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NC Department of Health and Human Services
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Website Style Guide:
Chapter 1: Required Elements for All DHHS Websites

Branding | Date Stamp | Format | Page Titles | Search Engine | Disclaimer | Forbidden Elements | Governance | Required Elements Checklist | Style Guide Home

(Note, review of new content has moved to chapter 2)

1.1 Branding

At minimum, all websites in the department must have proper branding for the department on the home page. That includes use of the official DHHS logo and the name of the department. The name can be part of the logo, or in words placed near the logo. The logo needs to be a link to the DHHS home page. (Go to the logo gallery.)

A website is considered a “separate” website when any of the following apply: (1) the format changes considerably, (2) the top level navigation scheme changes, and/or (3) the URL changes.

Placement of the logo is flexible, but upper left is preferable. In any case, the logo should appear “above the fold.” That is, visible on the screen when viewed at a typical browser setting.

At a minimum, all websites in the department must clearly depict which division they are part of and link to that division from the home page.

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1.2 Date Stamp

A date stamp should appear on the bottom of every web page.

If this date stamp is created with JavaScript, it should degrade gracefully for site visitors with JavaScript turned off.

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1.3 Format

Font sizes and styles must remain consistent across the site.

Navigation should appear on every page, and high level navigation should be consistent across the site. A “home” link is essential.

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1.4 Page Titles

The title tag is very important. Title tags specify the title of your Web page and are required on all pages. They are used when a page is bookmarked and in search results. Descriptive page titles are essential! Here are some guidelines:

Titles should be up to 64 characters in length, but shorter is often better.

All upper level DHHS pages begin with “NC DHHS: Short Title”. All division/office pages should follow the same convention: NC Division Acronym: Short Title. The section may or may not be employed:

Examples:

  • NC DSS: Adoption
  • NC DPH Epi: Rabies

Administrative divisions should begin with "NC DHHS", since functions such as Human Resources and Controller are not unique to this department.

Examples:

  • NC DHHS Controller Home page
  • NC DHHS DIRM: Technology Library

Each page on the website should have a unique title.

Examples:

  • NC OES: Governor Morehead School Home Page
  • NC OES: Governor Morehead School Outreach
  • NC OES: Governor Morehead School Outreach Core Curriculum

Use plain language that is descriptive, wherever possible, to enhance the ability of the page to be found by commercial search engines.

Example:

NC DCD: Find child care

NOT

NC DCD: Search for a Facility

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1.5 Search

The DHHS search tool will be placed on every website in the department, with the possible exception of branded sites. The words “Search DHHS” should be the label. If it is impractical to place the search on every web page of any given website, it should be placed on the home page and top navigation pages.

Search is optional for branded sites.

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1.6 Disclaimer

All home pages in the department shall have a link to the DHHS disclaimer at www.ncdhhs.gov/disclaimer.htm. This link can be at the bottom of the home page and in a small font.

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1.7 Forbidden Elements

At no time should a counter be placed on any page. Page statistics are available from the website host.

At no time should a “coming soon” or “under construction” page be placed on a website. Create a web page only when the material is written and ready for the web.

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1.8 Governance

Content Managers are assigned by Division Directors to keep an eye on their website(s). They are the division director's "eyes and ears" for their web presence. Whether a division or office has one or many websites, a content manager keeps tabs on it to make sure it meets departmental standards. All division websites have a single Content Manager. The Content Manager may or may not be the person who initiates changes.

Public Information Officers (PIOs) in the DHHS Office of Public Affairs are the last review before new or substantially revised material is placed on any of our departmental websites. PIOs are communication professionals who also are aware of departmental issues and concerns that may not be apparent to division staff. They understand matters of style and can edit text for clarity. The website is our most public publication, and thus PIOs should be in the loop for most website changes.

A complete registry of all Content Managers and PIOs for every departmental website is available at www.ncdhhs.gov/redesignproject.

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1.9 Required Elements Snapshot

The Website Style Guide and Web Standards are the resource for webmasters, content managers, and public information officers as they create, edit and review web pages. This checklist is distilled from them, but does not replace them.

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