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Web Policies for Externally Funded Organizations

Depending on your needs, the Department of Marketing and Communications offers three Web design options. When you are ready to develop your Web presence, a member of the Communications team will help you decide which of these options is best for your organization.

Overall, each of the following three design options will allow Web administrators to use Site Executive, our content management system, and allow for design customization, consistency with School branding, and search capabilities. Training in Site Executive will be provided to all Web administrators.

Design Option 1 consists of one template that works within the design of the School's current site (similar to the departmental sites), yet allows some features to be customized. Those choosing this option will have their name prominently featured, a custom graphic to represent them, a choice of color palette, and content-searching capabilities. An optional promotion area for highlighting important news and events is available on their homepage as well. There is no charge for Design Option 1.

Design Option 2 allows customization of the site. Those choosing this option will work closely with the Web designer to develop the look of their site, for instance by selecting images that will help maintain their site's visual appeal. Promotional areas are provided on all main-level pages, including an area on the homepage for highlighting news and events. Each Option 2 website will be equipped with a personal search engine that will only register content from the site's own pages. There is a $5,000 charge for the planning, programming, design and production of the Option 2 website.

Design Option 3 offers the most customization and is intended for those with a substantial amount of content. Those choosing this option will work closely with the Web designer to develop the look of their site, selecting images to create an extensive graphics library and slide show tailored to the site's specific goals. Slide shows are used to present research projects, students, faculty and environments in a more linear fashion than is generally possible on the Web. These slide shows are presented as a pop-up window that tells a story as the user clicks through a series of images. Promotional areas are provided on all main-level pages, including an area on the homepage for promoting news and events. Option 3 websites will also be equipped with their own search engine. There is a $7,000 charge for the planning, programming, design and production of the Option 3 website.

Websites on our server must meet certain minimal design and content standards:

  • sites must contain the official School logo ("brand"), and follow the standards as directed by the Identity Manual, which can be found on the Web at www.jhsph.edu/identity/
  • sites must be kept up to date. The Office of Communications will review each center and institute site semi-annually to see that they are current

If a site is found to be outdated, a notice will be sent to the department chair stating that the site is no longer current and must be brought up to date by a specified time. If that deadline is not met, the site will be taken off-line until it is in compliance. A fee of $1,000 will be charged for reinstating it.

Benefits of Site Executive

We strongly recommend that Site Executive be used for all pages of any website residing on the School's servers. Site Executive helps users maintain a clean, easy-to-update site, and offers features and benefits not available to sites built within an HTML environment. The Site Executive software is constantly being refined and updated with new features and enhancements that make it easier to use and more customizable to the School's unique needs. After reviewing the continued success we have had with Site Executive, the School of Medicine, as well as the University, has decided to use Site Executive for their websites. The benefits of designing a site with Site Executive include:

  • Changes to the School's overall website, whether in design or content, can be applied and updated globally. Since no announcement will be made concerning global changes made to the School's site, whether to navigation, terminology, links, content or design, those sites not within Site Executive will run a much higher risk of becoming outdated and inconsistent.
  • Staff who maintain the site do not need to know HTML or FTP technology to update and change content.
  • Training in Site Executive costs $200 and is offered monthly in the Welch Center computer labs at 2024 E. Monument Street. Click here for more information.
  • All material added to a site via Site Executive will be reviewed by Web-content editors before the site goes "live," thus minimizing embarrassing content or style errors.
  • All Site Executive sites are indexed by WebTrends, a software program that tracks visitors to each site, who is coming and how frequently, what pages are most popular, how long visitors linger on a site, how many daily hits a site gets, what keywords are used to find the site, and other valuable data that help administrators refine and maintain their sites with an eye to achieving maximum exposure. Centers may log onto the WebTrends page at any time to view their reports.
  • Updates and enhancements to Site Executive are continually being made, based on feedback from both content writers and visitors.
  • Site Executive allows keywords to be typed into descriptors to aid search engines and directories with finding and indexing your site, which improves search engine rankings.
  • Site Executive incorporates many support features of Section 508 (see "Section 508 Compliance," below), as well as advanced Priority 2 and 3 requirements of the World Wide Web Consortium.

Section 508 Compliance

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual's ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily.

Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. '794d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain or use electronic and information technology. We recommend that you review the laws and regulations to further your understanding about Section 508 and how you can support its implementation.

What Does Section 508 Mean for the jhsph.edu Website?
 
The design criteria for Web-based technology and information are based on access guidelines developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Many of these criteria were stipulated to ensure access for people with vision impairments who must rely on various assistive products to access computer-based information--for instance, screen readers that translate what's on a computer screen into automated audible output and refreshable Braille displays. Certain conventions, such as verbal tags or identification of graphics or format devices such as frames, are mandated so that these assistive devices can "read" the computer screen for the user efficiently. The standards do not prohibit the use of website graphics or animation, but they aim to ensure that such information is also available in a format accessible to people with vision impairments. Generally, this means using text labels or descriptors for graphics, along with certain format elements. (HTML code provides an Alt tag for graphics, which automatically provides a verbal descriptor for graphics. Site Executive users can also specify Alt tags. )

The standards apply to federal websites but not to private-sector websites (unless a site is provided under contract to a federal agency, in which case only that website or portion covered by the contract would have to comply). Accessible sites offer significant advantages that go beyond access. For example, those with "text only" options can be downloaded faster and can facilitate transmission of Web-based data to cell phones and personal digital assistants.

Section 508 guidelines require all federal government agencies to provide equal access to electronic and information technology, effective June 21, 2001. Enforcement of these guidelines has greatly raised industry-wide awareness of universal accessibility. Many state and county agencies are also requiring Section 508 compliance. Site Executive's newest release, version 2.5, embeds auto-generated links into pages to aid sight-impaired persons navigating content-intensive sites by means of a screen reader.

Three key websites with more information about Section 508 and accessibility:
508 Site- - www.section508.gov
Access Board - www.access-board.gov
W3C - www.w3c.org

In Conclusion

The Web team has content writers and editors, a programmer, and a Web designer to help you with the process of building your site. A project request form can be accessed online at http://commprojects.jhsph.edu/communications.

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