Providing Common Access for a Broad Range of Users
What It Is
Designing, developing, and testing your website for a broad range of visitors—including those with lower-end hardware and software capabilities—is one of the best practices for managing your agency’s external website. You should routinely evaluate your website to be sure you’re giving your visitors an equal chance to get the information and services you offer.
Why It’s Important
- All citizens are entitled to access government information and services, including those who don't use advanced technologies.
- While more and more visitors have access to higher-end technologies, research shows that a significant percentage of the public still uses relatively low connection speeds, lower screen resolutions, and prefers a variety of different Internet browsers.
OMB Policies for Federal Public Websites require agencies to (#1A) "to disseminate information to the public in a timely, equitable, efficient and appropriate manner," (#2A) "maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information and services provided to the public. This includes making information and services available on a timely and equitable basis, and (#9) "maintain accessibility." By designing and testing your websites so that most of your audiences can access them without additional hardware or software, you will make your site accessible to more people.
How to Implement
- Make accessibility part of your standard operating procedures: Design, develop, and test your website for multiple browsers and versions of browsers, operating systems, connection speeds, and screen resolutions, based on an analysis of an organization's website visitors.
- Balance needs: Balance the needs of visitors who use lower-end technologies with the need to pursue more advanced technologies and the added functionality those technologies may provide.
- Use web analyzer tools or other analytic data to review visitors' technological needs at least semi-annually. Ensure that your websites continue to meet the needs of their intended audiences.
- To the maximum extent feasible, minimize page download times. In most cases, HTML pages should not exceed 100 KB.
- Don't use web design technologies (such as Flash) if your intended audience generally cannot and does not have access to those technologies.