Does your organization or customer have a set of rules for its web content and publications? There are many topics to consider, including product review guidelines, web content hosted on the organization’s or customer-approved servers, responsibility and maintenance of content and information published, implementing graphic design standards, copyrights, web document inventory, records management practices, and external linking that conforms to the organization’s policy. I will touch on several of these topics in this post.

Product review guidelines

These review guidelines typically involve an established web product development and review process to ensure relevance and quality are maintained. Several applicable topics would include

  • All redesigns or edits reflecting user-centric content
  • Improving the writing of relevant content to specific audiences
  • Reducing redundant, outdated and trivial (ROT) content.

Prerequisites to a redesign might include:

  • Cleaning up ROT and getting it certified as complete
  • Reviewing PDF metadata for quality and making sure it’s certified
  • Completing continuing education or in-house training such as redesign guidelines, writing for the web, or best practices.

Product review might also include ensuring that the purpose of the web content is tied to the strategic goals and priorities set forth by the organization, identifying target audiences and their specific information needs, and reviewing the content based on the audience’s goals and requirements.

A set of steps for product review should be plainly available and easy to understand and implement and should include items such as a submission request process, web content checklist, code and content review process, and final replacement approval.

Responsibility and maintenance of information published

There should be an established process for getting content approved, drafted, and posted. It might mean having to get content reviewed by key personnel or discussing technology issues with an infrastructure coordinator to ensure that the content meets the expectations and mission of the organization or customer. Once the content is published it must then be maintained to ensure the information does not go out of date over time, including periodic review to ensure that information is accurate, timely, integrated, and useful to the customer.

Graphic design standards

Standards encompass any image, photo, logo, icon, banner, map, or chart that appears on web pages. Design content standards and guidelines might require that graphics:

  • Provide information, means of navigation, visual organization, or serve another obvious purpose.
  • Are relevant to the page content.
  • Provide captions and alternative text which are section 508 compliant.
  • Do not infringe on copyright, trademark, or intellectual property rights.

Copyright rules

This is fairly self explanatory, yet many are confused as to the actual rules that pertain to copyrighted material. Many organizations do not have a stated policy or rules for following copyright and trademark laws, especially for content on websites. A previous post went into great detail on the topic: “Cyber squatting and copyright infringement: What the law allows.”

Web document inventory

You should provide a centralized web taxonomy that uses common vocabulary to describe the content on your website. Audiences are able to access relevant information from searches when the web taxonomy is closely tied to the website’s information architecture. The specifications for the inventory should include controlled metadata and vocabularies, and these are based on functions, content, content types, audiences, geographic locations, and other sources. Maintaining a web document inventory will result in more reliable search patterns for users on the website.

Does your customer or organization have any rules of publishing that you must follow with respect to content on production web servers? What would you add to this list of issues that needs to be specifically addressed in official guidelines or best practices?