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What do I need to know about working with a vendor on my Stanford website?

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

There may be times when it’s necessary to hire a third-party vendor to consult on the design or development of your website. If your project has complex requirements that can’t be met by the common suite of Stanford tools, including sophisticated web applications, data visualizations, or other complex user interactions, or you have a short timeline and a large scope that cannot be met by resources at Stanford, you may need to work with a qualified vendor.

To ensure a successful website launch, follow these tips when working with third-party vendors.

How to hire a vendor

Define your project requirements. Be sure to include information about Stanford’s digital accessibility requirements. Review the Office of Digital Accessibility's vendor documentation checklist.

Issue a request for proposal (RFP) to qualified vendors. Selecting a vendor that is already approved for Stanford University will result in a faster purchase order process. Work with Procurement to process the contract.

Need help with this process? Stanford Web Services can share free sample RFPs and project requirements or a list of qualified and approved vendors, or we offer a vendor selection and liaison service.

How to select hosting

Stanford offers a variety of website hosting options. Explore these hosting options and see what University IT (UIT) recommends based on different website needs.

Your Stanford website does not necessarily have to reside on a Stanford-supported server. However, it’s important to note that Stanford Web Services typically does not provide assistance for third-party services or vendor-built websites.

Be careful to select website hosting that is appropriate for the risk classification of your content.

Need help with this process? Stanford Web Services offers a website project strategy service, and Technology Consulting Group can assist with considering cloud-based solutions for medium and high risk data.

Tip: The university’s preferred content management system is Stanford Sites Drupal, which is a free Stanford-managed platform for low and moderate risk data. Vendors can be granted content editing access to websites but cannot access the servers, upload files, or add custom themes and modules. If your project requires this level of access, you can use the free Stanford Domains for small websites or request fee-based Acquia custom Drupal hosting or other externally-managed services.

How to sponsor a SUNet ID to your vendor

Typically, a vendor needs a base account (SUNet ID, no email) to access and manage Stanford-hosted websites. Faculty, managers and individuals who have been granted the privilege to sponsor: Log in to Sponsorship Manager and then follow the online instructions for sponsoring a person or a shared email account. Learn more about Sponsorship Manager.

Things to remember

  1. Your contract with a vendor for custom website design and development should include support for ongoing post-launch support, unless you plan to manage this internally or if the website is built on a SaaS, like Squarespace or Wix. CMS-based websites need regular security maintenance to remain secure and in compliance with Stanford’s minimum security standards.
  2. Please make sure that the website complies with the following university policies:

For these reasons, we strongly suggest reviewing the hosting and site-building options available at Stanford before using a third-party service (i.e. Squarespace, GoDaddy, Wix, etc), because Stanford-provided options typically address the above policies from the start. Questions regarding third-party web applications and services should be redirected to their respective support team.

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