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Academic Website Design Standards

Colleges and schools may choose from the academic, administrative, or alternative designs for their websites; however, if using either of the latter two, the site must adhere to the guidelines associated with it. These standards also apply to any freestanding academic department sites that could function, or be construed as, the sole entry point for a prospective student.

Sites using the academic website design must follow the general University Design & Branding Standards for digital media, Global Website Design Standards (with optional exceptions noted) and the additional requirements provided below.

Global Exceptions

All exceptions to the global standards must be reviewed and approved by University Communications before being implemented.


Colleges and schools may deviate from the standard font requirements, if consistently used site-wide, by choosing one of the following combinations:

  • Futura for headings and Arial for body copy (default) or
  • Miller Display for headings and Miller Text for body copy


Academic sites may use different color combinations for headers, menus, and navigational elements as long as they are consistently used site-wide and have been reviewed and approved by the Office of University Communications. Color deviations must still adhere to the official University expanded color palette provided on Colors for Digital Media.

Header Requirements

Sites following academic design standards must use the lockup header, which replaces the default title bar used for administrative sites with the college or school's official primary logotype. Using the formal or informal versions of the logotype must be approved by University Communications and is only allowed in rare circumstances.


Lockup images must be floated left (in the header area) above the main menu bar and follow the guidelines for Logotypes for Digital Media; including rules for file type, color combinations, dimensions, spacing, and decorative effects.

Navigation Requirements

College and school websites are required to include an "Academics" and an "Admissions" section in their main menu bar navigation. The Academics section is required to appear first and include pages describing the college's academic offerings. The Admissions section is required to appear second and must include an "Apply" or "Apply Now" page and may also include admissions criteria, frequently asked questions, and/or undergraduate-, graduate-, and transfer-student-specific audiences pages.

"Apply" or "Apply Now" links are not permitted in the utility links or the main menu bar navigation. "Apply" Call-to-Action Sidebars or Quick Links may be included on Admissions, or any other, pages.

As defined by the global standards, if an About section exists, it should be labeled "About" (not, "About Us") and should always be the last item in the main menu bar.

Background Options

Colleges and schools have multiple background options for home pages, section pages, and basic pages. These include:

  • standard blue, grey, brown, or green pre-set designs,
  • solid color with no image,
  • custom images restricted to the header area*, or
  • full-bleed** custom images or video.

*Background images included in the header should seamlessly blend into the surrounding background color and not be cropped with hard edges.

**File sizes and page loading times may influence or restrict design specifications and implementation.

Designers, including external contractors, creating any custom background designs should contact the Web Services team for consultation and specifications before and throughout the creative process. Drexel's general Design & Branding Standards, specifically the use of colors and logotypes, should provide guidance; design concepts should be implemented consistently site-wide with a holistic approach.

All custom designs for background presentations must be approved by University Communications.