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Home > For State Government > Website Design > Design Standards

Design Standards

InforME is deeply committed to usability and accessibility for all website visitors. A website will not achieve your goals as an Agency nor meet the needs of site visitors unless it has been carefully planned and designed with an understanding of usable design principles and a commitment to universal access.

InforME’s Creative Services team is the Maine government resource on usability and accessibility for websites. We continually monitor research reports and industry best practices to stay current and informed in this fast-changing field. Our services will ensure that a site is accessible to as wide an audience as possible, compliant with federal, State, and industry standards, and easy to use - bringing efficiencies to your Agency staff and satisfaction to your site visitors.

Accessibility

All Maine State government websites are required to comply with the State’s web accessibility policy and are subject to Federal Section 508 standards. We can help you understand what that means, and ensure that your website meets all requirements.

Accessible design means building sites that will be usable by all citizens, including those with disabilities. This is absolutely critical for government websites, and we make this a high priority in every project. Our Creative Services staff are experts in this area.

Website accessibility is required by Maine state policy and by Federal law. It's also the right thing to do. Accessible web design benefits all site visitors by improving overall usability. Building truly accessible websites requires a deep understanding of potential barriers and the latest techniques for ensuring universal access through coding, presentation, formatting, and other aspects of site design.

Additional benefits of accessible web design include:

  • Enabling your site to reach a wider audience, including disabled users, senior citizens, and people viewing on older computers or non-standard devices (PDAs, phones, etc)
  • Improving search engine compatibility and ranking
  • Improving browser-compatibility and likelihood of compatibility with future browsers and devices by using standards-compliant code
  • Improving server load time by using standards-compliant code and style sheets (CSS)
  • Improving usability for all users through clear and consistent navigation and clearly structured content

More accessibility resources (State agencies only)

Usability

Have you ever visited a website with a simple task to do but you just couldn't figure it out? Perhaps you ended up having to call or email the company or organization because you couldn't find what you needed online. Most of us have had this experience, and it is frustrating. It also makes us less likely to visit that site again, and it costs that company/organization money because they have to expend staff time to answer our phone call or email.

A user friendly site is one that you don't have to "figure out". It follows established website conventions for layout, formatting, and placement of important features, and it uses consistent navigation that is labeled and organized in an intuitive way. It provides multiple ways to access information (for example, navigation menu, search engine, "featured links", "see also links").

InforME will work with you to understand your site audience(s) and build a site that is easy and enjoyable to use.

Benefits of a user-friendly website include:

  • Users have a more satisfying experience, creating positive feelings toward your agency and likelihood of using the site again
  • Fewer calls and emails to your staff, creating efficiencies
  • Users find what they need online, saving them time and hassle

More usability resources (State agencies only)

Experience

InforME has provided expertise to the State in both website accessibility and usability, including assistance with the revision of the State’s web accessibility policy in 2003, development of website design standards and best practices, training and support of state webmasters, and development of standardized state website templates (2004). InforME’s Director of Creative Services, Kelly Hokkanen, was an invited speaker on the topic of web site accessibility at the 2003 Maine Executive Leadership Forum sponsored by the Center for Digital Government, and at the 2004 Maine Municipal Association Technology Conference. We have experience in conducting usability testing, surveys, and focus groups. Our design team stays up to date on the latest research, tools, technologies and techniques.

We ensure usability and accessibility of websites and applications by emphasizing these important components throughout the project lifecycle. This includes:

  • Thorough quality assurance testing using a comprehensive checklist of browsers, validations, and accessibility checkpoints
  • Standards-compliant HTML, XHTML, and CSS coding
  • Usability testing and analysis of usage data and customer feedback
  • Expert knowledge of current techniques and standards
  • Design and architecture based on research and industry best practices