Policies and Principles

Make usability testing and 508 testing required PRIOR to launch

Launching sites without usability testing and 508 testing is a waste of time and money - it's always more expensive to fix these issues when left to the last minute. Rather, institutionalizing user testing (like GSA's First Fridays, for example) as well as 508 testing into the development cycle of government websites will result in better, more efficient and cheaper products .

Submitted by (@jonathanrubin)

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139 votes
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Content and Readability

PDFs cannot be preferred publishing methods

When it comes to content, the easiest thing for us to do as Federal agencies is publish a PDF. Some of the most informative documents on agency web sites are things like their strategic plans, their reports to Congress, their budget justifications, etc. Too often, in the interest of speed of publication, the pages with this type of information become document farms for 100+ page PDFs. These are information-rich documents ...more »

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Accessibility

Train web developers beyond Section 508

Some of the most important accessibility best practices are not required by Section 508. Logically ordered heading tags for example, or links with clear purpose (instead of "click here", "Read our August 2011 Newsletter"). It seems everyone simply adds ALT attributes to images and calls it a day. We need to train web developers and designers in more than basic Section 508 and ensure they understand accessibility beyond ...more »

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60 votes
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Accessibility

HTML5 and Semantic Content

Use semantic content and markup so that relevant content is easily found through search engines. Allow content managers to easily tag content for SEO, so that people can find the relevant information that are looking for.

 

Harness HTML5 in forms and use micro-formats when applicable. This would greatly improve the the experience for the growing amount of users on mobile devices.

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57 votes
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Policies and Principles

Need coordinated teams of specialists vs. too few generalists

One thing I hate to see is agencies where the people managing the web don't have adequate teams and support, and may need training themselves but are spread so thin that they are forced to be generalists instead of specialists. The web should be staffed adequately, and employ modern technology (content management systems, anyone?), not be an afterthought in communication, PR and/or IT staffing needs. Sure, we need ...more »

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Content and Readability

Avoid Adobe PDF, Flash, Office Docs! Use Only HTML Forms & Docs

Avoid the use of these proprietary formats which require external plugins and are usually never accessible. HTML is always the most accessible and universal format that works on all devices from Cell Phones to Kindles to iPads. HTML is open source and does not require expensive tools like Adobe Acrobat Professional or Flash to develop. HTML is indexable by search engines and makes it easier for the public to find the ...more »

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41 votes
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Social Media

Develop Social Media as a Customer Service Channel

Social Media has tremendous potential as a customer service channel and is being used effectively in the private sector. Greater attention should be paid to using social media to help the public find information they need. One model for this would be to empower and encourage all government employees to help point the public to government websites/ resources/ services as these issues are raised on the social media platforms ...more »

Submitted by (@andrewpwilson)

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39 votes
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Usability and Design

Usable with Any Browser

Some federal websites have been designed to work with specific browsers. Websites should be viewable and usable with any browser on any operating system. For example, one DOT website is only usable with Internet Explorer. Individuals who typically use Firefox or Chrome or any other browser are forced to download and use IE. Mac users are out of luck.

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33 votes
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Usability and Design

Build in accessibility during the visual design phase.

Graphic designers should work closely with accessibility /508 experts before implementing a design into a website. Some accessibility issues can be avoided or/and fixed early during the visual design phase. For example, some of the principals that should be considered to make a design accessible are: Color contrast, use of CAPS, font size, heading structure, reading order, form controls. A great related resource: http://webaim.org/resources/designers/#infographic ...more »

Submitted by (@maria.marrero)

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31 votes
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Policies and Principles

Accessibility Integration

Accessibility must be integrated into all aspects of online communication. From policy and training through design and implementation, the principle of equal access for people with disabilities must be recognized as a civil right that cannot be compromised.

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