Custom Website Guidelines

What is a custom site?

A custom website is one that “breaks” the standard framework developed for the Campus Web—this includes alterations such as moving site navigation, elimination of visual identity elements synonymous with the campus brand, or sites built outside the Cascade content management system. Examples of custom sites include Transform Tomorrow ( and Admissions (


Sites that use standard or upgraded elements tailored to their site such as banner collages, social media feeds, buttons, or forms are not considered “custom.”

What are the drawbacks of a custom site?

Breaks user expectations

Users of the Campus Web are accustomed to standard web elements being in the same place on every website. For example, they know exactly where to find office hours or the navigation menu. Breaking these patterns in a custom site design may frustrate or confuse regular users of the main campus website.

Lacks brand recognition

Custom sites are not easily recognizable as part of the Campus Web because they do not follow the visual identity guidelines used across all main sites. This can cause users to question the legitimacy of your site or misunderstand your connection to Chico State.

Has significant costs for requesting department

Custom sites cost an average of $5,000 of Web Services staff time for the initial design and build. They also have training and continued maintenance costs.

Takes a long time to build

Web Services focuses first on maintaining the Campus Web, which includes sites with a direct impact on student success. Custom site work is scheduled as capacity allows.

The average timeline for a fully custom site is six months. (For comparison, standard websites are built within several weeks, depending on complexity.) Custom sites also require significant staff resources of the requesting department including analysis of goals and audience, content production, and design feedback.

Difficult to update

Breaking the standard framework means breaking the Cascade user interface that makes content updates easy for campus site maintainers. Custom sites require either specialized training for your department or signing up for the Web Services update service.

Quickly becomes out of date

The Campus Web is continually maintained and updated by Web Services—and we come up with new tweaks and upgrades all the time. We make sure the Cascade WCMS is current; the website design evolves based on user analytics; site elements conform to accessibility, security, and branding standards; and the framework meets user expectations as defined by research and testing. Custom sites sit outside the standard framework and do not benefit from these upgrades. They will need to be revamped every several years, at a additional cost to your department.

Does not include emergency banner options

Campus Web 3.0 sites include an emergency banner connected to the campus header. In the case of a campuswide emergency, this banner message appears at the top of every 3.0 page in the Campus Web. Custom sites do not have this feature.

When it is appropriate to use a custom site?

Custom site design is approved for the following situations:

  • Site serves an off-campus audience
  • Site does not provide essential campus services
  • Site functionality requirements can not be accommodated within the Cascade WCMS

How do I reflect the uniqueness of my program without a custom site?

Web Services has designers and front-end developers on staff who can help you create a unique look that also leverages the power of the university brand. Submit a Site Add-ons and Special Features ticket to Web Services or see our Custom Element page to learn more.

How do I request a custom site?

All custom site requests and significant visual departures from the standard framework are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Web Content Review Committee. Approved deviations from the Campus Web framework are rare and granted most often for sites that serve external (non-student, staff, or faculty) audiences or rely on vendor-provided interfaces with little room for customization. These sites and apps must still meet legal and campus requirements. To request a custom site or visual assets for non-Cascade sites or web apps, please submit an Other Website Services ticket.

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Article ID: 70075
Fri 1/11/19 4:07 PM
Tue 7/27/21 2:55 PM