Policies for APA-supported division websites
APA is pleased to partner with divisions to support their websites on APADivisions.org and share their excellent work and exciting initiatives with the world. To ensure that these APA-supported division websites align with best practices and provide the best user experience, APA has policies regarding circumstances when divisions must not maintain independent websites and when the division may want to support outside sites.
Policies regarding duplicate division websites
APA requires that divisions with APA-hosted websites maintain only that site as the official, division-wide web presence. Official division sites that are not hosted by APA, also referred to by APA as independent websites, outside sites or duplicate sites, repeat information that is displayed on the division's APA-hosted website and are branded such that they appear to web users to be an official, online presence representing the whole of the division. If the division decides to support its own independent site, then APA will discontinue its support for the division's APA-hosted website.
APA makes this requirement because having duplicate websites does not align with best web practices. Duplicate division websites, one hosted by APA and another hosted outside of APA, negatively impact the search engine optimization (SEO) of both websites. That is, rather than having one canonical site that Google and other search engines can point to for the most accurate and relevant information related to the division, duplicate sites compete with each other for attention and relevance in search engine results, thus bringing down the SEO of both sites and making them both harder for users to find.
When users do discover duplicate websites, they are often confused because they are unsure as to which website is the official representation of the division and displays the most accurate information. Duplicate websites can quickly become contradictory, as one site may be more frequently updated than another, so users will be unclear as to which site provides correct information. Because the sites will be confusing to web visitors, they will be more likely to view the division as a whole as unprofessional and as an untrustworthy source of information.
If the division decides to maintain an independent website not supported by APA that serves the purpose of reflecting the division as a whole, then the division must notify APA's divisions web content specialists via email within 30 days of the launch of the independent website. APA's divisions web content specialists will then begin the process of taking down the division's APA-supported website. They will also provide the data from the division's APA-supported website to the appropriate representative within the division, usually by mailing a CD or flash drive to the mailing address indicated by the division.
If the division maintains an independent website that serves the purpose of an official, online presence for the division and that duplicates the content of the APA-supported division website but does not notify APA, APA staff may still discover the outside, independent website. If they do so, they will contact the division to determine whether an outside site or APA-supported site is the best method for the division to represent itself online.
Instances when independent division websites are permitted
While APA does not allow divisions to maintain duplicate websites that represent the division as a whole, there are some limited instances in which the division may wish to support a web presence outside of its APA-hosted website. These instances are permissible if the website is limited in scope and message compared to the official division website. However, the content on these independent websites should not duplicate the content on the division's APA-hosted website, and the purpose of the outside website must only reflect specific needs met by that site. The independent website must also link to the division's APA-hosted website as the official website of the division. The division should also be aware that just as it is responsible for all content on its APA-hosted website, so too the division is responsible for all content on any independent websites.
Some instances when an independent division website is acceptable are:
- An event-specific website. The division may wish to set up a site on EventBrite or a similar platform to promote an event and collect registration information and fees from attendees.
- A website specific to a division sub-group. At this time, APA does not have the capacity to support websites for sub-groups within the division, such as sections, committees, task forces, special interest groups, etc. If these types of groups wish to maintain an independent website specific to their work within the division, they may do so.
- Blogs. At this time, APA does not offer division members to the ability to make short announcement-type updates to their official division websites and also does not offer web visitors the ability to comment on posts. Divisions looking to post announcements or foster online discussion spaces may maintain an independent blog.
- A website that provides capabilities not available on APA-hosted websites. At this time, APA does not offer capabilities for databases, forms, event management or archiving solutions on its APA-hosted sites. If the division requires any of these capabilities, it may set up an independent website to meet the needs provided by these services. (Please note that divisions wishing to fundraise online should contact APA's Division Services Office.)
Divisions with these types of independent websites should keep them limited to their specific purpose and should not use them to represent the division as a whole. Divisions wishing to share specific content from these types of independent websites should contact APA's divisions web content specialists about adding links to this content on their APA-hosted website.
Division newsletter websites
Some divisions with APA-hosted websites may wish to set up an independent website solely dedicated to their division newsletter. While this type of website, because it is limited in scope and represents only a publication of the division rather than the division as a whole, is permissible, APA advises divisions to think carefully before setting up an independent newsletter website if their newsletter is currently available on their APA-hosted website.
In the past, some divisions have maintained their newsletter on their APA-hosted website, then moved their newsletter to an independent website. After having their newsletter on an independent website, they have then decided to return to publishing their newsletter on their APA-hosted website. While APA is happy to publish division newsletters on the division websites, migrating many past issues of newsletter content from an independent website back to an APA-hosted website is a significant undertaking for APA's web staff and requires a lengthy amount of time.
For this reason, if a division wishes to move its newsletter from its APA-hosted website to an independent website, it cannot return to having its newsletter published on its APA-hosted website until after a period of three to five years, depending upon the volume of newsletter content.
Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and other similar pages are the responsibility of the division, as APA does not, at this time, have the resources to manage division social media presences. Social media pages and groups that represent and are run by the division will not be seen as conflicting with the division website, and APA is happy to link to and set up feeds for division social media pages on APA-supported division websites.
Divisions with social media pages should review and become familiar with APA’s social media/forum policy.