Introduction and Purpose

Please Note:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sonoma State University has transitioned to remote instruction for spring 2020. Employees are working remotely in almost all departments. Email is the best way to communicate with our faculty and staff. Please see the SSU COVID-19 site for more information.

These pages about SSU's Web Standards are specific to sites on our legacy web server, If you are looking for information about our web redesign and Drupal, please visit Website Redesign.

About This Site

The SSU Web Standards site supports the University's efforts to improve the usability, accessibility, and accuracy of SSU's websites. The information on this site includes policy, procedures and technical documentation to support the design and implementation of SSU websites.

Who Should Read This

Introduction and Purpose, Implementing Web Standards
These sections describe the purpose and reasons SSU has web standards, the minimum requirements, procedures for requesting exemptions, and relevant Identity Standards. SSU employees responsible for websites, either at a higher level or hands-on, should be aware of this information. Contractors who build sites for SSU should read the section on Minimum Requirements closely.
Page Types
SSU employees who are working with the Web Team to build or redesign a site should review these pages to select page layout options.
How the Templates Work, Content Styles
These sections describe SSU's Web Templates, as well as relevant HTML, CSS, JavaScript and other web development topics. SSU employees who maintain department websites based on SSU's Web Templates should use these pages as a reference tool when editing department sites, or when planning to build or redesign a site.

Web Standards define the practices and procedures, instructions, guidelines and criteria for building, publishing and maintaining SSU websites. They incorporate examples of best practices and effective design elements as they apply to successfully defining Sonoma State University.

Web Standards work in conjunction with Sonoma State University’s Web policy and Identity Toolkit.

Sonoma State University’s websites present an image to the world, and University websites must undergo the same professional scrutiny and careful preparation given to any other business or organization creating a signature look, logo or brand, image or reputation.

Compliance with SSU Web Standards ensures efficient and effective usability, navigation, communication, and access to the widest audience.

When adhering to Web Standards, academic and administrative departments can quickly develop, deploy and update websites using provided templates and styles.

Incorporating Web Standards promotes efficiency, speed and quality for all parties, designers, editors and content managers. Formatting decisions are already made and implemented by use of style sheets and approved templates, not the individual page editor; editors don’t need to spend time learning Dreamweaver, creating design, formatting, figuring out colors schemes and working at making the pages accessible.


Deploying and adhering to SSU Web Standards fulfills the requirements of the CSU Accessible Technology Initiative. SSU web sites must conform to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as mandated by California Government Code 11135 and CSU Executive Order 926.

Promoting accessibility benefits all users, including those:

  • who maintain websites
  • who use mobile devices
  • who are new to using web
  • who use older technologies or a slower Internet connection
  • who are not fluent in the language of the site or have low literacy
  • who have changing abilities due to aging
  • who have temporary disabilities (such as a broken arm)
  • who have disabilities related to seeing, hearing, moving, or processing information

Web Standards Apply to the Following Websites

Websites that represent Sonoma State University divisions, schools, departments and programs, whether displaying public-facing, internal or “employee only” content, regardless who created them, fall under the mandates of SSU’s Web Standards. Sites created by off-campus developers or volunteers, or are part of a web-based tool or service hosted on or off-campus must conform to SSU’s Web Standards just as those pages created by SSU employees.

Standards Will Change

Over time, SSU's web standards will evolve to reflect changes in technology, law and the University's branding. When building or redesigning a website, use the most recent SSU web standards.

School, Division or Department Standards

  • A school, division, department, program, or other administrative entity may allow the development of additional web standards requirements for their sites, as long as they do not conflict with University web standards.


Schools, division, department and programs may apply for an exemption from compliance with SSU's design and accessibility requirements.