User Experience & Web Strategy
The User Experience & Web Strategy (UXWS) team drives the strategic vision and execution of the University’s digital presence and infrastructure. We work with various stakeholders to ensure messages are clear, direct, effective and grounded in today’s industry best practices.
The UXWS team strives to create and continuously enhance a Howard web presence that is modern, enjoyable to use, easy to navigate and unified in branding. We also seek to improve business processes and increase efficiency of the enterprise’s web expenditure.
We provide general support for public-facing websites for the University and its units, which include schools/colleges, offices, centers/institutes, and departments. To these ends, the team maintains an integrated suite of Drupal sites hosted within the Office of University Communications’ cloud-based environment.
See further details about these services, below.
For Drupal websites hosted directly by the Office of University Communications:
- Maintenance of a suite of content management “widgets,” which are shared across all sites and continuously expanded (see https://sitebuilding.howard.edu/ for more information);
- Integration with “enterprise” web services, including connection to Howard content feeds (from calendar, people profiles, Newsroom, Howard Magazine and more);
- Content maintenance for select sites;
- Content management training and access;
- Troubleshooting site errors;
- Back-end code and security maintenance;
- UI (user interface) and content improvements based on UX (user experience) research;
- Web analytics reporting;
- WCAG compliance (accessibility); and
- Web development.
For all Howard University sites
- General consultation and advising on web-related matters;
- Vendor support recommendations;
- Pre-launch site review for functionality and branding guideline compliance;
- Howard subdomain creation and adjustment approval; and
- URL redirects.
More about our Services
Maintenance of a suite of content management “widgets”
Widgets are configured to meet a variety of content presentation needs. All widgets are made available across each Drupal 8 site and are continuously enhanced and expanded. For examples and a summary of best practices for each widget, see https://sitebuilding.howard.edu/.
Feed content from "enterprise” web services, including connection to Howard content feeds (from calendar, people profiles, Newsroom, Howard Magazine and more).
Enterprise sites stand on their own as websites and provide content for other sites. We can configure content “feeds,” or lists of select content from one of our enterprise sites, to appear within an office/department’s website. For example, if a website’s managing office would like to host a page within their site that displays listings of the office’s events, we can create a calendar that pulls just that particular office/department’s events from the main University calendar. To see an example, review the Graduate School’s calendar page, the events of which also exist within the main University calendar.
Content maintenance for select sites
The UXWS team manages content for a few sites. But for the vast majority of sites, content is maintained by trained content editors from the unit owner.
Content management training and access
While the UXWS team maintains the back end of all the sites it hosts, it does not manage site content. A unit owner is expected to maintain at least one trained content editor for this purpose, and UXWS may provide such access once prerequisites have been completed. For more information about training, please see content management and training.
Troubleshooting site errors
If you experience site errors either within the front-end functionality or while editing the content of a site, please let us know via our request form, and we will investigate.
Hosting: Back-end code and security maintenance
All our sites are secured via SSL certificate and receive periodic security updates/patches. Additionally, code and technical protocol are updated, as needed, to maintain best practices.
UI (user interface) and content improvements based on UX (user experience) research
UXWS is committed to providing the best UI (user interface) and UX (user experience). We encourage users and visitors to provide feedback, which will be documented and considered for future updates.
Accessibility compliance and remediation
Our sites are designed to meet the most recent iteration of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG), which address 508 and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility compliance.
Web analytics reporting
We can provide various levels of analytics report access upon request from a site’s owning office/department.
We develop new functionality for our websites on an ongoing basis.
General consultation and advising on various web matters
We can schedule a consultation meeting with you to advise on specific web needs, which may include, but are not limited to, the following: best practices, vendor support, web solution options and user experience (UX) improvements.
Web vendor recommendations
Preferred vendor partners: The UXWS team maintains a list of preferred partner vendors that are familiar with the UXWS style and general web requirements. Vendors that have worked with the University in the past might more easily be able to take advantage of existing University web assets, which could reduce some of the site development time and cost that other vendors would require.
If you make a request to receive assistance obtaining vendor estimates, you will be connected with one or more of our partner vendors that can provide a site-building time and cost estimate, which is based on your site’s specific needs and scope of content. Please note that until a thorough inquiry into your office/department’s site needs is conducted, an accurate estimate cannot be provided.
Note about other third-party vendors: While we recommend using a preferred vendor partner, Howard entities may also solicit the support of other vendors. However, the site they build must meet the UXWS style and general web requirements. Also, if you choose this path, we recommend that you read our third-party vendor recommendations and understand that the University will not directly host your site nor assist with any form of maintenance.
Development site review for third-party sites (functionality and branding guideline compliance)
In order to receive approval to use a howard.edu subdomain for your site, and therefore be an official part of the Howard web family, your site must comply with the OUC’s style and general web requirements. Please request a site review to ensure that your development site meets the requirements before requesting launch and/or use of a Howard subdomain. A site review will take up to 7-10 business days to complete after a request is received.
Howard subdomain creation and adjustment approval
To create a Howard subdomain, such as home.howard.edu or studentaffairs.howard.edu, or adjust an existing subdomain, you can make a request. Approval may require a security audit of the requested destination as well as providing other specific information.
If deemed necessary, we can configure a howard.edu URL to point to another Howard URL or external site. If you are in need of an easily identifiable and memorable URL or have migrated web content from one webpage to another, it might be a good reason to create a redirect from the old URL to the new location so the new location is easily found.
Redirects also help remove old webpages from search engine results and help search engines discover the new pages that you have created.