Web Standards

Standards for consistent interaction and user experience on B.C. government websites.

Printing

Standard

If content on a web page is designed to be printed, that content should be offered as a printable, downloadable PDF. 

Explanation

Web pages may not print correctly due to screen and print resolution settings. Web documents are formatted by CMS Lite, and are not optimized for printing.

Hyperlinks

Standard

When linking to applications or files such as PDFs, opening new browser tabs or windows is acceptable. When linking to other web pages, open hyperlinks in the same window unless doing so will disrupt the workflow, confuse your audience, or terminate a secure session.

Explanation

Opening web pages in new browser windows or tabs can break navigation, confuse your audience, disrupt workflow, and break secure connections, as can opening files and applications in the same window.

Email Addresses 

Standard

Use generic rather than personal email addresses on web pages. When linking an email address, link descriptive text to that email address and ensure the word “email” is included in the link.

Explanation

Generic email addresses protect privacy and don’t depend on job changes, and using descriptive text improves accessibility. Where possible, contact forms should be used in place of email addresses. 

Accessibility

Standard

All B.C. government web pages must be designed, written and styled to comply with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

Explanation

With its Accessibility 2024 initiative, the B.C. government is committed to creating websites, online content, and applications that are accessible to all British Columbians.

Beta Content

Standard

Beta content is acceptable when sections of a collection are complete and will benefit an audience if published sooner. Placeholder pages containing phrases such as "Under Construction" or “Coming soon” have no place on public websites.

Explanation

Coming-soon placeholders don’t provide useful information, but content in beta format (such as 2 standalone sections of a 5 section collection) can be helpful.

Translated Content

Standard

Content that has been translated to or from any language can only be published on the B.C. government’s public websites if it has been translated by professional human translator and reviewed by a professional human proof-reader.

Explanation

Automated translation software and services commonly don’t produce accurate, professional, or error free translations. To reduce the risk of embarrassing and potentially costly mistakes, never rely on automated translation services.

Web Style

Standard

All text or graphical content published on B.C. government websites must be developed, written, formatted, and styled in accordance with the B.C. government’s Writing for the Web standards and guidelines.

Explanation

A standard approach to content development, plain language, visual design, and web style ensures a consistent user experience and is a core component of web accessibility. 

Search

Standard

The standard B.C. government web search service is provided by the Google Search Appliance (GSA) and is only search service that can be used on B.C. government websites. 

Explanation

Third party search applications or code snippets may pose a security risk and are not compliant with B.C. government standards.

Analytics

Standard

The B.C. government’s Web Analytics and Reporting Service is the only approved analytics service for use on B.C. government websites.

Explanation

Externally hosted web analytics applications such as Google Analytics may violate privacy and copyright laws.

Custom Sites

Standard

Any web content that is developed by third parties for B.C. government programs or entities must comply with the B.C. government’s Web Developers Guide

Explanation

Consistent user experience and common look and feel are critical parts of government’s online brand, and support a unified, citizen-centred web presence.

Web Forms

Standard

Whether intended for print or web, forms must be designed and comply with the B.C. government’s Form Management Standards

Explanation

Form standards provide best practices, guidelines, and requirements that promote a common look and feel and consistent design.

File Labels

Standard

The file type and size of non-HTML documents (such as PDFs) must be included in link descriptions to inform users before they choose to download. For files under 1MB, including the size with the description is optional but recommended. 

Explanation

Information about file sizes can help users decide how and when to download files, and improves accessibility by providing clear information to people, screen readers and search engines. 

Content Files

Standard

Unless there is a legal, legislative, graphic design or print requirement, textual content should only be published in CMS Lite pages as HTML, and not uploaded as files such as PDFs. The only exception to this standard is for manuals and systems or procedure documentation intended for offline use.

Explanation

Written content inside files (such as Word, Excel or Acrobat) isn't as easy to use, find or maintain, and may require additional programs to view. Uploaded files also reduce performance, increase storage costs, and can make search results less accurate, placing barriers between content and the people who need it

Credits

Standard

B.C. government web pages and image files should only use Province of British Columbia for photo or author credits.

Explanation

All content on Gov.bc.ca is owned by the Government of British Columbia and is protected by copyright law.