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DHHS Redesign Project
Welcome to the third edition of DHHS Webmaster Notes.
Before You Post that PDF
A cross-department PDF accessibility workgroup is meeting to create guidance for how to ensure our documents on the web are accessible.
Our Web Standards say that documents placed on the web should be accessible, or that an alternative accessible format should be provided. The workgroup is looking for ways to make this practical. In the meantime, do your best to meet the standard.
One way to make it work is to avoid PDF unless it’s absolutely needed. HTML and XHTML are the preferred formats for information placed on the web. For more information, read chapter 3 in the Style Manual. It’s currently draft, because that’s where the workgroup recommendations will go.
The new departmental Public Website Policy, DHHS Web Standards, and Website Style Guide have been posted for a couple months now. DHHS webmasters should be updating their sites to comply with these documents. The checklist in Chapter 1 of the Style Guide is a good place to start. A good strategy is to do the home page and all second tier pages, then bring the other pages up to standard as they are edited.
Validation: What is it? Why do it?
The Web Standards say that all department webmasters should validate the code of their websites. This article gives the basics on what is involved.
What is it?
Validation is a process of checking your documents against a formal standard, such as those published by the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) for HTML and XML-derived Web document types. It serves a similar purpose to spell checking and proofreading for grammar and syntax, but is much more precise and reliable.
HTML validation allows authors to check their HTML syntax. There are many reasons to validate your HTML.
Valid HTML is less likely to cause problems with different browsers and more likely to survive the next browser release.
Non-valid pages rely on error-correction. This error correction can and does vary radically across different browsers and versions.
When you buy a vacuum cleaner, you don't need to ask "does the power supply in my house support Dyson or Hoover"; you know it supports both. That's because there is a standard for power, that is observed by everyone concerned - the manufacturers, the power supplier, and the electrician who wired your house.
Exactly the same argument applies to the Web. Valid markup is one of the standards that make it work. It's simply good practice.
How do I do it?
- Go to www.w3.org/
- Find the HTML Validator on the left hand navigation list.
- Validate a page. Use the results to make corrections.
One of the first errors may be not having a doc type defined. The doc type goes before the Head tag. The doc type tells the validator which standard to use.
You can find some code here: http://htmlhelp.com/reference/html40/html/doctype.html . And if you want to read up on doc types, some more information is here: www.netmechanic.com/news/vol6/html_no9.htm
If you get stuck, send an email to the DIRM Web Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Reference: Much of this information was taken from http://valet.htmlhelp.com/)
DHHS Logo Gallery
The DHHS logo represents our agency to our constituency. It appears on 120 websites across the department. Often the logo is pixelated or distorted. Sometimes the DHHS logo appears in a box. If the logo on your website is poor quality or appears as if in a box, go to the new DHHS Logo Gallery to find the logo that best fits your website. This should meet your needs, but if you need a different logo, contact email@example.com
New Site Map
The DHHS website has a new Site Map. In includes the top navigation on division and office websites. Included are all links on division and office home pages to major sections of content.
- No links to PDFs.
- No links labeled as highlights or featured links or what's new or quick links.
- No links to email addresses.
- No links to the DHHS disclaimer.
- If the home page has two levels of links, only the top level, was included.
- No links to pages that are basically lists of links to outside references, such as pages listed as "links" or "resources"
Division and office webmasters, please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you make changes to your home pages that affect the department's site map.
Use "New" Website Address!
The department officially changed its website address in early 2006. If you have not yet changed your all your DHHS links from www.dhhs.state.nc.us to www.ncdhhs.gov across your site, please do so. It will help our search engine ranking to have more incoming links to the correct address. Even if you have that link on many pages, Dreamweaver makes the change very easy to do.
Best Practices: Advice from Fellow DHHS Employees
From Robert Evans, Web Team Maintenance and Enhancement Resource Lead, DIRM
- Always have a backup for key website support staff within a division/office.
- Keep all website user ids and passwords in a physically secure log.
- Keep all the source code in more than one place in case of disaster.
- Make the code straight forward and easy to understand and maintain by more than one person.
- Use standardized software/tools such as Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks and straight HTML.
- Minimize the use of special custom developed routines since they tend to be more expensive and difficult to maintain.
From Tripp Dean, Webmaster, DPH
Some good resources are:
- Include a Doc type declaration per W3C (at least 4.01 Transitional) in all web pages
- Also include a Latin or UTF character set declaration
- Meta tags for content, description
- No files or document names contain spaces
- No FrontPage web bots
- Use library items and templates when building sites
- No inline CSS
- No proprietary source, such as MS Word HTML
- No pixelated images or images with incorrectly assigned dimensions, especially logos (a quick way to ruin someone else’s work/creative efforts and attempts to brand programs!)
Do you have a "best practice" or a favorite resource that you'd like to share with DHHS webmasters? Email Lois Nilsen at email@example.com.