NIU Web Standards

The current Web Standards were approved by the Web Steering Committee on March 4, 2020.

The standards will be reviewed and updated annually by the committee. Please check back for announcements and updates that are released between the annual reviews of this document.

Notable changes since last revision

Introduction and Purpose

1.1 Providing the Best Content Possible Updated

NIU's website is the face of NIU, often the first impression visitors have of the university, and we want their experience to be a positive one. To help provide a positive user-experience, we have created the following standards and best practice guidelines to ensure a consistent and unified user experience for our visitors. They are intended to assist any member of the NIU community involved with creating, updating or reviewing an NIU website.

The standards were collaboratively written by members of the NIU Web Team, approved by the Web Steering Committee and president of the university, and grounded in thorough research of industry standards and best practices for usability and lawful accessibility compliance. The standards are subject to change as laws and university policies evolve.

Our guiding principles for web governance of the niu.edu domain are:

  • All pages should be audience-centered (student first) and consistently use the NIU brand.
  • All pages should have a content strategy, featuring an intuitive navigation and relevant (audience focused) and current content that is optimized for search engines.

1.2 Content Ownership, User Access Rights and Responsibilities Updated

All subdomains and sub-sites within the niu.edu domain belong to, and are representative of, the university. Colleges and divisions serve as caretakers of their websites, experts in their content and stewards of NIU's brand.

The university's central Office of Web and Internal Communications (Web Team) has access to all areas of the niu.edu 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.

In collaboration with the department, college or division, the Web Team will determine a maintenance and support plan for each site on the niu.edu domain. Based on the number and type of updates per week, the plan will include identifying a coordinator, contributor or manager user role to maintain the site:

  • Most users are coordinators and use the web update request form to get updates made. This role is sufficient if you make infrequent web updates, don't have enough time to keep current with Web Standards and Communication Standards for Institutional Brand Identity, or part of a team with multiple people making web updates. Temporary employees, graduate assistants and student workers would be classified as coordinators.
  • Contributors make content updates in Cascade and submit them for review and publishing by the Web Team. This role is ideal if you make at least one update per week and IT/web maintenance is a significant part of your job description.
  • Managers will be identified by the web team in collaboration with college or division leadership.

The Web Team will invite coordinators, contributors and managers to take annual training to stay current on web standards and best practices.

If it is determined that a user is making updates to their site that do not align with web standards, the associate director of Web and Internal Communications, web manager and/or college communicator will meet with them to review the standards. Continued updates that do not align with web standards may result in additional training requirements or suspension of access to the CMS.

1.3 Governance and Collaboration

Web governance is defined as a system for managing an online presence in an orderly way.

At NIU, web governance is facilitated through the Web Steering Committee. The committee's objective is to provide collaborative centralized governance for the ongoing development, deployment, delivery and maintenance of the niu.edu domain and to consistently represent the Northern Illinois University brand online through standard processes, roles, responsibilities and practices.

Primary support for niu.edu and associated sites is led by the Office of Web and Internal Communications (Web Team) in the Division of Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications. The senior director for Web and Internal Communications provides oversight and strategic direction for the university's web presence. The director of web strategy and services reviews requests from academic and administrative stakeholders, sets priorities and apprises the Web Steering Committee of projects and plans.

The Web Team also provides training for page managers, support for all niu.edu web pages, maintains the Web Standards document and provides administrative support for the Web Steering Committee.

1.4 Support

We support niu.edu web pages for compatibility with the current version and previous major release of the following browsers:

  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Internet Explorer
  • Edge

Older browser versions may work, but not all web applications may be compatible. For this reason, we recommend that users update to the most recent version of their preferred browser. We also recommend that any web applications utilized meet the same criteria as stated above.

To request an update to a website, visit go.niu.edu/webupdate.

To request a new website, contact our office at webcommunications@niu.edu.

Contact Us

For more information about web support and development, contact: 

Holly Nicholson
Still Hall 110
815-753-6692
hnicholson@niu.edu

View the PDF version of the Web Standards