Important information for those who are working with VCU units on projects that use the Compass web framework. Last updated June 15, 2021.
Overview: VCU’s web ecosystem
As of May 2021, VCU has a network of 601 websites designated as “organizational websites” in our A to Z index. TerminalFour, our university’s official CMS manages 488 of those, over 80%.
VCU Web Standards
All organizational websites are governed by a set of rules, regulations and guidelines, known as VCU Web Standards. Our web standards are authorized by the Organizational Websites Management and Hosting Policy. All vendors and stakeholders should have an understanding of the VCU Web Standards, but there are a few significant items for the purposes of this document.
- All VCU websites must be compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA.
- Websites requiring a content management system (CMS) must use the approved content management platform for VCU, TerminalFour.
- All VCU websites must be compliant with the Web Standards & Guidelines checklist.
Compass: The University Web Framework
Compass, the university web framework, is a cross-unit initiative from VCU Technology Services and Enterprise Marketing and Communications that's designed to bring consistency in branding and structure to VCU’s web presence.
Created in partnership by VCU’s Technology Services and Enterprise Marketing and Communications, Compass is an ongoing initiative committed to the acceleration and excellence of VCU’s websites and web applications.
- Technology Services is VCU’s centralized IT support and management group, responsible for the technology that is integral to the academic and personal lives of VCU’s students, faculty and staff. It serves as a vital and essential tool to support the highest caliber of instruction, research, public service, healthcare and administrative activities.
- Enterprise Marketing and Communications is VCU's in-house integrated communications expert, specializing in public relations, digital services, branding, print production, photography, event management, social media, advertising and more. They partner with units across VCU to deliver results that align with VCU's strategic goals.
Compass’s goal is to bootstrap the development process for VCU Websites, allowing web content managers and developers to create “on-brand” and “within-standard” websites and web applications without the creation of foundation-like assets on a per-project basis. With a web framework that is centrally supported, branded, tested and documented, VCU departmental website managers have a consistent and compliant framework for their website projects.
Compass is laser-focused on providing an inclusive and excellent experience for our students and stakeholders. As a premier higher education institution, it is vital we commit to creating a framework that focuses on the needs of our specific web users. While we have been inspired by Twitter Bootstrap, we cannot rely on their platform to make the right decisions for VCU.
In partnership with Enterprise Marketing and Communications, Technology Services has created a scalable and adaptable implementation of Compass in our TerminalFour application. Within T4, we have provided an ever-growing list of shared assets to create reliable experiences for individual websites. Websites can achieve a custom appearance with individual CSS and JS theming and additional “content types” within TerminalFour.
Note: The T41 implementation will present certain challenges for developers not familiar with working within a strict framework. While the constraints of working within the framework have unique challenges, it is important to understand how the implementation is based upon our core mission toward fully realizing a consistent and compliant framework. Our primary goals with Compass include ease of use for the content managers, consistency for the end-users, and future-proofing the project, post completion.
Current employees and affiliates can find directions on exploring and developing with Compass on the components.compass.vcu.edu Guidelines page. Feel free to install the package via NPM or GIT.
Technology Services provides a bi-weekly support for Compass via Web Services' open consulting service. View the consulting schedule.