What are digital standards?
Our new digital standards present an overview of the criteria for creating and managing McGill websites and online services. These standards are references and principles for best practices, mandatory and legal obligations, and industry standards regarding web production and other digital properties.
Why were they created?
Information about McGill's web standards was previously scattered across numerous websites and files. Combining these standards into a single resource has resulted in a number of improvements that include:
- Easier access to a comprehensive set of criteria for creating and managing McGill websites and online services
- A shared mechanism for our unified web team (comprised of Communications and External Relations' Digital Communications team and IT Services' Web Services Group) to evaluate websites and determine support requirements
Taking a cue from similar documents published by various governments and universities, we organized our digital standards in a compact list of overarching principles. Each standard includes a brief statement explaining its importance; a list of key criteria related to the standard; and links to supporting resources for further details.
Here's an overview of the process we followed to create our digital standards:
- Benchmarking analysis
We started by reviewing similar resources that had been developed by various governments and universities. This exercise helped us better define our goals and objectives and also helped us envision how our completed document could be structured. Sites we looked at for inspiration included the UK government's Government Design Principles, the Government of Ontario's Digital Service Standard, and University of London's Digital Standards.
- User research and initial draft
Based on our benchmarking and analysis, we drafted initial standards and recommendations. We then reviewed these with key units at McGill to ensure that the standards are clear, actionable, and represent our values as an institution. Units consulted included:
- Student support services including: Office for Students with Disabilities, Equity at McGill
- IT Services teams including: IT Communications (ITCOM), Web Service Group (WSG), IT Customer Services (ICS), Network and Communication Services (NCS), Shared Platform & Development Services (SPDS), and IT Architecture, Project Management & Governance (APMG)
- Members of McGill's web management community
- Evaluation and testing - Digital standards (beta)
Using the input from our community consultations, we created a revised version of our digital standards. This launched in beta in September 2019, which allowed us to review and test the standards with additional audience members and stakeholders. Feedback provided was consolidated and analyzed and the site was updated accordingly.
- Presentations and promotion to the McGill community
Our digital standards officially launched in November 2019. We're currently promoting the standards and supporting resources to the McGill community. We'll be spreading the word about the launch of our digital standards - and training people to apply them - in a variety of ways. This includes community presentations, email and newsletter announcements, development of new content for our training programs, and more.
- Ongoing evaluation and refinement
In keeping with our digital standard to Build, evaluate, revise, we're planning to re-evaluate and revise our standards - along with the tools that support our standards - on an ongoing basis.