Vendor Requirements and Maintenance Guidelines
Current GSD faculty, staff, and student groups must request permission to create a GSD-branded subsite. If this request is approved, site owners are encouraged to use the GSD Site Builder platform to create their site.
GSD Site Builder was developed so qualifying community members could create a GSD subsite with minimal assistance from developers. The platform is built using a WordPress multi-site framework and the Gutenberg editor. It offers a range of unique blocks to present content; however, as with all site builders, there are limitations to the platform and some sites may need to be customized for specific design or functionality requirements.
In most cases, customization will require a third-party vendor. Vendors that are contracted to work on a subsite in the GSD Site Builder platform will be expected to work within the guidelines set forth in this document.
Site Set Up & Hosting
- The vendor will provide the GSD web staff and site owners with a project plan, a timeline and an overview of the updates that will be made to the site. This must include any plans to purchase or develop custom plugins and/or themes. These documents will be reviewed by the GSD web staff for security and accessibility considerations.
- All plugins and/or themes installed on a GSD server must go through an evaluation process by the GSD web staff to ensure the security, good reputation of the 3rd party developer, and long-term support of such code. In the case of redundant functionality, the GSD web staff may recommend your project use a plugin that has already been approved.
- The GSD web staff will spin up a new subsite within the GSD Site Builder platform, and will provide the vendor with access to it. The site will be password protected behind Harvard Key until it is ready to go live.
- The GSD web staff will purchase and maintain the domain for the subsite.
- The GSD web staff will set up a Google Analytics account for the subsite.
- The subsite will be hosted on a GSD-managed server.
- The vendor will update the GSD’s Subsite Wiki with technical details when the project is complete. Additional documentation may be requested depending on the level of customization that was carried out.
- In order to get a Harvard Key account, the vendor must be sponsored by the site owner as a Person of Interest (POI).
- The vendor must adhere to WordPress best practices, the GSD’s Digital Governance Policy and Harvard University’s Security Policies and Harvard University’s Digital Accessibility Policy.
The GSD web staff will be responsible for keeping WordPress and “required plugins” up to date. The platform’s required plugins are listed in the Platform Plugins page on this site, which will be updated as needed.
Required plugins are required on all subsites and should not be removed by the vendor.
If the vendor has customized any code or added any plugins to the site, they will need to provide a maintenance retainer that covers:
- Updating the plugins they have added. Please read the GSD’s plugin guidelines for more information.
- Fixing bugs that arise from WordPress or plugin updates, including any bugs that crop up in “required plugins.”
- Updating the Subsite Wiki with technical details, as needed.
If you hire a vendor strictly for content entry and layout services, and they do not change any code or add any plugins, then the vendor will not have to provide a maintenance retainer. If you believe this situation applies to you, you must confirm it with the GSD web staff. You may choose to keep the vendor on retainer if you want them to continue their services after launch, however if they make any changes to code or plugins in the future, they will be required to provide a maintenance retainer at that point. As long as the vendor is retained for content entry and layout services, the GSD web staff will need to stay informed of their contact details.