Notre Dame’s websites are the front door of the University. With an estimated 10–15 million unique website visitors across our network each year, online visitors are our largest audience. Our brand and reputation rely upon excellence in this digital space.
In addition, Notre Dame’s website network represents our connection to one another—the Notre Dame family. As users navigate from one website to another, the experience should be consistent and professional. Our web standards are designed to promote unity.
Campus units looking to publish an official, University-approved public website should review the following information before they begin design or development. University subdomain approvals hinge upon adherence to these standards.
The Marketing Communications Web Team is the preferred vendor for campus units designing new websites. Campus units interested in contracting with outside vendors must nevertheless consult with the web team first, at the onset of the project, to ensure compliance with branding, hosting, and quality standards. As such, the MarComm Web Team reserves the right to provide corrections or recommendations to any campus websites that do not closely adhere to these standards.
The Notre Dame Web Theme
The Notre Dame Web Theme provides the design language for the majority of the University’s websites. Developed alongside www.nd.edu, the Web Theme provides designers a branded starting point that creates credibility and unity within Notre Dame’s network. The theme is flexible enough to account for sub-branding and unique expressions, while providing a consistent design foundation.
The Web Theme was approved by University leadership in fall 2019. Starting in January 2020, all new websites must use the theme as a starting point. The University provides resources and starter kits to get started, whether you choose to build your website on campus or with an external agency.
- All approved websites are expected to be fully responsive, with a simple and functioning user experience across all devices (mobile, tablet, desktop, etc.).
- Developers should work with performance in mind. All websites should load quickly across all devices and connection speeds. A minimum score of 90 on desktop and 80 on mobile from Google's PageSpeed Insights is required.
- Developers should work with a strong understanding of web accessibility standards (WCAG 2.1, Level AA). Websites should be fully readable by a screen reader, be operable using a keyboard, and include alt text. Navigation should be simple, and color choices need to have proper contrast.
- Google Lighthouse:
- Accessibility and SEO should score 100.
- Best Practices should be above 80, but will depend on the reported issues. Contact the web team if you have any questions about your results.
- Performance should score a minimum of 80 on mobile, and 90 on desktop.
We highly recommend sites are measured at multiple stages during the creation process using tools such as Google Lighthouse or web.dev Measure.
It’s recommended that campus units work with a professional web agency (MarComm Web Team or external agency) to develop new websites. Quality standards are strictly enforced, and personal projects, faculty/student projects, and freelance projects often fail to reflect the professionalism necessary for approval. Choose a partner with the experience and capability to do the job right.
NOTE: All websites created outside the university using a "nd.edu" subdomain must be submitted to Marketing Communications for a QA review prior to going live. You must notify Marcomm when the site is ready to go live (dev and content must be complete), and we will perform QA review within five business days. All reported issues must be addressed prior to the site going live.
Campus websites must be hosted in a secure and high-performing environment. Approval will be granted only for sites that are hosted on University-approved vendors.
University Hosted CMS:
If you are building a custom website, or working with a vendor, the University recommends the following vendors:
Other approved vendors:
For more information on hosting, contact OIT Help.
Minimum design standards are available for specific units granted additional flexibility (for branding or technical reasons). Such websites can be designed using either the Notre Dame Web Theme or a custom design. These minimum standards are not available for academic or administrative websites, but may apply in the following instances:
- Special Events
- Branded Campaigns & Initiatives
- Products & Journals
- Internal Applications
- Third-Party Applications
Units that fall into these categories should get approval from Marketing Communications prior to designing new websites using the minimum standards.
Retired Web Requirements
The University’s previous web requirements, retired in 2019, are available for reference. Parties meeting these standards are under no obligation to immediately update to the current standards, but should do so during their next web redesign.
- With few exceptions, advertising is not allowed on University websites. Do not include endorsements, banner ads, or other commercial interests.
- Ownership or permission is required for all photography and graphics.
- Do not display altered or misused Notre Dame official logos or marks on your website.