Ivan Allen College Web Design Requirements for Developers

Last Updated: Thursday May 4th, 2023

The following document is a summary of many federal, state, University System of Georgia, and Georgia Tech web design and development laws and policies that all projects must follow.  We have included technical requirements set by the Ivan Allen College Information Technology unit to help ensure that all new website and web application projects will run properly on our available hosting environments.

There is a separate Design Requirements for Editors document that you should review if you are in charge of creating and/or updating the content on any website within the college, its schools or project centers.

This document is in no way an exhaustive list of all possible laws and policy requirements, but rather attempts to bring the most important points together in one place.  It is your responsibility to review all applicable policies and laws and make sure your work is in compliance with them.  A list of known legal and policy references is provided at the end of this document.

Questions about this document may be directed to the IAC web developer.

Ivan Allen College Technical Design Requirements

Website Hosting

All Ivan Allen College (IAC) websites and web applications will be hosted on Georgia Tech hosting services.  For custom website design and web applications, this can be one of the following:

  • An IAC virtual hosting account on one of the IAC CPanel servers
  • An IAC virtual machine
  • An Office of Information Technology (OIT) Web Hosting Account on an OIT Plesk server

Please contact the IAC web developer to have the appropriate hosting space provisioned for your project.  Developers should not directly request OIT hosting space, as we want to have any new OIT Web Hosting accounts set up with full access for the IAC technical staff and the unit project stakeholders.

Caveats for Using an OIT Web Hosting Account

Although OIT Web Hosting allows for the installation of Drupal, WordPress, and many other common web applications, the account configuration is not very extensible, and SSH access to these accounts is within a fairly restrictive "chroot jail".  In particular, be aware that:

  • No additional PHP plugins can be installed beyond the ones that come pre-installed for a hosting account.
  • PHP cannot be run from the SSH command line
  • Very few additional command-line tools can be installed (only pre-compiled x86-64 binaries that are either statically linked or only utilize already available libraries can be used).
  • For Drupal sites, the popular 'Drush' tool for Drupal is not available and cannot be installed.
  • Git and Composer can be used through the Plesk Site Control Panel, but not from the command line.

If you need these additional features, you will need to request an IAC virtual hosting account or an IAC virtual machine.

Minimum Server Software Versions

All new websites and web applications should be built to work with the following minimum specifications:

  • Operating System:  Ubuntu 22.04 (RHEL 7 for OIT Web Hosting accounts)
  • Web Server:  Apache 2.4.52
  • Database:  mySQL 8 / MariaDB 10.3
  • PHP:  8.1 (with strong preference towards PHP 8.2 compatibility)

Minimum Content Management System Versions

If a new website is being developed in Drupal, it should be built using Drupal 10, ideally using the college's distribution.  Contact the IAC web developer to get access to this distribution or have it installed in a web hosting space.  Please be aware that the college cannot provide technical support for Drupal sites that are not specifically for units of the college (schools, programs, project centers, etc.) or a special project at the college / Dean's Office level.  For all other Drupal sites, the site owner must be able to do technical support involving the application of patches as they come out, which usually requires a skilled web developer / web application administrator.  For this reason, we strongly recommend WordPress for sites not eligible for college-level technical support.

If a new website is being developed in WordPress, strong consideration should be given to building it on the Sites @ Georgia Tech server.  If that server does not provide enough flexibility, there is also an IAC Unit WordPress server available (contact the IAC web developer to get access).  Both servers are multi-site "networks", but the IAC Unit WordPress server offers more flexibility for having additional plugins or themes added by the IAC system administrator.

A stand-alone WordPress site should only be used as a last resort, since every new stand-alone WordPress site adds to the maintenance workload for the IAC systems administrators.  If this becomes a necessity for a particular project, the latest version of WordPress should always be used (currently 6.2).

Please contact the IAC web developer if you are looking at implementing a site in any other content management system, as we have a strong preference for the use of either Drupal or WordPress if at all possible.

Browser Compatibility

All websites and web applications developed for the Ivan Allen College must be compatible with the latest versions of the following web browsers:

  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Google Chrome (Desktop and Android devices)
  • Apple Safari (Desktop and iOS devices)
  • Microsoft Edge

General Site Configuration

Please follow the guidelines below for all new websites and web applications, unless specifically directed to do otherwise:

  • Automatic user account creation should be disabled.
  • For WordPress sites, Users must be registered and logged in to comment should be enabled to avoid comment spamming (very prevalent these days with WordPress sites).
  • Standard page caching mechanisms should be enabled.
  • Standard CSS and JavaScript file aggregation should be enabled.
  • Visible back-end error messages should be disabled (errors should be logged to standard Apache error logs or application specific log files.
  • Logging to the database (particularly with Drupal sites) should be properly regulated to keep only a limited number of messages (no more than 1000).
  • Please clean out all test objects created with the site during development and remove any modules, plugins, or themes that were installed but not used.  In other words, please deliver a site that someone else can easily take over and manage.

Campus / College Service Integration Requirements

Single Sign On - Central Authentication Service (CAS)

Whenever possible, a new website or web application should be configured to work with Georgia Tech's CAS service, which will allow users to login using their GT Account Username campus computer account.  Connection details are given below:

  • Server:  sso.gatech.edu
  • URI:  /cas/
  • Port:  443

Please note that our CAS server will only authenticate sites and applications that have a domain name ending in ".gatech.edu".  If you are building your site on an off-campus server or personal computer, you can (for development purposes) modify your local 'hosts' file and assign a fake hostname like 'testing.gatech.edu' to your development computer so that you can test that CAS authentication is working correctly.

User Authorization and Additional Attributes

By default, our CAS service only provides authentication of a user, and doesn't tell you anything about the user, not even the user's email address.  If your project needs any details about a user based on his/her GT Account Username, we can arrange for access to either SAML attributes through CAS or to LDAP attributes, which can provide user role and authorization details.  Please contact the IAC web developer to request access, and be sure to specify exactly what user details your project needs to access and why.

News Feeds and Events Calendars

The Ivan Allen College utilizes the Georgia Tech Mercury (Hg) News and Events system, but we have our own modules for interacting with it.  If you are building a Drupal or WordPress site and want to include Mercury news and/or events feeds, please contact the IAC web developer for more information.


The Ivan Allen College runs its own in-house analytics system using the open-source Matomo (formerly Piwik) software.  If analytics are requested for the website you are building, please contact the IAC web developer for details on how to set up a Matomo analytics embed on your site.

We are enabling Google Analytics on websites on a limited basis to support the increased efforts on campus for better search engine optimization.  Currently we have onboarded all of the school websites, and can support other Ivan Allen College units.  Please do not set up your own personal Google account for collecting unit website analytics!  If you are interested in using Google Analytics, please contact the IAC web developer to have your unit onboarded to our central management system.

Institute Data and Money Collection and Privacy Policy

Please see the separate Data and Money Collection page for full details on policy requirements that must be followed when collecting personal information and/or money via online forms and services.

Ivan Allen College Visual Design Requirements

Institute Communications has published a required policy for Georgia Tech websites. The current branding policy can be found on the Communications website.

The following are some important key points derived from the official policy. It is not a substitute for the official policy, which you should read carefully before starting any new web development project.

Campus Branding Policy

The Institute's Brand Standards and Requirements should be followed with all websites representing a unit of Georgia Tech (college, school, project center, etc.)  For other types of websites, please consult with the IAC web developer for guidance on branding policy.

Please take note of the following item specifically taken from Brand Standards and Requirements:

No Custom Logos

Georgia Tech Units are not allowed to have their own logo images or slogans / taglines.  The only acceptable logo image is the official Georgia Tech logo or an approved combination logo.  You may not alter the combination logos provided to your unit in any way except to resize them or crop or add white space around the logo as neededPlease note that Georgia Tech is phasing out the use of combination logos on websites, so they should be avoided when designing any new websites, but can still be used for print projects (brochures, letterhead, etc.)

No Custom Slogans / Taglines

The Institute does not have an official tagline. Use of the Creating the Next tagline was discontinued with the visual identity refresh in September 2021. The Institute's motto, Progress and Service, which embodies Georgia Tech's mission to develop leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition, or the strategic plan tagline, Progress and Service for All, may be considered for use on communications where they appropriately complement or further the message.

Use Only Official Georgia Tech Theme Packages

Developers should utilize one of the official theme packages whenever possible and not attempt to reinvent the wheel.  The IAC web developer can provide you with any needed theme packages for your project, and will assist you in creating a new theme package if one is not available for a third party content system that your unit's stakeholders wish to use.

An official theme package will provide several components.  The Gold Georgia Tech Header Bar and Gold Georgia Tech Footer Bar are required for all websites and for any third party application where a custom theme is going to be created.  (If an application is going to be implemented out-of-the-box with no custom theming, then these two elements are optional, especially with proprietary third-party applications that may not let you modify the page layout.  If possible, though, please try to add the Gold Georgia Tech Footer Bar to help identify the instance of the application as being run by Georgia Tech.)

Other components in the official theme package (Site Identity Bar and Menu Bar) are recommended but not required.  Please refer to the full theme specifications for details on what the minimal requirements are for these regions.

If you are building custom components for any part of your website's or web application's page output, you must separate that code from the official theme package.  Under no circumstances should you ever modify any official theme package or make use of any non-public internal component of the theme package.  This rule is to ensure that the core theme package can be centrally updated as needed without unduly breaking the website or application.

Build with Responsive Design

All websites and applications must implement responsive design so as to be usable on mobile devices (tablets, smart phones, etc.) as well as desktop computers.

Implement Section 508 Accessibility

All website and web application designs must adhere to federal section 508 accessibility requirements.  The following guides and tools should prove useful for ensuring proper compliance:

No Automatic Carousels / Slideshows Allowed

Automatic slideshows and carousels should not be used due to the inherent accessibility problems with them.  Unfortunately, most third-party slideshow systems are not compliant with accessibility requirements, but we do have a custom manual slideshow module for Drupal 9 that meets accessibility requirements.  If you wish to utilize this module, please contact the IAC web developer for more information.

Ivan Allen College Content Requirements

Please see the separate Web Content Requirements document for full details on content creation and editing requirements.

Additional Development Resources

The following resources are made available to on-campus developers and may prove useful in creating new websites and web applications for campus units. No guarantee is made that any of these resources are 100% accurate or up-to-date.