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NC Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Public Affairs

Webmaster Notes: February 2009

Fifth Edition

In this issue:

See also the previous editions of Webmaster Notes

Photo Alert

DHHS is currently under threat of litigation because of photographs posted on one of our websites. A company is alleging that they own these photographs and the department does not have the legal right to display them. The department received a bill for $135,000.

While the merits of the claim are still under question, the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office has certain common sense requirements to ensure this does not happen again.

First we have to get an accurate inventory of all photographs used on our websites. Web Content Managers will be calling their webmasters in February and March 2009 to fill out the attached spreadsheet. Please cooperate to the fullest to ensure the department is protected from copyright lawsuits.

After a full inventory is achieved, further instructions will be coming.

Templates Now Available for Website Redesign!

The redesigned DHHS website was unveiled on August 1, 2008. Now the effort will extend to all divisions and offices (but not all at once!). Secretary Cansler has expressed his full support for the project. (See the February 2009 Employee Update, PDF)

Templates have been created that include all of the features of the redesigned website, includng accessible tabbed browsing, compliant code, and separation of presentation and content. The print feature works in all browsers but IE6 (due to a quirk in that browser).

Divisions and offices need to do a good deal of preparation before converting their websites into templates. That preparation involves revising content and organization, so webmasters are not involved at that stage. For more information, see the Web Style Guide.

The project will address several websites at a time. So far, the Division of Medical Assistance, the Division of Information Resource Management, the Office of Rural Health and Community Care, and the Office of Vital Records are actively working to get their sites into the new templates.

Divisions and offices wishing to convert their sites to the templates should contact Lois Nilsen in Public Affairs at 715-4394.

Should I try to make my website resemble the new look?

Do not tinker with the format of your current site to try to make it look more like the templates. When your division or office converts to the templates, you will be recreating and reorganizing the pages at that time. If your division or office is not ready to begin the redesign process, work on ensuring that your site meets DHHS standards, as summarized in chapter 1 of the Web Style Guide.

Can I get the templates now?

The website redesign project is not just about a single look and feel, but also about making our websites better fit the needs of the audience. Public Affairs first works with a division/office team to determine the needs, the organization, and how much rewriting is necessary. Detailed “wireframes” will be constructed that show all the navigation and the content on each page. Only after this work is done will the templates be released to the webmaster.

Are the templates easy to use?

The templates have been created to make it as easy as possible on webmasters, but some understanding of HTML is still desirable. The templates use cascading style sheets (CSS) to control format. CSS may be new to some webmasters but it is easy to learn how to apply them.

Will there be training in the templates?

Yes. When you receive the templates, Lois Nilsen will sit down with you and all of your backup webmasters and train you in the templates. Documentation will be provided.

Deleting Pages or Changing URLs? Let Someone Know

File management for websites often requires us to move a web page or delete it. When you do that, apply some due diligence to make sure you're not creating broken links within the department.

If the page is linked in the department's A-Z sitemap, please alert the dhhswebmaster AT If the page is linked widely in the department, let all webmasters know at dhhswebmastersgroup AT If the page is linked from key constituents outside the agency, find those pages by searching "link:URL" in a commercial search engine and then sending an email to the webmaster.

But most of all, if a page is retired, remember to delete it from the server.

Accessibility Tip: Alert Site Visitors when a Link Opens in a New Window

In general links should open in the same window. Opening in a new window breaks the back button, and visually impaired site visitors may get lost. If there is a compelling reason to open a web page in a new window, alert the visitor with "link opens in new window." This wording should be part of the link text.

This and more link guidance is available in Chapter 4 of the Web Style Guide.

Previous Editions of Webmaster Notes



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