Subdomain/Subsite Guidelines


The purpose of this document is to provide questions that will help determine whether a site belongs in or in a different area. When Web Services is contacted regarding a new site, the following information should guide a conversation about your project and lead to a recommendation.

The Web Services team at UM-Dearborn is a central team serving all of campus, but we are a small team with limited resources. Our main focus is to support all aspects of the main campus website, and unfortunately we cannot provide custom support and solutions for every campus web need.  However, we want to provide standard, sustainable solutions to other web needs whenever possible in conjunction with our campus partners.

Platform Offerings

Web Services offers guidance and assistance to our campus community in finding the right web presence for their needs. Recommendations will typically be one or more of the following offerings:

  1. UM-Dearborn Drupal (i.e., content as part of our main university’s website)

  2. UM-Dearborn Drupal siteroot (i.e., content as part of our main university’s website but on its own “branch,” like College of Business)

  3. Google Sites (non-branded)

  4. Blogger as part of U-M Google (e.g., the Deans’ blogs)

  5. Hosting on UM-Dearborn without use of the domain name (e.g., a university-related, separate initiative, like

  6. Hosting on UM-Dearborn on a different supported platform with use of the domain name (e.g., a website supporting specific faculty research, like These would also be subject to ITS governance.

  7. Hosting off UM-Dearborn without use of the domain name (e.g., a website for a student project)

  8. Social media (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

  9. VictorsLink

  10. Canvas

  11. Course Catalog

Sites in Options 3-6 are subject to review, approval, and semesterly renewal. Sites in Option 5 fall under the governance of ITS.

The existence of a website and/or application does not guarantee its approval and inclusion in UM-Dearborn’s ecosystem. Web Services should be contacted early in the process.


Site Purpose & Audience

  1. Why are you making the site?

Knowing the purpose of the site helps us understand where the site should “live” in UM-Dearborn’s web ecosystem.

A number of options already exist for your content:

    • Your unit or department’s general information, service offerings, and resources to our faculty, staff, students, business or community partners, and alumni should live in Drupal.

    • Information about your academic program, department or discipline should live in Drupal.

    • Public-facing entities (i.e., those groups on campus who are not part of a primary academic offering but whose programming serves both campus and the general public) should live in Drupal.

    • Course material should live in Canvas.  

    • Course information should live in Catalog.

    • Student organizations should live in VictorsLink.

    • Library information should live in the Library website.

    • Athletics content should live in the Athletics website.


Sometimes a different solution than a Drupal website is more appropriate. Some examples are:

    • When you seek easy engagement or collaboration. Social platforms are best for this.

    • When you have an announcement for a select, closed group of individuals. Email is best for this.

    • When you have internal files to share within your unit or department. Use U-M Drive, U-M Box, or Google Sites.

    • When you have a complex application or content that isn’t supported by Drupal.

    • When your content is not created as part of your role within the university.

    • When you have a personal website. Google Sites is a more appropriate option.

  1. Who are your audiences?

At UM-Dearborn, our primary website audiences are:

  • Prospective students

    • Prospective Freshmen

    • Prospective Transfer

    • Prospective Graduate

    • Prospective Non-Degree/Other

  • Current students

    • Current Undergraduate

    • Current Graduate


Our secondary website audiences are:

  • Alumni

  • Faculty & Staff

  • Local Businesses & Community Organizations

  • Media

  • Accreditation Bodies

There are also other audiences who are important to the UM-Dearborn website, like donors, families of students, and high school counselors. We find that by meeting the informational needs of the audiences listed above, we are able to meet the needs of these other website audiences.


Knowing the audience of your content can help us find the right place for it. For example:

    • If your site’s content is meant for only your unit, department, or group, U-M Box, U-M Google Drive, or a Google Site is the best option.

    • If your site’s content is meant for only a niche audience, a different platform may be a better option than inclusion in the main campus website.

  • Is there a specific duration for which you need the site?

Sites with time-limited content may belong somewhere else or have a schedule where it can be removed. For example, a study abroad program may want to invite students to share their experiences for a semester. Oftentimes, content that only needs to be available for a short period of time can be:

  • Housed in social media

  • Added as news or events on the campus Drupal site


  1. What is your particular group, project or initiative?
    Tell us more about yourself. Understanding how your group, project or initiative fits into the big picture of University of Michigan-Dearborn’s mission and vision helps us get the right fit for your content.

Note: If you’d like to pursue a social media solution, that’s great! We encourage review with UM-Dearborn's social media strategist and preparation of the social media strategy planning document.


  1. What does the site need to do? Does it need features outside of Drupal’s main feature set?

    • Requires evaluation from Web Services.

  2. Are you handling sensitive data?

    • Sites handling sensitive data must be reviewed by ITS.

  3. Do you need password protection to view the content?

    • Google Sites is an option. It uses SSO (single-sign on).

  4. Do you need SFTP access?

    • SFTP is a file transfer protocol that grants people the ability to create, edit, update, delete and change permissions on files that are not just file assets like images, but code and other files that power a website or application.

    • Sites requiring FTP/SFTP access need to go through ITS and require more information/justification.

  5. Do you need monitoring support for finding links, search optimization?

    • Sites on Drupal automatically get included in our site monitoring tool, SiteImprove.

    • If monitoring is needed, nothing can be offered right now for non-Drupal sites but we can review that at our renewal.

  6. Do you need Google Analytics?

    • Google Analytics can usually be managed through External Relations.

  7. Do you need your content to be included in the web search?

    • As of January 2018, only the Drupal website, Library and Athletics websites have content indexed in the web search.

  8. (For applications) Is there another platform that currently exists or will exist that will better serve your needs?

    • A packaged solution is usually better than a custom one.

    • Contact ITS.

  9. Do you just need hosting?

    • ITS provides cloud hosting options at a charge. The charges would be generally billed out to a department and should be minimal.

    • Sites hosted by ITS do not necessarily use our domain but need to be in accordance with relevant SPGs (601.07 - Responsible Use of Information Resources).


  1. Are you ready for this site? Is the content written and collected?

    • We will start this process when the content is ready.

  2. What kinds of content are you maintaining (video, image, written, etc.)?

    • For example, if you’re seeking to only showcase videos, we may recommend a YouTube channel instead after consultation with our Social Media specialist.

  3. Who’s writing the content? If it’s a blog or social media, what’s the schedule?

    • Reviewing the university’s social media strategy and guidelines can help you define a schedule and plan.

  4. How does this new site fit into the rest of the university’s site? For example, does it need to pull events and news from a larger site? Does the content tie into other parts of the site?

    • If the answers to the latter two questions is yes, it’s likely that the content should be part of

  5. Is the content supporting a central business process and/or service offering of the university?

    • If yes, it’s likely that the content should be part of


Note: A site map will also need to be created.

Note: People in need of content creation can submit a project request to Communications & Marketing, but there is no guarantee that the work will be take on. Reviewing and editing existing content is easier than generating brand-new content. Content can also be created and updated in line with the university’s web content coordinator model.


  1. Who will build the site? Who will maintain it?

    • For custom sites, an external development resource must be named every semester for renewal. Sites that are built using Drupal or Google Sites do not need a developer.

  2. Who are the content owner and editors?

    • A content owner, editor and backup editor must be named every semester for renewal.

  3. Are students maintaining the site and/or generating content?

    • When students are generating content or maintaining the site, a named faculty or staff member must moderate the site and serve as an administrator of the site.

    • Sites must also be renewed each semester.

  4. Who will host the site?

    • ITS can host, you may be charged, you may also need a different solution.

  5. What’s the organizational unit who “owns” the site?

    • Generally, we provide support for the following. All requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.





Theming (UM-Dearborn colors)**

Theming (UM-Dearborn branding & logo)**

Recognized centers, institutes and labs





Special projects & initiatives





Faculty research





Student organizations (USOs)*





Student organizations (RSOs)





Student organizations (non-recognized)










Student projects





Faculty personal sites






Note: Users with social media and/or blogs should work with our Social Media Specialist for advice on comments.

Note: All sites on our subdomain need to meet WCAG AA standards for accessibility.

Note: Blogger is available as part of the U-M Google Suite. However, from a content strategy perspective, we’ve found that blogs are hard to maintain over time and difficult to generate traffic to. Social media may be a better option.

*Note: University-sponsored student organizations can have a logo and theme, but Web Services doesn't currently have the capability to support a CMS template for these organizations.

**Note: As of January 2018, Web Services does not offer non-Drupal website templates that are in line with university brand standards. We are happy to advise and review sites for branding.

Other Thoughts

Should you blog?

In many cases, social presences are viable alternatives to blogs since a community is more easily built.

What other platforms are out there and can I use them?

Note: Marketing Cloud landing pages, at this time, will only be developed by External Relations for paid advertising. If you feel your page should be part of Marketing Cloud, please contact the CRM team.

Do we have an Intranet?

Note: We do not have a campus intranet. We recommend using Google Suite or Box for internal file sharing and collaboration. Google Sites is a good option for internally-facing, low complexity sites that may require password protection. You can make your own department internal website by using Google Sites.

Do you need something more sophisticated?

Web Services can refer you to a list of preferred development partners. The site must be reviewed and approved to have our subdomain and/or be hosted on our servers.

In this case:

  1. We will not pay for this site/application.

  2. We will not maintain the site/application.

  3. We will review it and provide advice to ensure that it follows our standards and best practices.

  4. We will identify the owner, editor and developer for semesterly renewal.

What about a Drupal Siteroot?

Note: There’s a need to determine when something could live in Drupal but be its own siteroot (like a college). Here are some considerations:

  • Key to the university’s mission/function and/or college

  • Features met within Drupal

  • Distinct enough from other entities to warrant its own siteroot, either in structure, content or audience

  • Leverages news, events, etc., from main site

  • Consistency of UX for centers and research (the pattern should by and large be the same. Do we have a landing page with more detailed content elsewhere?)

  • Content for courses vs. content for research. Sometimes there are both--link to each other.

Drupal Features List

  1. Hero carousel of images and text

  2. Accordions

  3. Copy & Image

  4. Topic Tiles

  5. Calls to Action

  6. Links

  7. Topic image tiles

  8. Charts/Graphs

  9. Lists/carousels of news or events

  10. YouTube videos

  11. News

  12. Events

  13. Profiles (for faculty)

  14. Unique header/footer

  15. Creation of pages, including working in draft mode and restoration of trashed pages.

  16. Built-in styling (colors, logo and template)

  17. Part of

  18. Monitoring by Web Services for content quality assurance

  19. Google Analytics

  20. Part of site search

For More Information

Contact Web Services:


Policy owned by: Web Services