Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New Australian Government Web Publishing Guide

A new Web Publishing Guide has been released for Australian Government (ie: Commonwealth) agencies. This covers legal and policy requirements, as well as accessibility and some technical standards. This consolidates the content of a number of previously separate guides, without adding any new mandatory requirements.

The new guide practices what it preaches with a new clean, efficient XHTML and CSS standards based web site. There is minimal, but effective use of graphics on the web pages, such as the use of arrow icons to indicate external links and tick box icons for mandatory items.

However, some of the guidance is unclear. The accessibility page gives a good overview of issues with access to the web by the disabled. But while the page is marked as as "Mandatory" it does not state exactly which one of the three levels of compliance in the cited W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is required for government agencies. I would guess it is Level AA (Priority 2). However, in the absence of an explicit statement, some agencies may only meet the far less stringent Level A (Priority 1) of the standard or waste effort unnecessarily trying for Level AAA (Priority 3).

Topics covered:
  1. e-Government Policy
    1. e-Government Strategy 2006
    2. Access and Distribution Strategy 2006
  2. Planning
    1. Planning a Website
    2. Planning Site Retirement
    3. Developing a Business Case
    4. ICT Investment Framework
    5. Governance
    6. Domain Names - Naming Your Site
  3. Types of Sites
    1. Departmental Websites
    2. Ministerial Websites
    3. Intranets
    4. Transactional Websites
    5. Whole-of-Government Websites and Portals
  4. Users
    1. User Needs Analysis
    2. User Testing
    3. Policy Consultation
  5. Marketing
    1. Marketing and Advertising
    2. Service Charters
  6. Visual Design and Branding
    1. Branding
    2. Consistent User Experience
    3. National Symbols
  7. Legal Issues
    1. Copyright and Copyright Notices
    2. Disclaimers
    3. Freedom of Information
    4. Intellectual Property (IP)
    5. Privacy and Privacy Statements
  8. Managing Content
    1. Information Management
    2. Content Management
    3. Content Management System Selection
    4. Content Management System Implementation
  9. Types of Content
    1. Online Content Requirements
    2. Metadata (AGLS)
    3. File Lists
    4. Contracts Disclosure
    5. Spatial Data
  10. Accessibility and Equity
    1. Accessibility
    2. Assistive Technologies
    3. Alternate Formats and Media
  11. Technical Development
    1. Security and Authentication
    2. Information Architecture
    3. Navigation
    4. Search
    5. Forms
    6. Cookies
    7. RSS
  12. Archiving and Preservation
    1. Archiving
    2. Preserving Publications
  13. Maintaining and Evaluating
    1. Maintenance
    2. Consolidation and Closure
    3. Decommissioning
    4. Usage Monitoring and Reporting
Adapted from: Web Publishing Guide, AGIMO, 2007

1 comment:

Tom Worthington said...

I commented that the new Australian Government web publishing guide failed to state exactly level of accessibility is required. Tim Dale, Assistant Director of Online Services at the Australian Government Information Management Office responded, changing the web page to say:

"Agencies must achieve level "A" conformance (all Priority 1 checkpoints are satisfied), and it is recommended that agencies achieve level "AA" conformance (all Priority 1 and Priority 2 checkpoints are satisfied)."

Most agencies are now managing to achieve this level (unlike their private sector equivalents who are failing to comply with the guidelines). It would be reasonable for AGIMO to lift the bar for agencies to Level AA (Priority 2).

That would take a change in policy and ideally agreement by state governments. It would take some effort, but might be worthwhile as it could help provide online services and consultation for remote indigenous communities.