Creating information and data
As with accessibility, usability and security, good practices in online information and data management can't be applied retrospectively. It's essential that they be considered from the start of the development lifecycle.
Giving adequate consideration to the points on this page will help you ensure that you are following good practices when creating information or services online.
Ownership and authority
- Ensure the responsible agency's name and (where appropriate) the responsible business unit can be determined from all online content. The business unit name should be on a page or publication or in the 'About this site' page of a website, and in page metadata.
- Brand all content/pages on the site or service with the approved agency brand.
- Have a documented and approved process for publication. This may be approval rules stored in Content Management System (CMS) workflow modules. If publication processes aren’t managed by CMS workflows, you should have a manual signoff or approval process in place.
- Ensure publication is only undertaken by authorised people.
- Have a clear trail of evidence to support publication. For example, who created, who approved, and steps taken to ensure quality and accuracy of information.
- Ensure online services have been through a process of risk assessment, risk mitigation, and formal acceptance of residual risk by the business owner ('accreditation'), with a level of assurance that is appropriate to the nature of the site or service.
- Seek assurance from your security advisers.
- Put measures in place to ensure all personal information is protected from unauthorised access or disclosure.
- Manage all personal information in accordance with the information privacy principles.
- Monitor and record accesses to people's personal information.
- Be familiar with the privacy guidance.
- Seek assurance from your privacy advisers when dealing with personal information.
Accuracy and validity
- Ensure all information has been reviewed for accuracy and approved for publication.
- Consider visibly marking content/pages with the approving authority, such as the business unit.
- Mark all content/pages with the date of publication.
- Ensure that content to be published has an appropriate schedule for review.
- If appropriate, mark pages/content with an expiry date or period of validity, or show that it is current.
- If you keep expired content in your CMS, it should be stored with the date on which it was withdrawn. If you choose to leave expired content publicly visible for historical purposes, it should be clearly marked as such, together with the period of validity that applied to it.
- If you are publishing content in formats other than HTML, choose formats that are widely adopted and can be reliably accessed for as long as needed. These are usually commonly used formats with openly published specifications.
- Refer to the ‘NZGOAL Guidance Note on file formats’. You should favour file formats that are considered more open when publishing content, and machine-readable when releasing data for re-use.
- Determine whether and how content will be archived or disposed of at end of life before publication, particularly content that is not in HTML. Have or develop a documented plan for lifecycle management of web-based information.
- You should embed metadata in content to ensure that the essential context of the content is preserved when it is archived, migrated or re-used, and can be accessed by a consuming system. It should include the name of the publishing agency, date of publication and last review and/or modification, date of expiry if appropriate, licensing terms, and description.
- Alert the National Library to significant new web-based publications or new websites, so they can be harvested under the Legal Deposit legislation. The National Library prefers to harvest new content from the time of creation and take regular copies thereafter.
- Ensure content is semantically structured, clearly titled and written in plain language to help people find and understand it.
- Use tools available in Word or online to test reading levels needed to understand your content.
- If you publish content in formats other than HTML, choose commonly used formats. Refer to the ‘NZGOAL Guidance Note on file formats’. If a non-HTML format is the primary vehicle for the content, you may need to give an accessible alternative. Regardless of any fully accessible alternative, the non-HTML version should be made as accessible as possible. Refer to the NZ Government Web Accessibility Standard, taking particular note of the implementation schedule, and associated guidance.
- When publishing data, make sure it is published in easily re-usable formats under an NZGOAL re-use licence unless specific licences are needed.
- List individual datasets available for re-use on data.govt.nz, with complete metadata.
- Apply widely adopted metadata schemas for embedded metadata. For most informational content this is likely to be Dublin Core.
- Comply with all aspects of the NZ Government Web Usability Standard.