Base Template and Homepage Policy

Base Template and Homepage Policy Adopted by City of St. Louis Website Policy Committee

1. Purpose

The official website of the City of St. Louis is a large municipal website and has a wide variety of content created by many contributors.

The Base Template and Homepage Policy establishes the standards and practices for a unified web presence that applies a consistent methodology to categorize, prioritize, and display information.

2. Scope

A base template provides a consistent framework for navigation and unifies the appearance of diverse content. Its unified look incorporates prevailing design conventions, standards,  and best practices for usability, accessibility, and  navigation

3. Background

The first generation of the City of St. Louis website was established in 1995 as a Community Information Network and content was created in collaboration with community stakeholders and City government offices.  The site grew organically over the years and due to its decentralized approach the City was unable to enforce shared standards across all contributors.  Although much useful content was created,  it became increasingly difficult to find information, and presented in an organized fashion.

The City of St. Louis acquired a Content Management Solution as a strategy to establishes a shared standard for the City of St. Louis website presence.

4. Definitions

Base Template - the file that establishes the design and style standards used by a website content management system.

Landing Page - it is the page a user finds when clicking on a main topic that links users to a broad range of related resources..

Navigation - the means by which a visitor can navigate the content of a website.

5. Legislation

Not applicable.

6. Policy

6.1 City website base template policy

6.1.1 It is the policy of the City of St. Louis that its official website design and navigation framework is determined by the base-template.

6.1.2  The base template policy operates within the City website technology protocol standard.

6.1.3  The ITSA is responsible for the development, management, and maintenance of the base template.

6.1.4  Procedure for changes to the base-template are outlined in the Procedure section 7.2 and 7.3

6.2  Base Template Elements and Criteria

The elements in the base template collectively form the global navigation of the site and are included to improve the ability of public users to get things done on the website.

The global navigation is persistent in nature to ensure a uniform navigation experience and help orient users and provides access to main content sections or services.  

Each element of the global navigation outlined below describes its purpose, lists the design elements included, and the criteria for inclusion.

6.2.1  Header

The purpose of the header is very important.  It is the first thing visitors see and must communicate the site's purpose quickly and clearly.  A government website must  reach the broadest possible audience.


  • Alerts - a red row to appear on top of every page when active.
  • City Logo - upper left corner of every page
  • Search - upper right corner of every page
  • Usability and Accessibility Tools - Upper right corner below search box

Criteria for inclusion:

  • Shows the City of St. Louis name and / or logo in a reasonable size and location
  • Enables access to the entire site content to the broadest audience
  • Meets emergency  preparedness criteria.

6.2.2  Horizontal Navigation

It appears on every page on the site. It functions similar to supermarket signage—it helps to orient users to their surroundings.


  • Located directly below the site header and links to approved themed landing pages

  •  Links to themed content landing pages

  • Approved themes are: Services, Government, Business, Live & Work, Visit & Play, News & Media - Investor Relations is pending.

Criteria for Inclusion:

  • Appears on every page on the site
  • Links to landing pages that provide access to a broad range of related content.
  • Content on each section landing page is created by any office, agency, department, and division.

6.2.3  Popular Links

Lists most frequently accessed web pages determined by visitors requests.


  • Collection of links of most visited pages

Criteria for Inclusion:

  • Ranks among top 15 pages on Google analytics for


6.2.4  Browse by Topic and Audience

Links to content classified under the website Information Architecture plan.  Modifications to Information Architecture Plan is defined by the Information Architecture Governance Team (IAGT).


  • Organizes content pages by the "Topics" and "Audience" vocabulary of the adopted Information Architecture Plan for

Criteria for inclusion:  

  • Terms must be listed in the Information Architecture plan. 
  • Pages must be tagged by the topic or audience.

6.2.5  Events 

Lists timely community events and public meetings.


  • Lists most current events created using the custom calendar elements
  • Events submitted by registered contributors and well as public contributors are listed.

Criteria for inclusion:  

  • Most current events submitted by contributors
  • Most current approved events submitted by the public

6.2.6  Spotlight Articles

Used to highlight breaking news, initiatives, activities and represents the approved method for information to be featured on the homepage.


  • Uses the News and Announcements element and "landing page inclusion" request.

Criteria for inclusion:  

  • News item conform to landing page link policy
  • Members of "Landing pages approver group" approves news item

6.2.7  Footer

Provides collection of links to all global navigation elements, terms of use, and high-priority tasks.


  • Terms of use links - to be positioned in first (far-left) column
  • Site-wide navigation links - to be positioned in second column
  • Action-oriented links - to be positioned in third column
  • City of St. Louis contacts - to appear in fourth (far-right) column

Criteria for inclusion:  

  • Is an element represented in the global navigation
  • Terms of use of website

7. Procedure

7.1  Roles & Responsibilities

  1. The Information Technology Services Agency (ITSA) is responsible for the base template development, administration, and maintenance.
  2. The Website Policy Committee's role is to adopt policies and procedures to evaluate change requests to the base template.
  3.  Appointing Authorities, Department Directors, Office holders are responsible for submitting requests for changes to ITSA.

7.2 Modifying or Changing the Base Template and Homepage

All change requests to the base template and website homepage must be accompanied by a valid business justification, change requests are subject to review by the Website Policy Committee, and ITSA retains the right to make a final determination on changes and provides explanation for the decision.

7.3 Making Changes to Procedure that Approves or Denies Request

  1. Request is included in agenda and distributed to Website Policy Committee ahead of meeting.
  2. The Website Policy Committee reviews base template elements and criteria for inclusion.
  3. When a request is found to have merit, the Website Policy Committee makes its recommendation to the ITSA.
  4. ITSA reviews recommendation, determines course of action, and communicates back to the Website Policy Committee.

7.4  Related documentation to be read in conjunction with this policy:


8. Verification / Authorization / Approved by

Website Policy Committee, adopted on 7/7/2011.


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