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16 July 2013

Making the web more usable

We went to the recent launch of the New Zealand Government Web Standards.

The standards aim to ‘promote, establish, and ensure accessibility of the web’. They set standards for accessibility and usability for most government websites and intranets.

The standards replace an earlier set that was trickier to administer and update.

Rollout from 2014 to 2017
Government ministries and departments must begin to comply with the guidelines now, with a deadline of 2017. The order in which they attack the task depends on how ‘high stakes’ the web pages are. For example, these pages must conform by June 2014:
  • every home page
  • every ‘contact us’ page
  • every page containing ‘high stakes’ information, such as emergency services, health and safety matters, entitlements, and obligations.
Usability and accessibility
Some parts of the standards are technical, and some are simply common sense. They’re split into standards for usability and accessibility.

The standards aim to deliver usability for all. For example, they standardise the basic information required for a government website. Each site must have a link to, a ‘contact us’ page with standardised information, and pages on copyright and privacy.

They also specify requirements for accessibility, so that people with disabilities can use the websites without barriers. These standards comply with national and international conventions and acts. 

Learn more, read more
In our Web Lab we’ll include how to apply these principles to any website.
Read about Write’s Web Lab

And we can all thank the NZ Government Web Standards Working Group who got together in December 2012 to hammer out the guidelines.
Read the Government Web Standards 


  1. This is useful stuff. It will be very interesting to see how Government websites evolve over time - and how they make changes based on the Web Standards. I'll be referring to this information when taker closer look at our website very soon. Kathryn

  2. Yes - look at agencies' home and 'contact us' pages first. Their deadline for revision is June 2014.