VIMS Web Strategy & Policy

Supervision of department, program, and lab-group websites at the Virginia Institute of Marine science is the responsibility of News & Media Services. Please [[v|vimspr,consult with us]] for best practices when creating and managing web content at VIMS. VIMS' office of Information Technology and Network Services maintains our web servers and server software.

Oversight of web

Internal units at VIMS that wish to host a web presence should first contact [[v|vimspr, the VIMS web manager.]] Please be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Who is your intended audience?
  • What is your goal?
  • How will you measure success?
  • How frequently do you plan to add and update content?
  • What type of content do you plan to post?
  • Who will be the primary web author? Is there a back-up author available when needed?
  • Will the web author monitor the account on a regular basis to reply to any questions/concerns?

General resources for social-media strategy, guidelines, policies, and best practices can also be found on the William & Mary website.


The purpose of the VIMS website is to:

  • provide ready access to the knowledge and data generated by VIMS research
  • notify external audiences of upcoming events and provide access to logistical details
  • increase awareness of our three-part mission of research, education, and advisory service
  • engage target audiences by sharing content that clearly shows the value we bring to society and the environment
  • reinforce our brand and messaging
  • provide access to job-related  a sense of community with both internal and external audiences

The social-media community at VIMS values:

  • responsiveness to stakeholders
  • active feedback from stakeholders
  • conversation, the exchange of ideas, reflection
  • content that is shared via retweets, likes, and comments
  • communication that offers a sense of place and thus differentiates VIMS from other social-media sites

General policy related to social media at VIMS includes the following:

We do

  • make every effort to ensure our content is factual and based on scientific evidence
  • encourage reasonable dialogue and offer a balanced perspective and multiple points of view
  • provide proper attribution when citing or sharing content produced elsewhere

We do not

  • advocate, persuade, sanction, or prescribe actions concerning legislation or policy issues
  • use or allow comments that contain hate language
  • allow posts that would be offensive to a reasonable person
  • use profanity, or placeholders of profanity, in posts
  • allow comments that are personal attacks against public figures, or members of the VIMS community
Brand Management

When you use social media on behalf of a unit at VIMS, your channel should reinforce the VIMS brand. Consider the following:

  • everything you post on social media affects VIMS’ reputation; either enhancing the institutional brand or detracting from it
  • we expect high editorial quality. This includes limiting typos, grammatical errors, and subpar content
  • pages should use compelling images that reflect the work of that unit

The News & Media Services office will continue to focus on:

  • systematic use of content tied to central themes and messages of VIMS
  • measurement and return on investment
  • sharing engaging user-generated content
  • enhancing live events via social-media tools

Content is king. Make it great. Great social-media content:

  • is factually accurate
  • shows the institute in a positive light
  • leverages our wealth of visual imagery to make an emotional connection with audiences
  • encourages interaction via shares, comments, likes, and other forms of social-media connectivity
  • uses relevant hashtags to reach a broader audience
  • is not verbose (Shakespeare was right that "Brevity is the soul of wit.")

Web managers are responsible for creating content that meets web usability and accessibility standards, ensuring the accuracy and timeliness of the information presented, publishing pages that represent professional design and quality, ensuring that web materials comply with university policy and copyright, privacy, information security, intellectual property, and libel laws, and responding to inquiries and comments directed at the published material.

Anyone maintaining websites must be aware of web standards that support usability and accessibility. Departmental web editors are responsible for making certain types of adaptations in the design of their web content.

W&M departments have a responsibility to create websites that positively represent the university while safeguarding the privacy of any data they collect via web forms. If a website collects personally identifiable information the site must disclose to the end-user the purpose of the collection and how the data will be used. Furthermore, the data cannot be used for purposes other than those stated on the website. Unless granted an exception by IT, all websites will communicate securely (via https:). Please contact IT if your department is unsure about the acceptability of particular web applications, or to consult about the most secure way to collect and maintain data on the web. If directed, IT may delete or make inaccessible files that contain material that is in violation of state and federal law or W&M policy.

The following are not permissible uses of W&M web space:

  • Departments must not collect, store or present any sensitive or personally identifiable information without prior approval by the Director of Information Security in the Department of Information Technology. For a detailed definition of sensitive and/or personally identifiable information please reference the university's Data Classification and Protection Policy.
  • Departmental webpages cannot be used for commercial, non-university purposes. They cannot be for the personal or private gain of an individual or group of individuals promoting a private or commercial cause.
  • Credit card transactions are not permitted on any web servers maintained by Information Technology. Specifically, departments are not permitted to collect credit card numbers for payments via a webpage or form. The current W&M web environment cannot securely store and protect credit card customers and companies. Departments should contact the Director of Information Security in the Department of Information Technology if online credit card transactions are essential for departmental business.
  • Advertising space on the website cannot be sold by departments or other units. "Advertising" refers to any instance in which the unit receives payment or in-kind gifts in exchange for a link or brand placement on a university webpage. Links or information about commercial vendors may be made in the following specific situations:
    • In recognition of partners and approved sponsors of the university
    • For a licensed software required for web viewing (e.g., Adobe Acrobat Reader, RealAudio, VeriSign)
    • For separately contracted vendors who provide services to the university (e.g., TIAA, Sodexo)
    • For educational or other mission-related purposes and the university has received no consideration for incorporating that link.