University Policies for Websites Developed in A&S and WashU

What you need to know when beginning a website project

A website is most effective when it leverages four key components:

  1. High-quality content that is relevant to the audience.
  2. Ease of use, navigability, and accessibility, regardless of the visitor's device or browser. This includes ensuring the website is accessible to people with disabilities, such as those who use screen readers or have limited mobility.
  3. Search engine optimization (SEO) so that visitors can easily find the website.
  4. Adherence to a unified brand strategy, which helps leverage the reputation and authority of the parent organization (WashU) and creates a consistent and professional look and feel.

The fourth point is relatively straightforward: University MarComm has established guidelines for fonts, colors, and logos that are to be used across all of WashU’s external-facing communication channels (including websites that are not password protected). These elements visually reinforce – and leverage – the WashU brand. It is also important to note that these elements have been chosen because they work well across a range of digital devices and environments, and they comply with accessibility regulations.

WashU FONTS    Color palettes     Logo use guidelines

Web Accessibility

Web accessibility is a vital aspect of website development that ensures equal access to information for all users, regardless of their abilities. This encompasses individuals with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological challenges – but often benefits a far wider audience. At Washington University, we are deeply committed to inclusivity, as reflected in our Electronic and Information Technology Policy. This policy aligns with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, aiming to provide equitable opportunities for individuals with disabilities to access services and information on par with their counterparts. We strive to ensure that every person, regardless of disability, can engage fully in our digital spaces.

Website Layout/Structure for SEO

The current and any future WashU A&S website themes and templates incorporate essential SEO features, including technical optimizations and architectural elements that enhance page load speed and web crawler efficiency. Additionally, our websites provide additional features that require editors to follow SEO best practices, such as adding metadata like alt tags, image titles, and headings. By combining these metadata pieces with our site's technical features, search engines better understand your content's context and relevance, ultimately resulting in improved search rankings.

Brand Adherence for Greater Audience Engagement

Adhering to the university's branding guidelines when designing your web pages can significantly impact your research website's credibility and trustworthiness among visitors. Embracing an established brand identity by following a unified brand strategy will enhance your website's visibility in searches, making it more appealing to peers, faculty, students, donors, and sponsors. Consistently following the branding guidelines ensures a polished and professional appearance for supporting websites, reinforcing their authority and impact.

A number of primary and secondary color palettes are available to use on WashU branded websites – as well as a number of fonts.  A&S Computing and A&S MarComm suggest that you engage with us early in the design process so we can help you pick the best color and font choices.

Benefits of a unified brand strategy:

  • Increased brand awareness, online credibility, recall, and recognition
  • Improved online and offline reputation
  • Reduced marketing costs through leveraging the overarching brand identity
  • Enhanced customer experience, satisfaction, and trust
  • Improved search engine quality scores

Working with A&S Marketing and Communications

Collaborating with the A&S Marketing and Communications and A&S Computing teams during the initial stages of the design of your web pages can yield significant advantages:

Tailored brand identity: Our teams can assist in developing a brand identity guide that maintains alignment with the overarching university brand while giving your research a distinct image.

Effective marketing materials: By working with marketing, you can identify the necessary assets to create marketing materials that adhere to the university's branding guidelines. These materials can effectively promote your research brand through vetted media channels such as social media, email marketing, media releases, and other appropriate platforms.

Amplified visibility: A unified brand presence and image, achieved with marketing expertise, can enhance your university website's search visibility. This increased visibility attracts peers, faculty, students, donors, and sponsors to your research, fostering collaboration and support.

Branding Guide for Research Websites

Website Policies and Information

Domain Names

In general, all university internet services and all information about the university available from accessing the internet, including any of its schools, departments, divisions, centers, faculty, staff and fiscal and operating units, must use only the domain. Please see the Domain Name policy for more information. A&S Computing can only create URLS for those sites meeting the brand requirements.


We aim to meet or exceed the WCAG 2.1 AA standards for accessibility. See more below.

User Accounts

For the WUSTL community, WUSTL Key (SSO) is used for authentication. For projects requiring authenticated access to non-WashU communities, options can be discussed with A&S Computing.  For both communities, audits must be performed a minimum of two times per year. Account audits are the responsibility of the primary site contact.  Site contacts must document when an audit has occurred by emailing their A&S Computing contact.   The Primary Contact for the website is expected to inform A&S Computing when a website user leaves so that we can disable their account.


Arts & Sciences hosts websites on AWS. Please work with A&S Computing to set up your hosting. We cannot support projects hosted on other platforms such as; Google Cloud, Wix, or Microsoft Azure but will be happy to work with you to migrate them to AWS.


Arts & Sciences Computing employs robust security measures to safeguard databases hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The gateway server, which is the initial point of access, can only be reached through cryptographic keys that use Secure Hash Algorithm 512 (SHA-512) or higher. This access, however, only allows users to reach the top-level programs, which are primarily HTML/PHP documents. These documents do not carry any significant data, particularly no database (DB) data.

The databases themselves are protected by an additional layer of security. They can only be accessed from the server to which they are connected, and this access is facilitated through an encrypted connection to the MySQL server. Furthermore, the storage space where the databases are saved is also encrypted, adding an extra layer of security. This comprehensive approach ensures that the databases are secure and that the data within them is protected from unauthorized access.


Research Website means any Arts & Sciences website for a research project supported by University Resources or an inter-institutional research project in which Arts & Sciences is participating. This includes projects undertaken by the Humanities Digital WorkshopTransdisciplinary Institute in Applied Data Sciences (TRIADS), Incubator for Transdisciplinary Futures, or other A&S initiatives supporting research.

Department Website means any website for an Arts & Sciences Department, Center, or Program linked from the Arts & Sciences website.

Primary Contact is the person responsible for the day-to-day oversight of a website and its content.

Additional Resources

Consult with A&S Computing on Your Project

Contact A&S Computing