Go-Live Checklist for Federal Websites

Jan 13, 2022

So you want to build a website. 

In the federal government, this involves all the standard things, like getting a domain name, picking a nice template, and making sure you have great content. But it also involves following several laws, policies, and regulations to ensure that your site and content serve the public.

Making Sense of Policy Compliance

You’re probably thinking, “How complicated could it be?” 

You may be surprised. Check the Requirements for Federal Websites and Digital Services. This long list covers topics such as accessibility, privacy, security, design, and user experience. 

Fortunately, the Federal Web Council and GSA have developed a new checklist tool. It will help federal agencies understand and meet all the laws, policies, and requirements for their websites and digital services.

This new checklist explains how to meet various criteria:

  • When launching a new website, and 
  • When maintaining that website over time.

To have a detailed look at what it takes to comply with policy, you can also download a copy of the tool as a spreadsheet on the Requirements for Federal Websites and Digital Services page.

What’s in the Checklist?

The checklist organizes policy requirements into nine broad categories, listed below. These topics cover the breadth of federal web policy. The checklist explains what your agency needs to do to meet each requirement.

  1. Accessibility - Individuals with disabilities can access and use the site
  2. Analytics - Teams base their decisions about the site on data and analysis
  3. Content - Content managers work with subject matter experts to edit content so it meets user needs and follows digital writing best practices
  4. Design and user experience - Sites are designed around user needs; they are modern, consistent in appearance, and fully functional on common mobile devices
  5. Governance - Web teams must improve digital experience through documented internal management processes
  6. Privacy - Our sites and apps protect user information
  7. Search - Users can easily search content using an on-site search function; digital content is optimized for search
  8. Security - Users access content through industry-standard secure connections; site meets all current security requirements
  9. Trust - Teams regularly review content to ensure it’s current, authoritative, unique (no duplication); users can easily identify official government websites

How Do You Use the Checklist?

The first tab presents a dashboard, which automatically updates as you work through the rest of the tool. There are tabs to document business requirements, both for launching a new digital property, and for planning a major redesign. There are separate tabs for each topic area. There’s also a tab to customize the tool and add your own internal, agency-specific requirements. 

Each policy area explains what’s required — not only for launching a site, but also for maintaining it over time. 

As your team completes each requirement, use the drop-down in the far right status column to show your progress. The data from the status column will automatically populate the Overview tab as you work. It will provide an at-a-glance report on how well the site meets the requirements for both launch and long-term maintenance.

This checklist can help you develop your business case and identify the resources you’ll need for the long-term care and feeding of a federal website or digital service. 

It’s a new tool, so we welcome your feedback.