Best Practices - Site Administration

Practices - Web Site Administration

  1. Approval
    and Access
  2. Staffing
  3. Training
  4. Job Descriptions
  5. Updating
    Web Pages
  6. Testing
    Web Pages

Approval and Access

Each departmental web site
within the Student Affairs web area has been assigned an owner, usually
the manager of the office or department to which the site is related. 
Changes made to departmental web sites are done by the assigned owner
of those pages, or most often, a staff member designated by the data owner. 
It is up to the manager to authorize their designee to have the appropriate
permissions to transfer files to and from their web site.  The authorization
is done through Academic Technology Support and an NIS account is required. 
The designated individual will use their NIS account ID and password to
access their portion of the campus web server.



Most campus web sites can be
maintained by one staff member.  The level of expertise required
for creating and maintaining web pages depends on the extent of the revisions
and complexity of the pages.  The following list shows examples of
web page maintenance and creation, and the levels of expertise required.

To consider the various skill
levels required in creating and maintaining web pages, we can look at
four different types of web page responsibilities:  Updating Text,
Web Page Design, Web-Based Form Design and Graphics/Images.

A. Periodic Updating of
Text Data on Web Pages

(Examples: The Admission Application
Deadlines Extensions and Final Exam Schedule web pages)

The data on these pages changes
regularly, but only the most basic knowledge of web page editing is required
to make those changes.  The ability to use an HTML editor such as
FrontPage or Dreamweaver, and an understanding of File Transfer Protocol
(FTP), is all that is needed to make these types of text only changes.

Adding new sections of text
may involve adjusting the overall design of the web page; if so, then
those modifications are at the Web Page Design level of expertise.

B. Web Page Design

(Examples: Creating a new web
site, or major design changes to an existing web site.)

The basic skills required above,
i.e., the use of an HTML editor and FTP, are also essential for Web Page
Design.  The sophistication of the tools used in FrontPage needed
for web page design is at a level above what is needed for simple text
editing.  In addition, more elaborate web page elements, such as
pop-out or drop-down menus, require an understanding of HTML and the scripting
language being used, most commonly JavaScript.  There is also a requirement
for the designer to have an artistic sensibility appropriate for the nature
of the web page.  Primary and secondary web page templates provided
by the campus web committee should be followed when redesigning and creating
new web pages.  We expect that divisions and departments outside
of  Student Affairs will also follow the design of the provided templates.

C. Web Based Forms Design

(Examples: Admissions application
request forms; the web based admission letter production system)

To capture and manipulate data
in Web page based forms requires an advanced knowledge of HTML and languages
such as JavaScript and Perl.  In addition to designing and implementing
the forms, a system to use the data captured on the forms must also be
designed and implemented.  To develop the back end for those systems,
expert knowledge of programs like Excel, Word and Access is very useful,
as well as being able to write programs in a scripting language such as
Visual Basic, as well as Visual Basic for Applications.

D. Graphics/Images

(Example: Designing the look
of the web site, updating pages with new images)

The skills required to create
something visually appealing, and the skills required to manipulate digital
images, are distinct, but often combined out of necessity.  Expertise
in a variety of graphics software packages is necessary to utilize those
visual elements in web page design.  Creation of graphic design elements
can be done using drawing software such as Adobe Illustrator.  Digital
images can be captured using a scanner or a digital camera.  Manipulation
of those images can be done in a graphics packages such as Adobe PhotoShop. 
All graphics and images intended for use on the web need to be run through
a program that can optimize the files, such as Adobe ImageReady.

Another use of graphics on
the web occurs when forms are placed on web pages for users to download
and print, such as our Fee Analysis form and our International Student
Admissions Application.  Creating those .pdf files requires the use
of Adobe Acrobat.

Judicious management of staffing
resources dictates that those duties which require the more advanced skill
sets be centralized.  For example, the Division of Student Affairs
may need to employ one graphic artist and one programmer for all the divisions
web page needs, while each department may need to have a web manager to
implement updates and minor revisions.



Various levels of expertise
already exist in the division's different areas and departments among
those designated as web managers.  The more experienced web page
authors within the Student Affairs Web and Technology committee may be
called on to assist those who need basic training in HTML editing and
FTP.  Academic Technology Services (ATS) also provides on-line training
as well as tutorials in their training labs.

For the more complex areas
of web development and maintenance, positions should be filled by experienced
individuals who already have those skills.


Job Descriptions

job descriptions for the different staff responsible for web design and
maintenance would vary based on the different sets of skills required
as outline above.  As an institution, CSLA should have a coordinated
and comprehensive baseline IT training and development plan to promote
career development and retention of staff as well as ongoing staff learning
and improvement which are essential to the currency and effectiveness
of the campus IT environment.


Updating Web Pages

It is a good practice to update
primary web pages frequently.  There are two types of updates to
consider, design and content.  Frequent web page revisions increases
user interest and well as continually improving usability.  Major
design revisions should be done annually or semi-annually.  More
frequent revision of the look of a web page can be accomplished by changing
design elements such as images.

Revision of content may involve
routine re-wording of introductory paragraphs or other text elements on
a page.  A more frequent updating of web page content occurs when
information is timely, such as the final exam schedule, graduation application
filing periods and admissions deadline extensions.  These updates
occur as the published information becomes out of date, or new information
needs to be published.  The following table shows a proposed schedule
for different types of web page up-dates.

Major Redesign


Updating Content


Updating Look


Updating Dated Content

As Needed


Testing Web Pages

There are four basic tests
to check web page design, and fortunately there are readily available
tools to accomplish these tests.  The four things that should be
looked at when doing quality control on web pages are: 1) Browser and
platform compatibility, 2.) Good HTML functionality and valid links, 3.)
Download speed, and 4.) Accessibility. 

Testing of web pages for these
performance factors should be done before the pages are implemented, then
regularly while the pages are on-line.  Testing of pages should be
done at least once every two months.  The most likely sources of
errors in these periodic reviews are links that have become outdated.

There are many tools for testing
web sites.  One site useful for looking at the first three criteria
above is Dr. Watson at
The site recommended for testing web page accessibility is Bobby at


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