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UMSL Website Audit and Standards

Putting our best (digital) foot forward

To ensure the ongoing quality and usability of the UMSL website, University Marketing and Communications conducts a rolling, year-round, quality control audit of unit websites that are housed (1) within the domain and (2) within the university's content management system: Cascade CMS by Hannon Hill. Audits are conducted by the department's Web and Electronic Communications staff and follow the web standards outlined below.


Why does MarCom conduct an audit of unit websites?

While this process is necessarily referred to as an audit, it’s really more about providing a “helping hand” in a number of technical areas to ensure that all UMSL website visitors have a rich and fully functional experience and follow consistent web standards. Collectively, the domain includes nearly 300 individual websites managed by more than 500 site managers. While all site managers receive initial training in the CMS, most all are fulltime staff or faculty whose primary responsibilities are not the web and who may not have the complete technical expertise to support the areas covered by this audit.


What does the audit cover?

Each site audit includes a review of the sites’ technical aspects including programming code, metadata, content formatting, browser testing, the size, quality and diversity of images, mobile accessibility, broken links, Section 508 Compliance, and, of course, ensuring that content is reasonably up-to-date and follows UMSL’s web policies and brand standards. Specifically, sites will be reviewed in the following areas:

  • URL structure should be readable, succinct and intuitively communicate the content/subject matter of the page
    • Limit URLS to keywords, phrases using alphanumeric characters and placing a hyphen between words when necessary
    • Limit the use of stop words (and, or, but, of, that, a, etc.)
    • URL should not contain blank or empty spaces, underscores, or other special characters ( ~ $ < > # % { } [ ] | \ & + , . / : ; = ? @ )
  • Heading tags should be used to define page structure
    • Only one <h1> tag may be used per page
    • Use proper nesting of headings
    • Do not use text formatting (such as font size or bold) to give the visual appearance of headings, nor use headers to achieve visual results only.
  • Use list tags to convey hierarchical content
    • Use an unordered list <ul> when there is no order of sequence or important
    • Use an ordered list <ol> when suggesting a progression or sequence
    • Use a definition list <dl> only when presenting a structure for definitions
  • Correct classes should be used to style page content
  • Assets including images, pdfs, and external links should be organized within the files/ folder structure
  • Page structures defined by CMS master templates (header, footer, bread crumbs, etc.) may not be manipulated
  • Page footers must include unit contact information
  • Page should include relevant metadata
    • Page title (no more than 65 characters in length)
    • Page description (between 150 and 170 characters in length)
    • Keywords (separate with commas)

h1. UMSL heading

h2. UMSL heading

h3. UMSL heading

h4. UMSL heading

h5. UMSL heading
h6. UMSL heading
  • All links must be active and properly functioning 
  • Links directing to pages within the same site should be linked using the “Internal” insert option
  • Links directing to pages outside the site should be linked using the “External” insert option
    • You can copy and paste in a URL such as However: when linking to pages on the domain, make sure the URL is in an https format, so the would read:
  • Link "Targets" should be set as:
    • Same Window: use when a link directs to a page housed within the domain
    • New Window: This opens a new tab for each link and is not user friendly. If you feel you must use it, only do so when linking to pages that are not housed within the domain
  • Linked text should be two to three words long using descriptive words that indicate where the link directs to (avoid "click here" links and listing full URLs)
  • Use the same text for links that direct users to the same place
  • Links should include the “Title” tag when additional information is needed to describe the purpose of the link
  • When linking to file downloads, such as a PDF, include the file extension and size with the linked text
Hand holding an iphone displaying campus map application
  • Individual images should not be larger than 250 kilobytes in size with an image resolution of at least 72 pixels per inch.
  • To assist users with visual impairments, images should include “Alternate Text” tags to provide a description and purpose of the image
    • Use a description of 140 characters or less as screen readers will not read longer
    • Decorative images that are nonessential to the page content should use blank alternate text tags
  • If complex images that include substantial text must be used, complimentary text that provides the image information should be included in the page content
  • Images should use appropriate padding
  • Always strive for a diversity of images and inclusive subject matter
  • Image content should be professional and appropriately represent the university
  • Avoid flashing media/images for those with photosensitive epilepsy
  • Ensure images are responsive
  • Follow university Digital Asset Management guidelines
UMSL Campus Beauty Spot (01:00)

  • List topic and length of video in text above an embedded video if the player does not automatically provide this
  • Videos should include accurate captioning or full transcripts
  • Embedded videos should be linked using https://
  • Do not set videos to auto play
  • Avoid flashing media/images for those with photosensitive epilepsy
  • Ensure videos are responsive
  • Follow university Digital Asset Management guidelines
  • Tables should include a descriptive header title or caption
  • Include summary a summary description in HTML
  • All tables should be responsive using the appropriate table class or use of percentages for proportional sizing
  • Avoid defining cell height as it can cut off text when zooming.
  • Unless necessary to convey information accurately, tables should not be used to style page content or provide page layout options
  • Use the simplest table configuration possible
Responsive Table Example:

Header Row, Column 1 Header Row, Column 2 Header Row, Column 3
Row 1, Column 1 Row 1, Column 2 Row 1, Column 3
Row 2, Column 1 Row 2, Column 2 Row 2, Column 3
Row 3, Column 1 Row 3, Column 2 Row 3, Column 3
  • Colors should not be used to convey important information that may be indistinguishable for those with visual impairments

  • Page content should be accurate and up-to-date, free of spelling errors

  • Content should follow UMSL's grammar, usage and style guidelines

Digital Asset Management refers to the hosting, management, organization, cataloguing, archiving and distribution of digital assets - rich media such as photographs, videos, audio files, graphics, logos, and marketing collateral. A digital asset is any form of content or media that has been formatted into a binary source and includes the right to use it (See DMCA policy). 

Digital assets owned by the university must be managed appropriately. The university maintains several repositories of digital assets including repositories that are stored in local (network attached) file storage systems, cloud file storage systems (Google and Box), and within commercially available systems (PhotoShelter). Contact UMSL Information Technology Services to determine the appropriate university repository for your needs.

Specific to the university's web environment, most all digital assets should be uploaded to the university's server(s) via the Content Management Systems (Cascade, WordPress). However, some assets such as video, may be hosted on a third-party platform such as YouTube or Vimeo, provided that the asset is hosted through an official, university-owned and managed account with multiple admins, and not associated with an individual or non-university account.


When are sites evaluated?

Sites are reviewed on a rolling, year-round, basis. Below is a schedule outlining the month each site will be reviewed. Please note that review dates are subject to change.

  • About Us
  • Academic Advising
  • Academic Affairs
  • Academic Services
  • Accelerate
  • Accounting Department
  • Accreditation, Assessment, and Planning
  • Administrative Systems
  • Advanced Credit Program
  • Advancement
  • Alumni Records and Development Systems
  • Anthropology and Archaeology
  • Art and Art History
  • Bachelor of Liberal Studies Online
  • Biochemistry and Biotechnology
  • Biology
  • bITS
  • BJC Summer Nurse Externship
  • Budget Services
  • Business Online
  • Business Services
  • Campus Calendar
  • Campus Map
  • Campus Mediation
  • Campus Testing Center
  • Career Services
  • Cashiers
  • Center for Business and Industrial Studies
  • Center for Character and Citizenship
  • Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Education
  • Center for Ethics in Public Life
  • Center for Excellence in Financial Counseling
  • Center for Nanoscience
  • Center for Neurodynamics
  • Center for Student Success
  • Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Center for the Humanities
  • Center for Transportation Studies
  • Center for Trauma Recovery
  • Chancellors Cultural Diversity Council
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Child Development Center
  • Childrens Advocacy Center
  • CMS Users
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Business Administration
  • College of Education
  • College of Education CoachED
  • College of Education Departments
  • College of Education Fiscal Office
  • College of Nursing
  • College of Optometry
  • Commencement
  • Communication and Media
  • Community Based Research in Sociology
  • Community Psychological Service
  • Conference Services
  • Connecting Human Origin and Cultural Diversity Program
  • Counseling Services
  • Creating Whole Communities
  • Creative Services
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Cybersecurity
  • DARS - Degree Audit Reporting System
  • Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and Languages
  • Department of Media Studies
  • Department of Military and Veteran Studies
  • Department of Music
  • Department of Sociology, Gerontology and Gender
  • Des Lee Collaborative Vision
  • Development
  • Disability Access Services
  • Division of Student Affairs
  • Doctor of Business Administration
  • Dual Enrollment Program
  • Economics
  • ED Collabitat
  • Email
  • English
  • Environmental Health and Safety
  • Event Services
  • Executive Leadership Consortium
  • Experience
  • Facilities Management
  • Faculty Resource Center
  • Faculty Senate and University Assembly
  • Finance and Administration
  • Finance and Legal Studies Department
  • FormServlet Instructions
  • Gallery 210
  • Gallery Visio
  • Gateway for Online and Adult Learners
  • Gateway Writing Project
  • Gender Studies
  • German Culture Center
  • Gerontology Program
  • Give to UMSL
  • Global Leadership and Management Department
  • Graduate Association of School Psychologists
  • Graduate Business Program
  • Graduate School
  • Greek Studies
  • History
  • Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi
  • Human Resources
  • Information Systems Department
  • Information Technology Services
  • Infrastructure Services
  • Innovation Campus
  • Institutional Research
  • Instructional Computing Labs and Classrooms
  • Instructional Support Services
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • International Business Career Conference
  • International Business Club
  • International Business Honor Society
  • International Business Institute
  • International Master of Business Administration
  • International Student and Scholar Services
  • International Studies and Programs
  • ITS Security
  • ITS Sharepoint
  • Jazz Camp
  • Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program
  • Kickstart
  • Labor Studies Certificate Program
  • Laboratory of Cognitive and Affective Neurobiology of Self
  • Language and Cultural Studies
  • Languages


  • LGBTQ+
  • Libraries
  • Magazine
  • Majors and Degrees
  • Marketing Department
  • Master of Fine Arts
  • Microbes in Action
  • Millennium Student Center
  • MIS Mentoring
  • Missouri Small Business Resources
  • Mobile
  • Month of Giving
  • Museum Studies
  • MyGateway
  • Neighborhood Leadership Academy
  • Networking
  • New Student Programs
  • Nonprofit Management and Leadership Program
  • Off Campus Degree Completion
  • Office of Admissions
  • Office of Advising and Student Services - OASIS
  • Office of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Office of Finance
  • Office of Multicultural Student Services
  • Office of Online Administration
  • Office of Precollegiate Student Services
  • Office of Research Administration
  • Office of the Chancellor
  • Office of the Provost
  • Online
  • Opportunity Scholars Program
  • Optical Scanning
  • Parking and Transportation
  • Pathways
  • Philosophy
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Pierre Laclede Honors College
  • Planetarium
  • Planning and Construction
  • Police Department
  • Political Science
  • Postal Services
  • Printing Services
  • Project Management Office
  • Psychological Sciences
  • Public Policy Administration Program
  • Public Policy Research Center
  • Recreation and Wellness Center
  • Registration
  • Research in Optometry
  • Research Support and High Performance Computing
  • Reserve Officer Training Corps
  • Residential Life and Housing
  • Retirees Association
  • RITE
  • Safe Zone
  • Safety
  • School of Public Policy Administration
  • School of Social Work
  • Science and Technology Academic Center
  • Science Education Programs
  • Serious Change
  • Serious on Safety
  • Sexual Assault Research and Education Program
  • Sister Scholars Program
  • Smoke Free
  • Sociology
  • St. Louis Mercantile Library
  • St. Louis Metropolitan Research Exchange
  • St. Louis Psychology Internship Consortium
  • Staff Association
  • Student Affairs Business Center
  • Student Conduct
  • Student Financial Aid
  • Student Government Association
  • Student Involvement
  • Student Research Office
  • Student Retention Services
  • Student Social Services
  • Student Technology Guide
  • Study Abroad
  • Succeed
  • Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life
  • Summer
  • Supply Chain and Analytics Department
  • Sustainability
  • Teach for America
  • TEACHin12
  • Technology Procurement
  • Technology Support Center
  • Telephone Services
  • The Office of Academic Innovation
  • The Office of Clinical Experience and Partnerships
  • The School of Fine and Performing Arts
  • Theatre and Cinema Arts
  • Title IX
  • Training


  • Transfer Services
  • Triton Manual
  • TritonCard Services
  • TritonPrint
  • Undergraduate Business Programs
  • University Events
  • University Health Services
  • University Marketing and Communications
  • Veterans
  • Video Technology Services
  • Visitors
  • Welcome Center
  • Wellness Resource Services
  • Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center
  • Winter Classes

Will site managers be notified before a site audit begins?

Yes. Site managers will be notified by email when an individual site audit begins and will be informed of any issues along the way.


Will edits be made to sites during the review?

Yes. While the audit allows the Web and Electronic Communications staff to directly edit site content, it is anticipated that most site updates will be technical in nature. As such, the audit staff will not normally edit a site's written content. Site managers may notice site formatting or content updates during the review and are asked to not edit the site during the audit timeframe.


How long does a site audit take to complete?

Depending on the size and scope of an individual site, an audit may take one to five business days to conduct.


What is the role of the site manager in relation to the audit?

The main role of every site manager is to create and maintain rich website content that is not only relevant and up-to-date, but that supports our university’s academic, research, service, and economic development functions. To support that role, site managers are responsible for reviewing their sites periodically to ensure content is accurate and timely, links are working properly, images display correctly, and that the site meets UMSL’s web policies and brand standards.


What happens after a site audit?

Following a site review, site managers will receive notification of any areas of concern that should be addressed moving forward as well as a brief report of any updates made to the site.


Where can site managers gain information to address issues with a site?

Site managers may visit the CMS Knowledge Base to access training materials. In addition, site managers may register for additional CMS Training, including bi-weekly working sessions to gain one-on-one support from a trained CMS expert.


Who should site managers contact with questions?

Questions regarding the audit may be directed to Justin Roberts, Director of Communications, Timothy Wombles, project lead, or generally to the web staff at