything, but is still a useful tool.

If a blatant spelling mistake(s) or factual error(s) appear on a page, the Office of Communications will correct the page and contact the writer/editor responsible to advise taking more care when making or reviewing changes. If this is a recurring problem, the office will relay the concern to the manager of the area and may suspend editing privileges until it is resolved.

Requests for new pages must be submitted online here.

New entries must be reviewed by the university web editor prior to being published. Members of the Office of Communications will also be reviewing all news and events entries for spelling, grammar, and style. It is imperative that we all work together to keep the new website free of typos, bad grammar, etc. and consistent in style and quality.


Only editors who have been formally trained will be given access to the content management system.  The university web editor and IT liaisons are responsible for initial training, after which editors may utilize various support documents and training screencasts by visiting the UMass Boston Wiki at https://www.umb.edu/wiki. (Note: you must be logged in to the system to see the Wiki site.) The web editor and IT liaisons will provide up to two in-person sessions on how to edit on the site; it is the trainee’s responsibility to absorb the material, to practice what they learn in these sessions, and to utilize the training and style documents that are provided.

Written Content/Messaging/Branding

The university’s new site embraces a writing style that engages our readers in a conversation. We want to speak directly to them, answer their questions, and give them information as concisely and clearly as possible. We don’t want to bog them down with text. Web visitors are task oriented – they skim and scan, getting just enough information to get to their next destination. Subheadings and bulleted and numbered lists are tools to help us achieve these goals.

So that we 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 UMass Boston Web Writing Style Guide. UMass Boston primarily follows the Chicago Manual of Style and occasionally the New York Times Manual of Style and Usage. When there is a discrepancy, Chicago trumps the NYT.  

Course Listings

The only course description which can appear on the university webpage is the Registrar’s Office’s description. Web editors should link to the course as it appears on the course catalog page. Editors cannot post a link to a Word doc or a PDF that includes the department’s own course description. The Office of Communications reserves the right to take down such links.

Visual Content

Photography that meets a high professional standard plays a critical role in creating a positive image of UMass Boston. The photographic images used on the website should inspire prospective students and faculty and make a connection with the people and activities depicted and they should make alumni feel proud of their connection with UMass Boston. To achieve these goals, when posting photos on the site, use primarily documentary-style photography that captures the authentic and vibrant interactions among students and among students and faculty.  Obviously, it will be important to show a range of genders, ethnic backgrounds, races, ages, etc., but try to avoid artificial-looking situations that are obviously trying to communicate diversity. See the UMass Boston Brand Manual for additional guidance.

The Office of Communications, working with IT, Creative Services, and web editors for individual units of the university, will select all college, department, and center branding photos (the photos on the landing pages for the colleges, departments, and centers). These may be rotated out at the change of a semester or at the end of the year. If you would like your college or department photo changed, email webeditor@umb.edu. Web editors for the individual departments, offices, and centers are responsible for all other photos on their pages. Editors should follow the guidelines set forth in the brand manual, as well as keep photos under 200KB where possible to allow for quicker page load times.

Part of the strategic plan when it came to the website was ensuring that there was a uniform, professional look to all faculty and staff photos featured on the official biography pages. Therefore, Harry Brett, the university photographer based in the Office of Communications, is taking all of the faculty and staff photos for the faculty bio pages.

Faculty members are welcome to use their own pictures on their own, personal websites.

When faculty members are at the photo shoots with Harry, they are welcome to look at the photos and get a retake right then and there.

Should you wish to discuss this matter further, please contact Director of Communications DeWayne Lehman.

As a public university, it is critical to make our site accessible to all users. When adding photos, you need to include “Alt Text” so that those who are visually impaired and using text browsers can know what your picture or illustration looks like. The World Wide Web Consortium accessibility guidelines suggest that you imagine reading the picture/illustration aloud over the telephone. What would you say about the image to make your listeners understand it? Shorter is better: A good rule of thumb is to keep it between 5 and 15 words.


Videos are an important component of telling the UMass Boston story, and like other materials that tell our stories – brochures, handbooks, web pages, etc. – they need to adhere to university brand standards and be consistent in style, tone, and message. For information on graphics and fonts that should be used in videos posted on the umb.edu site, refer to the video guidelines document.

See the Video Production Guide for some things to think about as you begin the video production process.

All videos posted on www.umb.edu must be ADA compliant. All videos that appear on the UMass Boston website must be captioned. This applies to videos produced through the university’s Video Production Center, and independently-produced videos. This does not apply to videos posted on YouTube, which are linked to from the university site, but not on the university site proper. Any video embedded on umb.edu which is not captioned as of December 1, 2011, will be removed from the site.

Brightcove, which is the new video system for UMass campuses, has partnered with Automated Sync Technologies (AST) to provide captioning services for videos. The office/department/center in charge of the video needs to pay for this service. Contact John Jessoe at the VPC for pricing.

You do not need to provide a transcript, but you may need to give the VPC a list of names or terms that would not show up in a standard spell check by AST.

If you’d like a video embedded on the university’s website or posted on UMass Boston’s YouTube Channel, please refer to the video guidelines document for additional instructions.

Use of Social Media and New Technologies

If you participate in or maintain a social media site on behalf of the university, clearly state your role and goals. Before you jump into a discussion thread or respond to a posting, think about the implications. Will your response stimulate positive discussion, provide new information or insight, or inflame? If you have any questions about whether it’s appropriate to enter into a social media discussion or write about certain kinds of material in your role as a UMass Boston employee, ask your supervisor before you post or contact the Office of Communications.

Uphold the university’s mission and values in your activities. Don’t include political or personal comments. This includes changes to your photo or avatar in relation to political or social issues. Nothing erodes credibility more quickly than factual inaccuracies and poor grammar, spelling, and attention to detail. Always double check your facts, and if you’re not the best editor, have someone else read your postings before going live. Ask the Office of Communications for help setting up Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. (See additional guidelines here.)

For information on branding on social media sites, see the UMass Boston Web Brand Manual.

Mobile Applications

Colleges, departments, and centers should contact IT Web Services prior to launching mobile applications to ensure the applications follow UMass Boston branding standards.


Google Analytics has been embedded in all site pages, so departments wanting to track page views do not need to embed codes on their own. If you add your own code, that code will not only will show up in search results on umb.edu in place of more important information to a web visitor, but it will also negatively affect the code already in place because it will fight it. Departments that wish to utilize this data should request an account for their own access and reporting needs. IT will produce monthly statistics to be included in reports to the Office of the Provost per existing criteria.

Change Management

All changes are to be posted and all pertinent parties notified of major changes and or outages, third-party integrations, operations, and capacity planning (with reports and metrics from our hosting vendor). Appropriate change management and communications with the hosting provider will be followed. The IT Department will post all major planned events on the IT Technology Changes page.

Large Web Requests

Even though some departments may be able to make financial investments for web work on their behalf, all work orders that require more than 40 hours of work must be approved by the Web Governance Board. This is also the case for any request for proposals issued for website work.

Content Management System

All content will be held and propagated to the site using the approved CMS EllisLab’s Expression Engine and its implemented version. No other software product may be used within UMass Boston’s approved CMS and its build architecture. Additional sites, upon approval, may be linked to when appropriate. All content editors are expected to ensure all “links” are live, tested, and appropriately implemented.


All web editors should familiarize themselves and follow the ADA Compliancy guidelines in the Wiki document. IT Web Services will run all site pages through a W3C compliant validation product, currently CynthiaSays™, to ensure 508C compliancy for the disabled. See also: Videos, Visual Content.

Last Updated: March 3, 2014