Web Site Information

University System of Georgia

Standards for Web Environments


As the scope of the University System of Georgia (USG) web presence broadens, it is necessary to have in place a framework to guide and accommodate the development and growth of the USG web site. The USG web site strives to be a dynamic, informative site that provides the visitor with reliable information and is easily navigable. To assist in accomplishing this goal, the Office of Media & Publications and Information and Web Services (IWS) provide the following guidelines for publishing your information on the USG web site. The guidelines are listed to provide a general framework for publishing web pages USG web sites. They are not meant to be restrictive, but to encourage web content authors to be attentive to a web site’s structure and content so that visitors to the USG web site can quickly locate information.

Publishing on the Web

Web Content Management

The USG web site presents information to the USG community and the world at-large. The organization of the home page, the global navigation and the visual style extends down three levels, providing a consistency in look and feel for each major area of the University System Office. The Office of Media & Publications are the administrators of these areas, with the exception of Academic and Administration content areas. In order to administer a page, an individual must have training using USO web content management system (CMS), Expression Engine; be willing to maintain and update the page as needed; be approved by his or her supervisor; and notify the Office of Media & Publications of the desired administrative change.

USG Web Publishing Overview

  1. The USG home page introduces the navigational framework to quickly access the first three levels of the USG web site. Specific areas of the USG home page are used to publish new information as needed. The Office of Media & Publications administers the USG home page. All new content appearing on the USG home page must be vetted by the Office of Media & Publications.
  2. All pages reflect a visual and organizational consistency respective to their level, location and purpose. The branding established on the home page sets the standard for the look and feel used throughout the web site. The Board of Regents Visual Identity Program (VIP) is applied to the overall branding of the USG web site, and when appropriate, to unique domains hosted on USG web servers.
  3. USG web site refers to the University System of Georgia web site as a whole. The home page and subpages share a navigational structure and visual design. Levels are defined as the following:
    1. The first-level is the USG homepage.
    2. The second-level is any main section linked from the homepage.
    3. Third-level sections are any other sub-pages of the USG web site.
  4. The top-level pages should have content appropriate for the page and implement persistent navigation schema. Content should be reasonable in length. Longer documents should be placed as a lower level page or linked to as a document for downloading.
  5. Before any higher level web pages (the first three levels) are posted, they must first be reviewed by the Office of Media & Publications to ensure the following:
    1. textual accuracy;
    2. adherence to BOR Visual Identity Program guidelines and ITS web coding standards;
    3. appropriate placement within the web structure.
  6. Before a lower level page is added or modified, content authors shall check spelling, grammar, and organization. All content should be proofed before publishing on the web. Any time content is added or modified, it should be immediately checked to ensure that it displays properly, contains no broken links or grammatical mistakes, and conforms to BOR/USG standards as outlined here and in the Web Content Guidelines section of this document.

Web Content Guidelines

  1. All new web content must be approved by the Office of Media & Publications before being placed on the USG web site.
  2. Remember, your content will be accessible to anyone on the Internet. Your content represents not only you and your division, but the entire BOR and USG as well, and should be professional and consistent with the rest of the USG web site.
  3. The Web audience is literally worldwide; be careful to ensure that posting the information on the USG web site will not violate any copyrights, restrictions, or agreements. For example, do not post information that would violate a non-disclosure agreement.
  4. Within the USG web site, each content area of level three and above must be written in a uniform format.
  5. To reduce spam, “mailto” links to individuals should not be used unless specifically requested.
  6. No unimplemented links and links to web pages that inform the visitor that “this area is not developed yet” or “under construction” are allowed. Every page should contain useful information before being linked within the web structure.
  7. The use of excessively large graphic files is discouraged.
  8. Links to commercial entities are not allowed. It is the general policy of the BOR to avoid linking to commercial web sites and thereby making implicit endorsements; however, links to companies that provide goods or services specifically of interest to the BOR, ITS, and USG institutions are not prohibited.
  9. No copyrighted material in any form can be used unless permission from the original copyright owner is explicitly granted. See the USG Copyright Policy web site for more information.
  10. No information pertaining to other individuals who object to the information being placed on the Web is allowed.
  11. No material that might be reasonably considered abusive, profane, harassing, or sexually offensive is allowed.

E-Mail Addresses

Developers may wish to link e-mail addresses of staff on their web site. If so, please remember that doing so may result in spam and abusive e-mail messages. The web administrator’s office has no control over e-mail received by persons listed on the USG web site.

Third Party Web Developers

In some cases, a division may wish to contract a third party to develop and design a web site for a particular project or initiative. The Office of Media & Publications and Information & Web Services request notification of third party development/design contracts in order to ensure a general awareness of ongoing projects, a collaborative atmosphere for all parties involved, and appropriate coding is used that follows current web coding standards. In addition to the items listed above, third party developers/designers must use the text “© 201x Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia” as link on the web site’s home page and lower level pages. The link may appear in the page footer.

In addition to the items listed above, we encourage that all developers follow W3C Accessibility guidelines.

Subdomain and Domain Names

Offices, departments, and divisions that initiate special projects that go beyond the purview of their web site may request a subdomain name to reflect a project’s profile. The following guidelines are proposed as general framework for evaluating the merits of subdomain and domain name requests.

Subdomain Name Guidelines

  1. All projects using subdomain names must have a high profile and extend beyond the purview of originating division, office, or department.
  2. All subdomain names must include “usg.edu” at the end of the URL. No exceptions are allowed.
  3. All web sites with subdomain names must have a link to the USG web site.
  4. All requests for subdomain names should be forwarded to ITS Customer Services (http://www.usg.edu/customer_services). Systems Support Services and IWS evaluate requests.

Domain Name Guidelines

  1. All projects using domain names must have a high profile and extend beyond the purview of originating office, department, or division.
  2. No “com” domains are allowed.
  3. All requests for top-level domain names are subject to guidelines established by InterNIC. Currently, requests for “edu” domain names are limited to four-year colleges and universities.
  4. All requests for domain names to be hosted on the USG server will be submitted to ITS Customer Services (http://www.usg.edu/customer_services). Systems Support Services and IWS evaluate requests.


Security is considered of the highest importance in web development. Because web sites are the most visible components of an organization’s network, they can become targets of attack.

It is very important that the development of web content and coding use the following guidelines:

  1. All directories must have an index file (use either index.html or index.phtml) including image directories. Directories that normally do not use index files (e.g., image directories) should use the directory redirect script provided by IWS.
  2. Image files should be placed in an “images” directory, PHP and JavaScript scripts in an “includes” directory, and CSS files in a “css” directory.
  3. HTML files with embedded PHP should use “.phtml” as the file name suffix. Otherwise, use the suffix “.html.”
  4. No world-writeable files or directories are allowed.
  5. All forms should use validation scripts to ensure the proper submission of data.
  6. All user input data must be cleaned according to standard security practice before being passed to the web server or system for use. IWS will review all scripts used for data transfer before they are moved to production server.
  7. All collected data will be stored securely. Information gathered from web applications such as surveys is stored in a restricted access area on the server. IWS will provide the path and storage area for the data file.
  8. Before revising a page on the web server, the page should be first copied from the production server. All pages in production are considered the latest and most accurate version.
  9. All new or revised content should be reviewed on the test server before placing content into production.
  10. Accounts are assigned to individuals to ensure a secure server environment. Your account is intended for your use only. DO NOT ALLOW others to use your account.