Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Requirements and Best Practices Checklist

Requirements and Best Practices Checklist http://www.howto.gov/web-content/requirements-and-best-practices/checklists/long http://www.howto.gov/web-content/requirements-and-best-practices/checklists/long

Requirements and Best Practices Checklist

The Federal Web Managers Council developed this “checklist” tohelp you assess how well your agency meets federal website requirements and follows government web best practices.
Click a topic below to skip to a specific section, or scroll down to see the entire list. 
Requirements (Must do)Best practices (Should do)
Site policies page
Common content
Social media
Managing content
Usability and design
Management and governance
Promote online services
Homepage link


Required links/iconsRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Include all required links/icons on your site, in compliance with relevant guidance. Required links include, but are not limited to: privacy policy, FOIA info, USA.gov
E-Government Act of 2002 (Sections 204 & 207)
OMB M-05-04, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites (PDF, 48 KB, 5 pages, December 2004)

Customer serviceRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Agencies must set service standards and use customer feedback to improve the customer experience. Agencies that provide significant services directly to the public are required to identify and survey their customers, establish service standards and track performance against those standards, and benchmark customer service performance against the best in business.

SearchRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Ensure your website includes a search function, to help the public easily locate government information.  Follow industry standard best practices to ensure your search function is as effective as possible. Write content in Plain Language, using the words of your customers, so they can easily find what they need when searching the web or your website
OMB M-05-04, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites (PDF, 48 KB, 5 pages, December 2004)
Plain Writing Act of 2010 (PDF, 153 KB, 3 pages, January 2010)

Plain Writing ActRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Requires the federal government [executive branch] to write all new publications, forms and publicly distributed documents in a “clear, concise, well-organized” manner.
Plain Writing Act of 2010 (PDF, 153 KB, 3 pages, January 2010)

Accessibility/Section 508Relevant law, regulation, or policy
Make online information and services fully available to individuals with disabilities; Conduct accessibility testing when making significant changes to your site, or before launching a new site
Designing sites to work well on mobile devices usually also improves overall accessibility
Implementing Section 508 (Section508.gov)

PrivacyRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Provide a link to your privacy policy on every page (can be included in your overall site policies); Conduct a privacy impact assessment of your website; Post a “Privacy Act Statement” that explains your legal authority for collecting personal data and how the data will be used; Translate privacy policies into a standardized machine-readable format
Be aware of and comply with all other existing laws and directives that address the need to protect the privacy of the American people when they interact with their government online

Identity ManagementRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Allow the public and business partners to register or log on to Assurance Level 1 systems using externally-issued credentials
Requirements for Accepting Externally-Issued Identity Credentials - memo from Federal CIO to Executive Branch Agency CIOs (PDF, 166 KB, 4 pages, October 2011) 

FOIARelevant law, regulation, or policy
Your website must have a page that includes certain content as required by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (PDF, 109 KB, 13 pages, April 2007)

Open Government DirectiveRelevant law, regulation, or policy
In the spirit of transparency, participation and collaboration, agencies are directed to:
  • Publish government information online;
  • Improve the quality of government information;
  • Create and institutionalize a culture of open government; and
  • Create an enabling policy framework for open government
OMB M-10-06, Open Government Directive(PDF, 81 KB, 11 pages, December 2009)

Naming and brandingRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Host the website on a .gov, .fed.us, or .mil domain; Clearly display the name of your agency on every page on the website
OMB M-05-04, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites (PDF, 48 KB, 5 pages, December 2004)

Prohibition on lobbyingRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Consult your agency’s legal staff for guidance to ensure that your site does not advertise for, or provide preferential treatment to, private individuals, firms, or corporations. Follow the "rule of 3" - when linking to non-government information, show at least three similar examples, to avoid the appearance of endorsing a single source, service or product
Prohibition of Lobbying (Title 18, Section 1913, U.S. Code)

LinkingRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Publish your policy describing how and why you link to other websites, including criteria or guidelines for how your agency selects links to non-federal websites;
Publish and follow a schedule for reviewing the appropriateness and relevancy of external links
Notify visitors when a link on your website will take them to a non-federal-government website, include a disclaimer about content and privacy policies; Refrain from disclaiming content when linking to other federal sites, since to the public, all agencies are part of “the government”
OMB M-05-04, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites (PDF, 48 KB, 5 pages, December 2004)

Web recordsRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Comply with existing laws and regulations related to the management of public web records.
Create an inventory of content that targeted audiences need or want. Identify categories of information (e.g., press releases or publications), not specific documents. Post the inventory, priorities, and schedule for posting additional content on the website for comment.
Regularly delete or archive content that is obsolete and is not required by law or regulation.

CopyrightRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Inform the public about your policies on digital rights, copyrights, trademarks, and patents. If your organization uses or duplicates private sector information, ensure that the property rights of the private sector source are adequately protected. (These protections apply to any material posted to federal public websites, such as documents, graphics, or audio files.)
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (PDF, 277.66 KB, 60 pgs, January 1999)
U.S. Trademark Law (PDF, 1.48 MB, 260 pgs, March 2010)

Paperwork Reduction ActRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Ensure that information collected from the public minimizes burden and maximizes public utility. Your agency must have OMB approval before collecting information from the public (surveys, forms, etc.), and you much include the OMB control number on the collection. Take advantage of OMB's Fast-Track PRA Review Process to help you collect information in a timely manner
Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.)

SecurityRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Organizations are required to have security protocols in place to protect government information. Provide general information to the public about your security protocols to protect information on your website.
Guidelines on Securing Public Web Servers (Source: NIST; PDF, 2.13 MB, 142 pages, Sept 2002)

Information qualityRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Your site must comply with section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001, Public Law 106-554, to ensure the information you present on your website is current, accurate and authoritative 

Multilingual websitesRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Comply with the requirements of Executive Order 13166, “Improving Access to Services for People with Limited English Proficiency,” based on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination on the basis of national origin.
Federal Agency LEP Guidance (Dept. of Justice)

No Fear ActRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Provide a link to information required by the “No Fear Act.”
The Federal Web Managers Council recommends that agencies determine the most appropriate placement for this link based on their audience (e.g., “About Us” or “Jobs” page)

GPEARelevant law, regulation, or policy
The Government Paperwork Elimination Act requires that, when practicable, federal organizations use electronic forms, electronic filing, and electronic signatures to conduct official business with the public, by 2003. Put as many of your services online as you can

GPRARelevant law, regulation, or policy
The Government Performance Results Act of 2003 requires organizations to make their annual performance plans readily available to the public.

Small Business Paperwork Relief ActRelevant law, regulation, or policy
Designate a single point of contact for small businesses, and to post the contact information on the organization’s website.
Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002

Best Practices

Site policies pageGuidance
Create a page entitled “Site Policies” that includes links to required information and important policies.
Posting website policies

Common contentGuidance
Include the same types of “common content” found on most federal websites (such as contact information and basic information about your agency). Use terminology consistent with other agencies, and within your agency.  Write content using the words of your customers.
Includes "About Us" and "Contact Us" pages, as well as a Site Map or A-Z Index

Social MediaGuidance
Engage with the public via social media.

Design your site with mobile users in mind, and test your site on mobile browsers to ensure the public can access your information on the go.
Deliver content to mobile devices

Managing contentGuidance
Regularly review your content (at least annually, and more often for popular content), and update or archive as appropriate.
Ensure content is written for the web, using words familiar to the intended audience, so people can easily find what they need (usually via search), and understand what they need to do

Usability and DesignGuidance
Follow the “Research-based Web Design and Usability Guidelines” published by the Department of Health and Human Services
Do regular user testing on your site with real customers, to ensure they can easily and successfully complete their tasks. Design and develop your site for a broad range of visitors and browsers, including mobile devices and those with lower-end hardware and software capabilities
Implement a coherent information architecture (IA) and navigation scheme (including common labels), and use it consistently throughout your site

Collaborate both within your agency and across government to link to the official source for information.  Avoid creating duplicate content - stay in your “content lane.”
Collaborate internally, to make sure all content across your site describes programs, etc. in the same way. Post “program descriptions” in one central place and link there, instead of reposting the same description in several places.
Consult with the Federal Web Managers Council before creating a new portal site.

Management and governanceGuidance
Document and enforce your agency’s web content policies, procedures and style guide.
Regulary (at least annually) review and improve your site policies and procedures, in accordance with the latest government requirements and industry best practices for managing websites and content.
Develop and test procedures and continengency plans to keep your website running during an emergency, or take your website offline.

Collect metrics on: customer focus and experience; quality and compliance; and recognition, in accordance with privacy and other policies.
Make changes to your website based on data, not opinion or "executive whimsy"

Promote online servicesGuidance
Offer easy access to online services, displaying them as prominently as possible, to help the public interact with the government on their terms, and serve themselves at their convenience.
Identify the most commonly requested and commonly used online services, forms and publications on your website and make sure can be easily found
Allow the public to print forms, and also complete and submit them online; provide instructions on how to order forms or publications if they can’t be accessed online 

Homepage linkGuidance
Every page on your site should have a text link back to your homepage (if you use a graphical link, you must also provide a text link).
Linking back to your homepage

Offer information about jobs or careers at your agency, even if you are a small agency or your site is managed by multiple agencies.

Provide information about grant and contracting opportunities on your website.
Link to grants.gov and any other federal portal(s) related to grants
Link to fedbizopps.gov and any other federal portal(s) related to contracts.
The President’s Management Agenda of 2001 made this a priority (PDF, 633 KB, 64 pages, August 2001)

Provide information about regulations, notices and rules:
Posting information about regulations

1 comment:

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