Web Governance Policy

PNW Website Strategic Vision

Purdue University Northwest’s website is the public face of the university. For many, it is the very first time they encounter us. Because of that, it is important that our web presence engage the audiences we serve and reflect their needs.

A website visitor should experience the same considerate welcome and sense of inclusivity as a visitor to our campuses. He or she should expect to have issues resolved quickly, to have questions answered thoroughly and to leave our site satisfied, thinking well of Purdue Northwest and eager to return and continue engagement.

A unified site with consistent, on-brand messaging and a frictionless user experience strengthens the university and supports our constituents. PNW’s web presence needs to be visually appealing, consistent, clear, simple, easy to navigate, forgiving of visitors’ missteps and provide each visitor with a positive experience.

It is accessible, since a site that cannot be used by some visitors cannot be said to be usable. Above all, the website should reflect and advance Purdue Northwest’s primary business and strategic goals.

Policy Overview

The website pnw.edu, is the sole property of Purdue University Northwest. 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 sub-sites remain the property of Purdue Northwest.

The primary target audience for PNW’s website is prospective students. In particular, the homepage and most visible navigation are intended to share with potential students what makes PNW unique, encouraging them to enroll.

Pages deeper in the site might serve different audiences. For every page, it’s essential to consider: who is the primary audience for this page? What action do I want my audience to take here?

All Purdue Northwest web initiatives are guided by these three principles:

  • Our visitors come first
    • All of our work, from content to design to allocation of resources is created with the needs of our audiences in mind
  • We are consistent with our brand
    • The Purdue Northwest brand is our reputation and should be reflected in our website’s structure, language, visuals and calls to action
  • Our site is always improving
    • A website is not a finished product. We are committed to continuous improvement, using data-based analysis and experimentation to better meet user—and university—goals.
  • To leverage the website as an effective, appealing marketing platform that reflects the PNW brand and encourages prospective students to apply to the university.
  • To establish ownership, workflows and resources that facilitate a compelling, user-oriented and goal-driven web presence.
  • Provide collaborative, centralized governance for the online development, deployment, delivery and maintenance of Purdue Northwest’s web presence, ensuring proper training and an appropriate focus on privacy, accessibility and other core site requirements.
  • Develop a user-centric web structure based on visitor needs as opposed to university department and office organization, incorporating user-friendly, ADA-compliant content, information architecture and navigation
    • Sites based on function and need, providing the end user with a one-stop shop for a given topic by organizing content from several resources or departments
    • Improved user experience and functionality with the use of quickly readable, mobile-friendly content written for the web, avoiding institutional jargon
    • Organize content to display the strongest qualities of the school and best serve the needs of the primary audience, including a mobile-optimized design and robust, forward-looking video/multimedia features.
  • Enhance the reputation of Purdue Northwest and illustrate the brand objectives
  • Cohesive and appealing visual design incorporating consistency in structure, navigation and content
  • Outline roles for website governance, oversight and contributors, detailing web workflows, training and compliance
  • Build a system of continuous improvement organized around measurable website goals, analytics, experimentation, and a firm understanding of website advancements and best practices.

The public face of the website will fall under the management and supervision of Marketing & Communications to maintain a cohesive user-centered design focus as well as a consistent look or feel. Marketing & Communications will be involved in and have decision-making authority over the function, presentation and accessibility/compliance for all branded sites as well as integrated web features and services.

PNW’s approved content management system and its brand architecture will be used to develop all pages in the PNW framework. No software products, plug-ins, services, embedded scripts or content will be deployed on the PNW website without the consultation, approval and oversight of Marketing & Communications.

Official Purdue University Northwest resources, programs and services must be hosted in the pnw.edu framework or via approved, linked vendors. As part of the academic process, faculty or students may seek to create and host content outside the pnw.edu framework, on independent “third-party” sites. Individuals or groups looking to establish a third-party site must consult with PNW Marketing and Communications to discuss trademark and branding implications as well as deprecation planning. The Marketing and Communications team is only able to support pages within the pnw.edu framework.

To ensure site security, accessibility and a positive brand experience, all external links are subject to the approval of Marketing & Communications and can be removed at any time without notice.

Oversight, Strategy & Planning Hierarchy

Web Governance Board

Composed of:

  • Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement
  • Vice Chancellor for Information Services
  • Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Marketing & Communications


  • Broad oversight for the strategic direction of pnw.edu
  • Final arbitrator for decisions regarding website governance and standards. Decision by consensus, with the Chancellor as mediator

Marketing & Communications Team

Primary strategic direction and support for pnw.edu and associated sites and assets is led by Marketing & Communications, working closely with Information Services and the web server administrators, who are available for consultation.

The Director of Web Services provides oversight and strategic direction, reviews requests from academic and administrative stakeholders and sets priorities, and informs the Governance Board of strategic-level projects and plans.

Additional responsibilities of the team include:

  • Setting website direction and policies based on best practices and the needs of web visitors
  • Ensure site quality and content integrity as well as compliance with all legal and regulatory standards, including accessibility, security and protection of personal information
  • Providing training and support to editors for use of the content-management system, website best practices and ADA compliance/accessibility
  • Maintaining the software in an up-to-date manner as well as up-to-date component guide, sample pages and web content style guide
  • Research, evaluate and share best practices, industry trends and web analytics reporting, including high-level trends, insights and goals
  • Primary support for pnw.edu and associated sites and assets. This includes:
    • Updating site structure and navigation, including the creation of new pages. To promote a streamlined site map and a positive user experience, creating new pages will be an exclusive responsibility of the PNW web team.
    • Evaluating and executing requests to develop new features and templates, including changes to taxonomy, structure, branding, look and feel, navigation, styling, etc.

The university’s office of Marketing & Communications has access to all areas of the Purdue Northwest web site and, to ensure quality control, will edit/alter content as needed to promote effective web communications. Changes can be made for clarity, grammar, spelling, usage, website best practices, accessibility compliance and style, as well as to conform to university naming conventions and branding.

The university reserves the right to revise or delete content housed either on university IT resources or external resources if it is found that the content does not meet acceptable use guidelines or the standards outlined in this policy.

Web Advisory Committee

Composed of key institutional stakeholders, this advisory committee provides an avenue for university stakeholders to offer input on website strategy, sharing suggestions/concerns, proposing new features and offering feedback on prioritization.

Committee constituents

  • VC Institutional Advancement – ex-officio member/co-sponsor
  • VC Information Services – ex-officio member/co-sponsor
  • Director of Web Services (Chair)
  • Associate Vice Chancellor of Marketing & Communications
  • Director of Creative and Digital Media
  • Marketing & Communications (all staff who have responsibility for the website)
  • Undergraduate Admissions (1 member)
  • Graduate Admissions (1 member)
  • Student Affairs/Campus Life (1 member)
  • Information Services (1 member)
  • Academic Affairs/Provost (3 members)
  • Retention and Academic Success (1 member)
  • Office of the Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administration (1 member)
  • Faculty Senate (1 member)
  • MaPSAC (1 member)
  • CSSAC (1 member)




  • Create transparency and collaboration with regard to digital initiatives
  • Meets once per semester
  • Responsible for proposing ideas, requests, problems and concerns to Marketing & Communications throughout the year, including
    • Recommending directions and subject areas for training and support
    • Proposing global changes to taxonomy, structure, branding, look and feel, navigation, styling, etc.
    • Exploring effectiveness, content, standards and policies for technology and editorial components

Information Services

Information Services acts as caretaker for the web-server operations of the CMS, providing server setup, maintenance and troubleshooting. Responsible for the installation of the core CMS software and databases, they also identify and implement server-optimization opportunities and are charged with server-level security. Information Services sets up, manages, and maintains testing, development and production server environments

Information Services shall

  • Administer and maintain the web infrastructure, including the web and database servers
  • Install, maintain and upgrade additional web and database servers as needed
  • Maintain and upgrade any necessary web server software (i.e. Apache, MySQL, PHP)
  • Install, maintain and upgrade web applications software such as the portal, our course management system (currently Brightspace) and the web interface to Banner
  • Collaborate with Marketing & Communications and the ADA Compliance Officer to review and implement any scripts and related executables that are requested, to determine if those scripts present any security or accessibility risks.

Deans, Directors, & Vice Chancellors

Responsible for:

  1. Guiding the overall strategic direction of their departments’ positioning and messaging
  2. Identifying a primary and secondary editor for their department.
  3. Creating original marketing and supporting content and/or collaborating with the primary editor or a designated content creator to do so.
  4. Requesting permission changes for editors (both granting and terminating access)
  5. Ensuring editors complete and remain up to date with Approved CMS/ADA web compliance training. See the Non-Compliance section for additional information.


Primary Editor

Primary editors are responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of their assigned websites. Their responsibilities are:

  1. Ensuring all content, including text, photo, videos and PDFs, whether posted themselves or with the assistance of other editors, is in accordance with the governance guidelines and ADA compliance/web accessibility.
  2. Editing/updating copy on existing pages and posting news and events updates at the direction of, or in collaboration with, the department chair.
  3. Completing and remaining up to date on Approved CMS/ADA web compliance training. See the Non-Compliance section for additional information.
  4. Conducting regular (minimum every six months) reviews of site content to remove/refresh outdated content. This includes updating promotional material, recapping events after they occur and ensuring all links connect to “live” pages. See Appendixes A and B for the detailed review process.
  5. Sharing ideas, requests, problems and concerns with Marketing & Communications throughout the year
  6. Suggesting global changes to taxonomy, structure, branding, look and feel, navigation, styling, etc. to Marketing & Communications as needed

You can see a workflow for the web-edit process in Appendix C.

Each site must have a year-round staff member (full time) identified and trained as the primary editor and may add secondary editors who also must be trained. Student workers, whether undergraduate or graduate, may support the primary editor after they have completed approved CMS/ADA web compliance training offered by Marketing & Communications. Students may make regular, day-to-day content changes under the supervision of the primary editor.

Due to the brand responsibilities and training associated with using the CMS properly, each non-academic site should have just one primary and one secondary web editor. Academic units can add a third “support” editor.

PNW’s homepage is a branded resource organized around the needs of prospective students. The homepage elements and their placement have been carefully designed to appeal to this core audience. They will not be altered to feature topical content, including events, news or announcements. Topical updates will only be featured via the events, news and social-media components designed explicitly for this purpose.

News, Events and Displays of Social Content

The homepage’s designated news, events and social media sections will prioritize content that appeals to prospective students and embody the PNW brand. Marketing & Communications is the designated authority for choosing news, event and embedded social media features on the homepage and throughout the site.

For most PNW staff members, a basic listing with the individual’s photo, name, title and contact information is sufficient for building connections across the university.

For faculty and key staff members in key public-facing roles, though, a more comprehensive biography reinforces the university brand, supporting engagement from prospective students, professional peers or members of the media.

Expanded bios are recommended for:

  • Faculty
  • Senior Leadership Team Members
  • Admissions Counselors
  • Advisors
  • Division/Department Heads with a Prominent Public-Facing Role

The Purdue University Northwest website was designed to have a consistent and shared top navigation, call-to-action bar and footer. These elements were deliberately designed to advance the website’s top goal of recruiting prospective students. They also provide a consistent user experience for website visitors, regardless of where they land on the site, while reinforcing the PNW brand.

The web team has the capacity to provide “subsites” with their own custom navigation, call-to-action bar and footer. However, for the reasons outlined above, custom elements should only be deployed in limited circumstances, following the guidelines below.

  • PNW academic and core business units should always maintain the core elements.
  • Specialty units—e.g., research centers—affiliated with academic programs or that help recruit prospective students should maintain the core elements as well.
  • Specialty units can submit a written appeal for custom elements in their header, call-to-action bar and footer if they:
    • Do not serve an audience of PNW prospective students and
    • Have a location distinct from either of the primary PNW campuses and
    • Received more than 10,000 unique pageviews over the past calendar year

The written appeal will outline why custom elements are necessary to meet business goals, with specific examples of current website goals and how they will be impacted by the change. This appeal will be reviewed according to the Web Request Workflow outlined in Appendix C of PNW’s Website Governance Policy.

Procedures & Compliance

All content on the PNW website must adhere to Purdue Northwest web and editorial guidelines. The Marketing & Communications Team has full access to all areas of all areas of the PNW website and has broad authority to oversee, edit and remove content that does not comply with these policies.

Approved CMS training must be completed before anyone is granted access to a Purdue Northwest website. It is the editor’s responsibility to remain up to date on changes to the Approved CMS workflow process and to complete additional training as needed.

Marketing & Communications is responsible for leading the initial training along with providing various support documents and training resources. It is the trainee’s responsibility to absorb the material, to practice what they learn and to use the training and style documents that are provided as well as the other resources.

Each year, Marketing & Communications will communicate the minimum training that existing editors will be expected to complete during that year. This will depend on the design and requirements of their specific site. Additional training may be required, depending on site/Approved CMS/institutional developments, changes and/or needs, and will be communicated as soon as possible.

Everyone with access to the pnw.edu domain, subdomains, third party web applications, and any sites that are part of university business, as defined in the Purdue Electronic Information, Communication and Technology Accessibility (S-5) Standard, must be familiar with and must follow the Standard to ensure compliance with the ADA and other accessibility regulations.

Photography and Alt Text

As a public university, and in keeping with Purdue University’s system-wide policy, we are committed to ensuring our site is accessible to all users. When adding photos, you need to include “alternate” or “alt” text so that those who are non-visual visitors and using text browsers can know the information your picture conveys.

The guidelines: imagine reading the article aloud to someone over the phone. What would you say to the listener about the image? What information would be lost if the image were not available? Shorter is better. Anticipate 5 to 15 words, or about 140 characters.

Video Captioning/Audio Description

All videos posted on the Purdue Northwest web site must be captioned and ADA compliant. This applies to videos previously produced and videos independently produced. Various software tools and services are available for captioning. Any costs incurred will be the responsibility of the office/department/center in charge of the video. Any video that is not captioned will be removed from the site.

PNW Website Document Accessibility Requirements

PNW is committed to providing equal access to educational programs, services, activities and events. Content producers must adhere to the accessibility guidelines for electronic information, communication and technology.

See PNW’s Guidelines for Promoting Accessibility

Review Purdue’s S-5 Standard for Electronic Information, Communication and Technology Accessibility

PNW’s accessibility guide also has helpful resources for making documents accessible. If the document in question requires accessibility remediation, you, as the content producer may make it accessible or contract one of our preferred vendors.

Content producers can also submit to the campus Equal Opportunity Compliance Officer (Laura Odom, odoml@pnw.edu) a written request for an exception in the event it is not technically possible or may require extraordinary measures to make specific Electronic Information, Communication and Technology Accessible.


PDFs on the website must be accessible documents; non-accessible PDFs will be removed. Marketing & Communications department has final authority regarding appropriate document formats.

See Full PDF Guidelines

The Purdue Northwest website, in keeping with best practices for writing for the web, embraces a conversational writing style.

Web visitors are task oriented. They skim and scan getting just enough information to get to their next destination. Long blocks of text are not easy to absorb online; subheads, bulleted and numbered lists, and images are effective tools for organizing website content.

Web editors and other digital communicators can enhance their web writing skills by reviewing our “Writing for the Web” digital training session. To convey a clear and consistent message, it is crucial that all parts of the site use the university’s official visual identifiers (logos) and the university naming conventions and style outlined in the style guide. PNW.edu follows the AP Stylebook.

Official Purdue Northwest branding is the only visual identity system you may adopt for your website. You cannot alter the existing Purdue Northwest logos and branding, and in no cases may you create your own. No exceptions. The university has the full legal right and obligation to protect its materials, and certain non-authorized uses may violate the computing and networking policy, various faculty, staff and student handbooks and the University Brand Guidelines.

Colleges, departments and centers should contact Marketing & Communications prior to developing and launching mobile applications to ensure the applications follow user-centered design, Purdue Northwest branding standards and best practices for ADA compliance/accessibility.

The university uses Google Analytics to measure activity on the Purdue Northwest website, including pageviews, goal completions, link clicks and audience characteristics.

The Marketing & Communications office provides monthly dashboards to each web editor/unit outlining top-level statistics and trends for each PNW site. These reports are intended to spark ongoing analysis by web editors and can be supplemented with additional reports and consulting from the web team.

PNW has a centralized web analytics framework. Units adding their own Google Analytics code may result in inaccurate data collection, processing or reporting. Marketing & Communications reserves the right to review, alter and approve any analytics requests, integrations and frameworks.


Photography that meets a high professional standard plays a crucial role in creating a positive image of Purdue Northwest. Images used on the website should align with PNW brand standards and inspire prospective students to connect with the university.

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. It is important to show a range of genders, ethnic backgrounds, races, ages, etc.

Marketing & Communications has authority to ensure that images, photos and graphics comply with Purdue Northwest brand standards, are of the best quality and represent the professional image of the university.

Branding Photos

Marketing & Communications, working with web editors for individual units of the university will select college, department and center branding photos—the photos featured on the landing pages and promotional pages for these units. The same applies for photos representing PNW programs. All of these pictures 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, please submit a web-edit request. All branding photo change requests will be reviewed and approved in accordance with the Marketing and Communications brand standards and photography guidelines.

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 50 KB to allow for quicker page load times.

Faculty/Staff Photos

High-quality photography is essential for supporting the PNW brand and reinforcing our expertise and professionalism. Faculty and staff members with an up-to-date university-produced “head shot” are encouraged to use this photo to promote high standards and a consistent brand experience for website users.

If a university-produced “head shot” isn’t available, please follow these guidelines to promote professional, appealing photography:

  • The final display dimensions will be 235 x 235 pixels, cropped to a circle.
  • Source photos should be provided in the highest-resolution format available.
  • The photos should feature the subject alone and facing the camera. The subject should be posed in front of a uniform background, with their features visible in moderate, consistent lighting.
  • Please do not submit “selfies,” vacation photos or pictures cropped from a group photo.

Following these similar guidelines will promote strong photography across PNW’s website and digital channels. Consistent lighting, mindful framing and a muted background go a long way toward producing usable photography.


Videos are an important component of telling the Purdue Northwest story.  Like other materials that tell our stories—brochures, handbooks, websites and social media—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 Purdue Northwest site, contact Marketing & Communications.

To embed a video to your existing website, please use the web request form. Videos will be considered if they meet PNW accessibility and brand standards. Marketing & Communications does not support the direct streaming of videos except for certain institutional events (i.e., commencement).

Social Media

Social media is an effective way to engage with your audiences. Where applicable on certain pages, departments and organizations may link to their university-specific social media channels.

The homepage of the website offers the only embedded social feed, linking to the university’s general channel managed by Marketing and Communications. Additional embedded social media feeds throughout the site are not supported. The preference is to use dedicated website tools (e.g. photos, events and feature sections) to showcase pertinent and timely information.

All social media platforms referenced on the website must adhere to the university social media policy. Non-compliant social channels will be removed entirely or replaced with references to the general university channels.


As a best practice, content on the PNW website should be created as website content: this approach is most likely to support a good user experience as well as meet our accessibility requirements.

There are some instances where it’s more suitable to upload a PDF to the website instead of recreating content as website content. They include:

  • Documents with layout elements that cannot be created using web templates (footnotes/sidenotes/endnotes)
  • Custom forms with complex interactive fields that can’t be created with existing or approved PNW services
  • Scans of historical documents
  • Documents custom-designed for print publication
  • Documents in need of annotation and collaboration through a PDF reader
  • Mathematical documents
  • Legally restricted formats (such as U.S. tax forms)
  • Documents with multiple columns, figures, or illustrations
  • Documents longer than 20 pages

PDFs on the website must be accessible documents; non-accessible PDFs will be removed. Marketing & Communications department has final authority regarding appropriate document formats.

Web Help Requests

Requests for general assistance for your site must be submitted through the web request form. Please allow one to two business days for a response, and at least five business days for turnaround. Any requests submitted directly to a member of the Marketing & Communications team will be directed to the web request form.

A workflow for the web request process in Appendix C. Please note that if a page update is appealed, the original or Marketing & Communications-approved page will be featured during the appeal process.

Emergency Requests

In the case of a web emergency (e.g., the site is down or a prominent page on the site is producing a 404 error), please send an email to webteam@pnw.edu.

For all other urgent requests, please submit a support ticket through the web request form. Requests due to operational issues such as lack of approved CMS training, failure to plan for employee turnover or lack of a backup primary editor/content contributor do not constitute an emergency and will be processed accordingly.

Major Projects and Initiatives

Major projects, such as site redesigns, significant content changes and new site launches must be completed in partnership with Marketing & Communications. Your request will be reviewed by the Marketing & Communications leadership team according to department and strategic priorities. To initiate major projects, please submit the web request form.

A note on outsourced work: Even though some departments may be able to make financial investments for web work on their behalf, all requests for proposals for website work must be approved by the director of web services. If there is a dispute, the matter can be elevated to the Web Governance Board.

To comply with official accreditation rules and regulations, all official course listings should be pulled directly from Banner through a feed maintained by the Registrar’s Office and accessed by Marketing & Communications. Generally, these course listings are found in the University Catalog. If a site is found to have descriptions that do not come from Banner, Marketing & Communications will contact and work with the content owner to ensure that all accreditation rules and regulations are being met.

Similarly, all academic programs—majors, graduate programs, minors and certificates—will reflect the official listing in the PNW catalog.

Copyright violation is a serious offense that comes with strict penalties for which the university itself could be held liable. It is the responsibility of the primary web editor to ensure that all of your content, including text, images, video and music, complies with all copyright laws. Any content on the Purdue Northwest website that infringes on copyright will immediately be removed by Marketing & Communications, and the content owner will be notified.

Please also note that Purdue Northwest is obliged and empowered by law to actively monitor the use of its own copyrighted materials and to protect them as necessary from unauthorized use, even by members of the Purdue Northwest community. Unauthorized use of the Purdue Northwest logo, for example, on student or departmental projects, even for humorous purposes, may constitute a copyright or trademark violation (as well as a violation of other policies), particularly if such materials are made publicly available.

Please obtain prior authorization for all uses of the Purdue Northwest logo and other copyrighted materials in your online media. Unauthorized and/or inappropriate use of copyrighted Purdue Northwest materials may result in sanctions, including the removal of web pages and disciplinary action against individuals and organizations by their authorized governing bodies.

Primary editors of department/divisions/offices that violate these guidelines, including security and ADA compliance violations, will receive email notification from the Marketing & Communications team with five business days to address violations.

If no attempt is made to address violations within five business days, the Dean or Director of the department/division will be contacted and will have five business days to address violations.

If three or more violations occur within a six- month period, the department’s Dean or Director will be contacted by the Associate Vice Chancellor of Marketing & Communications, who will develop a corrective plan of action. Continued and egregious violations will incur significant penalties, up to removal of a site or other digital property from the pnw.edu domain.

In the case of a security violation, the editor who shared a password will have access revoked and the person who used the password will not be granted access.

If editors attempt to publish content that is subject to the appeal process, this will be considered a non-compliance violation.

In the case of an ADA compliance/web accessibility violation, because the standard is tied to the University’s Non-Discrimination Policy, Marketing & Communications will work with the Office of Equity & Diversity to determine whether an investigation is warranted. If so, the Office of Equity & Diversity will initiate that investigation.

Marketing & Communications will make every effort to work with primary editors to address violations and assist in any necessary website updates.

Marketing & Communications reserves the right to update the governance policy and will notify editors of relevant changes that affect them.

Appendix A: Web Editor Monthly Review Workflow

Web Editor Six-Month Review

Web Request Workflow

As Revised (Oct. 6, 2022)
Reviewed by Senior Leadership