Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some of the most common questions we receive regarding building and maintaining a website in the YSM system.  Of course, if you have other questions not covered here, please contact us.

Template Questions

In 2012, the school introduced a YSM-branded lab website template in its content management system into which we are transitioning all lab websites. All lab websites will be transitioned into the school's official template and web space will no longer be available for custom-designed sites.

The primary drivers behind this policy is two-fold:

  1. The school has been rolling out a new branding initiative over the past year and is eager to move all public facing websites into the brand as part of Yale School of Medicine's identity.
  2. The school has invested heavily in its web systems over the past five years to create a suite of web applications and services tailored to the YSM community, including a faculty profile system, clinical trials system, calendar, news system, resource scheduler, etc. (you can read more here). By building sites within the school's systems, YSM is better able to capitalize on its investment and provide YSM faculty and organizations better support.

By moving to a branded template, the school is providing a supported platform that enables faculty to create a professional-looking website that we hope will have a positive impact on recruitment and reputation.

The distinction between the lab websites in the school's lab template, aside from the color options, will be content, both written and multimedia. The lab templates offer a wide variety of content templates. By fully utilizing videos, podcasts, beautiful imagery (microscopy, etc.), and well-written content, each faculty member will have the opportunity to create a fully customized experience for their web visitors. We hope that by focusing resources on generating excellent content and letting the school fund the website's design and functionality, faculty we will be able to create outstanding websites that better meet their recruitment and grant proposal needs.

You should contact the Office of Institutional Planning & Communications. The template is in a content management system, and we'll go through the steps and cost of building the site in an initial meeting with you. Read more here...

The template uses the YSM content management system. When your new website is built, we'll ask you to identify a person in your group who will be responsible for updating the website. This person will be provided training and support. He/she will edit the website using a web browser (like Firefox or Internet Explorer)- not any separate software (like Dreamweaver or Frontpage) that has to be installed or purchased.

There are a few color options available within the content management system templates, but you cannot select colors outside of the pre-existing template. These colors have been specifically chosen to work in concert with each other, and to provide a usable backdrop template that highlights the imagery and written content, rather than overpowering them. Using colors outside of the available template would dilute the YSM brand, confusing the user. Branding, and that includes colors, has to be consistent: you’ve never seen a blue and yellow Dunkin’ Donuts sign or a purple and green UPS truck.

No. The width of the columns is programmed as a standard across all sites in the content management system and is managed and maintained by the Office of Institutional Planning & Communications.

Navigation Questions

This depends upon the character length of all the names. The character limit of the horizontal navigation bar, including spaces, is approximately 100 characters.

This list of links in the navigation bar should not wrap around to a second line. These links will remain on every single page of your site, and therefore, should direct to the most important and general information you have to offer. For example, select "Programs" as a link rather than "ABC Program" and "XYZ Program." Then, when a user clicks on the "Programs" link, a list of available programs shows up in the left-hand navigation. Read more here...

Putting links to outside websites on the main horizontal navigation or left-column navigation will confuse your user, who is expecting main links to be within your own site. We recommend placing outside links on a "Related links" or "Resources" page, or describing what they are within text.
The links in the "YSM topper" have been chosen because they are the three missions of the School (Education, Research, and Patient Care), along with the most commonly used links on the YSM website. Read more here...
“Calendar,” "Contact Us," "Yale phonebook," and "YSM Home" are required. Other optional items you might want to use are “Maps & Directions," "Room Reservations," "Careers," and “Intranet.” Please also note that all of these except the Yale Phonebook and YSM Home are customizable. To request changes to the items in your site’s toolbox, email
This template belongs to the School of Medicine, and therefore, the band at the top should say "Yale School of Medicine." Visit this page to learn more about what is mandatory in the top navigation. If you feel you should not be using this banner, please contact the Web Group so we can determine how to help you.

Image Questions

The image banner is to be filled with just one or part of one "action" photograph or microscopic photograph (microscopy). Group photographs, collages, graphic design images, screen captures, and illustrations are excluded from display in the home page banner. In addition, the crop of the photo helps define the brand. The Web Group recommends that you work with us at least initially to fill this spot. Once you get the hang of it, you'll find the odd shape makes for spectacular images. In addition, the image can change when your user visits the site, creating variety and showing the different kinds of work your organization accomplishes.

The YSM Web Group can periodically help with new photographs for your home page banner area. If your section or department hasn't had a photo shoot in more than two years, we can schedule one with you. If you would like to see if some photographs from recent shoots might be appropriate for your site, email with specific requests. 

Putting new home page banners on your website is tricky, so the YSM Web Group will take care of this for you, whether the images are your own high-quality photographs or those taken by the Web Group photography team. 

If you need more than ten images uploaded to your home page more often than once a quarter, you will need to sign up for a "Web Editing Service" with a cost associated with your needs.

Logos can be placed within the main text column or the right-hand text column. The footer, left column, and header areas are all pre-defined and should not include any additional images; only the text should be altered. In addition, the School of Medicine shield should not be used in any logo design. For questions about shield design, please contact the Office of the University Printer. In addition, Yale has developed new branding guidelines, and you can learn more about that here.
  • If a faculty or staff member has not added a photo to his or her profile, the photo will thus not appear when published on your site. For instructions on faculty profiles, please visit this section.
  • If you have recently added a faculty or staff photo and it is still not appearing on your site, remember that it takes at least 24 hours for changes in the faculty profile system to occur on your site. This is particularly true for photo additions, as these photos are reviewed and approved individually. 
  • In the Faculty Directory component, "Show Thumbnails" must be selected for photos to display.

Miscellaneous Questions

Yes, you can have a vanity URL that points to the address. We will order Yale vanity URLs for you as part of the website building process. All requests are approved through YSM-IPC. If you would like to discuss your organization's URL, please contact us.

There are several reasons why a search engine like Google may not populate results for your site or list these results higher in the search.

  • First, if your site is new, it will take between 24 and 48 hours for the new URL to ‘propagate’ throughout the Internet. What this basically means is that while your site exists, the servers that route traffic across the Internet don’t know about it yet. Once that process is complete, search engines will then need to ‘crawl’ your site in order to add it to their list of possible results. This process can take another 24-48 hours.  So in short, you should wait at least a week before you become concerned.
  • Second, if you have had a site for some extended period of time, it needs to be optimized for it to turn up in the results a user gets when they search for information. You should think about what kinds of questions a user might be asking so that you can tailor your site’s content in a way that will increase its relevance in a search result. We have an excellent article on just this particular point. 
  • Finally, while search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is important to keep in mind when designing and writing your site, there's only so much you can do to influence how sites like Google populate results. You cannot "trick" Google into producing certain results through text changes alone. Google’s famous algorithm includes what sites are referring to yours as a gauge for how relevant a site may be for a particular search. You might think of it as an old-fashioned high school popularity contest. The more friends you have, the more popular you are.

    In addition, having popular friends of your own only increases the weight of your own popularity. (By virtue of having in your URL, you’re already considered popular!) The more users that are directed to your site through links, and the more highly ranked those referring sites are, the more likely your site will rise to the top. This process takes time and legwork to develop those linking partnerships. 

In summary, make sure your content fits what users are looking for and increase partnerships with other relevant sites (both inside and outside the Yale domain).

Changes to these lists must be done to the organization's membership list within the faculty profile system ( Remember, changes done in this system can take up to 24 hours to appear on your site. For specific instructions, please visit this section.