Use this list to help guide you through development projects and confirm you have met all necessary requirements for creating new or redesigning existing ACF websites.
This list condenses the most important federal and Department guidelines and best practices for federal websites. ACF follows HHS standards with a few adjustments for branding and consistency. You can find details on the source of federal requirements and implementation of checklist items on acf.hhs.gov/digital-toolbox and hhs.gov/web Visit disclaimer page .
Requirements for New and Redesigned Sites
- Host site as a .gov domain
- Adhere to Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) only standard Visit disclaimer page
- Build site using Drupal 8 Visit disclaimer page
- Build websites using mobile-friendly, responsive design.
- Provide a link to the homepage Visit disclaimer page from every page on the website.
- Display a statement of content ownership or management Visit disclaimer page on every page.
- Include an “About” page that explains the site’s mission, governance, and responsible parties.
- Provide contact information that is easy to find.
- Include a search function Visit disclaimer page to help users easily locate information.
- Link to a policy that explains your agency's criteria for choosing external sites Visit disclaimer page .
- Provide links to plug-ins Visit disclaimer page for all non-html files or page elements.
- Provide a link for users to access ACF information under the Freedom of Information Act.
- Link to USA.gov Visit disclaimer page , HHS.gov, and ACF.gov in the footer of your website.
- Provide a user-friendly message for a 404 error page Visit disclaimer page .
- Do not post empty pages Visit disclaimer page or pages “under construction.”
- Do not link to political sites Visit disclaimer page or use the site for direct or indirect lobbying.
- Conduct a 508 assessment Visit disclaimer page to ensure your site is accessible to people using assistive technologies.
- Obtain OMB approval for any efforts to collect information from the public Visit disclaimer page .
- Obtain permission for any copyrighted material Visit disclaimer page that may appear on your site.
- Coordinate with OCIO to submit an Intake Request Form and complete ACF governance requirements.
- Use U.S. Web Design Standards Visit disclaimer page to create trustworthy, accessible, and consistent websites applying the ACF Color palette.
- Embed the HTML branding bar featuring the HHS and ACF logos/sites above website header
- Write for the web using the ACF Editorial Guide
- Use high-resolution photos; HD retina-ready preferred.
- Avoid creating new logos. Clearance of new logos are not supported, at this time.
- Use standard colors for visited and unvisited links Visit disclaimer page .
- Use meaningful language for links Visit disclaimer page rather than “click here.”
- Indicate the file type and size for downloadable files Visit disclaimer page .
- Include required links for federal websites Visit disclaimer page
- Present links to foreign language materials Visit disclaimer page in their language.
- Use an exit notification to identify and disclaim links to non-federal government websites Visit disclaimer page .
- Acknowledge with an automated response Visit disclaimer page whenever a user submits either a completed form.
- Design check box controls Visit disclaimer page to allow users to select one or more items, clear checked box selections, and select an option by clicking on either the box itself or its label.
- Clearly and consistently distinguish Visit disclaimer page required data entry fields from optional data entry fields.
- Provide radio buttons Visit disclaimer page to choose one response from mutually exclusive options.
Managing the Website
- Document and enforce your site’s content management roles, procedures, and style guide Visit disclaimer page .
- Establish a plan and schedule to review and archive old content Visit disclaimer page .
- Set up an analytics program Visit disclaimer page to gather information about your users’ behavior, review data, and make site improvements. Implement Digital Analytics Program Visit disclaimer page (DAP) federal-wide analytics tool for common web metrics. ACF DAP POC: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Consult your records officer to determine the retention schedule and format for your web records Visit disclaimer page
Keep in Mind
- Establish a comprehensive content strategy Visit disclaimer page
- Consult the Research-based Usability Guidelines Visit disclaimer page when designing your information architecture and navigation.
- Consider conducting usability testing Visit disclaimer page to ensure users can easily and successfully complete their tasks.
- Follow best practices for search engine optimization.
- Ensure that you have met all required policies for new media Visit disclaimer page
- All content should be written in plain language Visit disclaimer page , consistent with the Plain Writing Act of 2010 and the government’s plain language principles.
- Provide access for people with limited English proficiency Visit disclaimer page in compliance with Executive Order 13166.
- Use electronic forms to conduct official business with the public to the extent practicable, in accordance with the Government Paperwork Elimination Act Visit disclaimer page (GPEA, Pub. L. 105–277).
- PDF ACF Website Requirements (370.96 KB)