Corporate web standards - guiding principles
There are three guiding principles behind the corporate web standards - corporate image, usability and accessibility. They are of equal importance and must be considered when producing any information that will appear on the web.
Hantsweb is the public face of Hampshire County Council on the web. When producing information to appear within Hantsweb we must ensure that we are providing a high quality, professional and reliable service to the public. By following the corporate web standards and the corporate image, usability and accessibility principles, we are also ensuring that we are achieving our goals as defined in the corporate strategy.
The corporate image assists the user in navigating the site and lends credibility to the origin and reliability of the information published. Importantly for any web site it provides a consistent and professional image.
A usable site supports its visitors in achieving their goals easily and efficiently and in doing so delivers the goals of Hampshire County Council. It inspires confidence in the site and visitors will be keen to return. In short: usability is absolutely critical to a web site's success.
Good usability can de defined as a product that is:
- Intuitive to use
- Efficient to use
- Easy to remember
- Enjoyable to use
Consistent in its behaviour
On a web site, this means designing an intuitive user interface and populating the site with content that is easy to find and simple to navigate.
There is no single style formula for ensuring usability, however ensuring consistency is an important factor which is why you must follow the corporate standards. To produce a successful site, feedback from 'real users' should be incorporated at every stage of your design process - planning, testing, revisions and updates.
First and foremost Hampshire County Council is a public service provider so we have to provide accessible information.
The Disability Discrimination Act has brought about new rights for disabled people. Employers and Service Providers must not discriminate against a person for a reason connected with their disability. They must also make reasonable adjustments to the way they offer their Services. Accessibility, however, is not just about ensuring disabled people can access information. It is also about ensuring that the wide variety of potential users and devices can all gain access to information, thereby maximising the audience and letting users experience the pages in the way they choose.
An accessible site is one that accommodates the full range of users. Designing for accessibility therefore means accepting that, for online information, there is:
- no standard information user, and,
no standard device for browsing information
An accessible site does not exclude anybody due to:
- their abilities or,
- the method they choose to access the web
Accessible sites prioritise clear content, structure and ease of navigation over frilly aspects of design, however they need not be visually unattractive, nor are they prevented from utilising the latest web technologies provided that all information is still accessible to users.
The COI web standards and guidelines insist that all government web sites, central or local, must comply with the W3C's guidelines on accessibility.
If you want to know more about the subjects of accessibility and usability there are a number of sites available to you, or contact the Hantsweb Team.