About the Web Usability Standard
This overview is informative only and doesn't constitute part of the New Zealand Government Web Usability Standard. It's subject to change without notice.
The New Zealand Government Web Usability Standard (the Standard) replaces the Strategy and Operations, Content and Design, and Legal and Policy sections of the New Zealand Government Web Standards 2.0.
The Standard sets minimum content and other requirements to help people use a site and its content. However, it does not cover general usability principles as they are typically understood. It is recommended that, in addition to meeting the Standard, websites have a usability analysis performed and make improvements based on the findings.
The keywords ‘must’, ‘should’, and ‘should not’ used in the Standard signify different types of requirements as defined by RFC 2119:
- ‘must’ signifies that the defined course of action is absolutely required
- ‘should’ defines a recommended course of action that may be ignored as long as the full implications of doing so are clearly understood and the organisation is prepared to accept them
- ‘should not’ defines a course of action that is not recommended, but for which there may be valid reasons to pursue, as long as the full implications of doing so are well understood.
Other terms used in the Standard, e.g. web page, archived web page, website, main content, also have specific meanings, all of which are defined in the Standard’s glossary.
The Standard contains six requirements.
1. Home page
Each home page must include the name and/or logo of the New Zealand Government organisation that is primarily responsible for the website. This requirement helps users clearly identify which Government organisation is mainly accountable for the website.
If the website is a partnership between two or more organisations, government or non-government, it is recommended that each NZ Government organisation contributing to the website makes its participation clear by including its name and/or logo on the website’s home page.
Each home page must also include a visible link to newzealand.govt.nz or www.govt.nz. Consistent with the All-of-Government Brand Policy and Guidelines, organisations should use an appropriate version of the all-of-government brand image for the link.
2. Contact information
To make it easy for visitors to contact the Government organisation responsible for the website, the home page must include a visible link that clearly takes the user to what serves as the website's ‘Contact us’ or similar web page, whether that is a page on the same or a different website. The ‘Contact us’ page must clearly indicate that it is the ‘Contact us’ page for the website, and provide the following minimum information so that visitors can ask questions about the site or the responsible Government organisation.
The ‘Contact us’ or similar page must include the address of an email account that is regularly monitored by the website’s responsible organisation. Depending on a number of factors, the regularity of the monitoring will vary from site to site. Obviously, the more frequent the monitoring, the sooner the organisation will be able to respond to requests that arrive via email, and the more responsive the organisation will seem to users.
If the website delivers services for which there exists a call centre, the telephone number for that call centre must be provided on the ‘Contact us’ or similar page.
The ‘Contact us’ or similar page must also include a regularly monitored postal address. Again, the frequency with which the postal address is monitored will contribute to how quickly the organisation will be able to respond queries sent through the post.
To enable even more points of contact with the organisation responsible for the website, the ‘Contact us’ or similar web page should also include a telephone number, and a physical address if the organisation has a physical location that is open to the public. And to support people who are deaf, hearing-impaired, deaf-blind, or speech-impaired, it is recommended that a link to the New Zealand Relay Service (NZ Relay) be included.
Government organisations are encouraged to make information available easily, widely and equitably to the people of New Zealand (except where reasons preclude such availability as specified in legislation). They are equally encouraged to permit the use of material in which they own the copyright, subject to acknowledgement of source. Accordingly, each website must contain a general copyright statement.
The website’s general copyright statement must state that copyright material on the website is protected by copyright, and clearly indicate the licensing terms under which that material can be re-used by others.
The site’s home page must include a visible link to the general copyright statement. The link’s text must be something like ‘Copyright’ to clearly indicate that its target is the site’s copyright statement, and the copyright statement must clearly indicate that it applies to the website.
A website that contains third party copyright material must clearly state, either within the general copyright statement and/or within or near to each item of third party copyright material:
- the source and copyright status of such material in a way that avoids ambiguity as to which content items are subject to third party copyright
- that the website’s general re-use licence does not apply to material that is subject to third party copyright, and
- that permission to re-use third party copyright material cannot be given by the New Zealand Government organisation responsible for the website.
The general copyright statement should also state that its general licensing terms do not apply to material on the website that is covered by the Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981.
Agencies are encouraged to apply the New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing framework (NZGOAL) when choosing the licensing terms for the copyright material on their websites. For related guidance, see NZGOAL Guidance Note 1: Website copyright statements.
The privacy statement needs to include several bits of information:
- the information and website that the privacy statement applies to (e.g. ‘This privacy notice applies to personal information collected on [the organisation’s] website: ministry.govt.nz’)
- how and where on the site a visitor’s personal information is collected
- the organisations and/or third parties that keep the information
- if a user has a choice in whether or not such information is collected
- how collected personal information may be used by the organisation
- the circumstances under which the information may be disclosed to others
- what statistical information (including users’ IP addresses) is collected and how it is used
- if cookies are used, a statement that this is so, and a brief description of what the cookies are used for
- what rights users have to request access to or to correct the personal information that is being held by the organisation, and
- the contact details for making such requests.
When a web page includes a link to a non-HTML file (e.g. a video file), that link must be accompanied by information indicating the file’s format (e.g. mp4, PDF, MS Word) and size. This helps users to know something about what will happen when they click the link.
Note that this requirement does not apply to such links on archived web pages.
Some users will print out web pages for various reasons. In the majority of those, it it is page’s main content that is of interest, and not all of the surrounding menus and widgets. For this reason, it is required that each web page’s main content be printable on standard sheets of paper. Ideally, the content will print by default as black text on a white background, and won’t include the following items:
- primary content navigation
- secondary content navigation
- thematic or decorative banner
- search form.
Note that this requirement does not apply to archived web pages.
Based on a 2003 mandate established by Cabinet (Cabinet Minute (03)41/2B), all Public Service departments and Non-Public Service departments in the State Services are directed to implement the Standard.
Other State sector organisations are not required to implement the Standard, but are strongly encouraged to do so. By virtue of the legislation (i.e. Human Rights Act 1993, Bill of Rights Act 1990) and New Zealand’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that underlie the requirement for mandated organisations to produce accessible websites, there is a reasonable expectation that the websites of all Government organisations will be accessible to the widest range of New Zealanders, including people with disabilities.
The NZ Government Web Usability Standard applies to all publicly available Government websites that can be accessed by individuals who are not employed by a NZ Government organisation subject to the Standard. This includes websites that require users to authenticate themselves through some kind of login, e.g. a Government extranet that restricts access to specific non-Government organisations.
Certain of the Standard’s requirements apply to a website as a whole, while others apply to specific web pages that are part of that website.
The requirements regarding printable web pages and links to non-HTML files do not apply in the case of archived web pages. For the purposes of this Standard, an archived web page is one that remains available on a website for reference purposes, but whose main content is not maintained or updated. An archived web page’s main content must be clearly marked as archived, for instance, with a banner at the top. The page itself must include accessible instructions on how a user can request an accessible version of its content.
Website owners are strongly encouraged to audit their site’s content to identify those web pages that contain redundant, out-of-date, or trivial content. In most cases, such pages should be either updated or removed from the website. However, in some instances there may be value in retaining them, but not in maintaining or updating them, in which case they could be marked as archived.
As opposed to the Web Accessibility Standard, this Standard only applies to publicly available websites, and where printable web pages and links to non-HTML files are concerned, web pages on those websites.
Mandated organisations had one year to meet the original Web Usability Standard 1.0. By 30 June 2014, all publicly available websites were to have conformed to that Standard. Since then, the Standard has been updated. From 01 August 2014 onward, all publicly available websites are to conform to the Web Usability Standard 1.2.
There is no process by which a mandated organisation can secure an exemption from the requirement to meet the Standard. Instead, each organisation is responsible for meeting the Standard, and accordingly accepts any risks associated with not doing so.
Assessment and reporting
Organisations must be prepared, when notified, to assess and report within a reasonable time frame on their conformance with the Standard. The assessment methodology and reporting mechanism will be communicated to organisations at the time of notification.
In the case that an organisation does not fully meet the Standard, it will be required to manage any risk associated with that lack of conformance by performing a risk assessment and submitting a plan to address, over time, those areas of non-conformance.