Better Practice Checklist

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1 Better Practice Checklist Briefing and selecting the Web developer About this checklist This checklist will explain how to brief the website development team when building a new website or re-developing an existing website. No matter whether the development team is inhouse or external, making sure it is built by the right people according to the right plan is essential to the success of the website. The aims of this checklist are to: increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the website development process; reduce the risk of developing a website that does not meet the requirements or expectations of the user; save time in briefing developers; improve the likelihood of selecting the most appropriate website development team; and improve management of the development process by having an appropriate contractual arrangement in place. Audience for this checklist This checklist is for Australian Government employees who are responsible for managing the development or redevelopment of a Government website.

2 Overview Checkpoints... 3 Step 1 Research... 3 Ask your users what they want to see and do on your website... 3 Determine your business needs, the aims of the website and the intended audiences... 3 Research what similar agencies are doing online - both nationally and internationally... 3 Check with Government lawyers to see what terms and conditions should be included in the contract... 3 Step 2: Write the brief... 3 About the department or organisation... 3 Aims of the website... 3 Intended audiences... 3 Content scope... 3 Content maintenance... 4 Features and functions... 4 Graphic design and usability principles... 4 Accessibility requirements... 4 e-commerce... 4 General technical issues... 5 Testing... 5 Training... 5 Project management arrangements... 5 Instructions to tenderers... 5 Step 3: Develop the contract... 5 Step 4: Finding potential developers... 5 Step 5: Review the proposals... 6 Step 6: Negotiate and sign the contract... 6 About the Better practice checklists... 6 Acknowledgments Better Practice Checklist Briefing and selecting the Web developer

3 Checkpoints Step 1 Research Undertaking research is important in establishing the principles on which the new website will be based. Consult with colleagues and users during the research phase to improve the validity of the process. Ask your users what they want to see and do on your website Find out what users like and dislike about your current site and test out some of your preliminary thinking about the content, features and layout of the new site. Refer to the checklist: Testing Websites with Users. Determine your business needs, the aims of the website and the intended audiences Find out what new information, products and services you want to provide and promote, and to whom and why. Research what similar agencies are doing online - both nationally and internationally Check with Government lawyers to see what terms and conditions should be included in the contract Consulting early with your lawyers allows time to prepare a development contract. Lawyers will need to see the development brief once it is completed in order to finalise the contract. Step 2: Write the brief Websites are not easily quantifiable products, therefore making websites difficult to tender for. Despite all research, you may still be unsure of the website s requirements and expectations. Engaging the web developer can help with this issue through exchanging ideas and working prototypes. The rationale for producing a brief is to minimise the guesswork and to provide the web developer with sufficient information on which to base a valid quotation. The brief may not be precise, but the exercise of putting it together will help to crystallize what is required in the site, how it should behave and what is expected of the web developer. Below is an outline of a brief that provides a structure for communicating your information and ideas to potential website developers. Each heading represents a section that should be in the brief. About the department or organisation portfolio, roles and responsibilities; information services/products you provide; history of the organisation; and history of the current website. Aims of the website Provide details relating to the aims of the website and how you intend to measure its success. Intended audiences State the categories of intended users e.g. public, citizens, government, businesses, tourists. Provide as accurate a breakdown of their characteristics as possible e.g. age, location (state, national, international, rural, city), their level of experience using the internet and likely connection speed. Content scope Provide details relating to the nature and scope of content e.g. approximately how many pages, documents, images, maps, minutes of video, audio, etc. Provide a list of all the intended headings and sub-headings within the site this may 3 Better Practice Checklist Briefing and selecting the Web developer

4 be presented as a tree-diagram or simply listed as a hierarchy of the headings. Content maintenance Possibly the most important aspect of managing a website is managing and updating its contents. Inefficient content management takes time away from the activity of improving the quality of the content and services offered online. The following two checklists provide information on content management systems and should be read prior to composing this section of the brief: Selecting a Content Management System and Implementing a Content Management System. desired process for updating and managing the contents after launch; extent to which the developer will be required to assist; number of staff required to undertake these activities; and training that may be required. Features and functions Identify what features and functions you want available to users on the web site. For each identified feature and function, explain how it should work for users and how it should work for you. Examples of features and functions: website search facility contact us query a database or data set sitemap password protected section a blog for feedback and comments e-newsletter CUE interactive maps and diagrams As this is the brief and you are not a Web expert, you do not have to know how everything will work on the web site. However, outlining to the developer the elements you would like on the web site enables the selection of the optimum overall solution for your web site and will help determine a realistic quotation. Graphic design and usability principles desirable characteristics of the web site e.g. easy-to-use and easy-to-find information; your design criteria and principles, for example it must comply with your logo and brand, font size, and layout; usability specify the principles for the navigation elements and how users should be able to use features of the web site. You may choose to frame this as a list of do s and don ts; Web addresses of websites you regard as good examples of what you are seeking so that the developer can see the type of site layout and design you envisage; and relevant industry standards and Web conventions. Accessibility requirements Specify that the site is to comply with relevant industry standards and accessibility guidelines. Refer to: accessibility guidelines issued by the World Wide Web Consortium - Better practice checklist: Access and equity issues for websites. e-commerce If you want users to be able to purchase products and/or services you need to describe: the nature and number of products and services that are to be offered online; how the products/services and corresponding prices are to be displayed; and the selection (shopping cart) and payment processes e.g. secure credit card payments via your bank. 4 Better Practice Checklist Briefing and selecting the Web developer

5 General technical issues the technical environment in which the maintenance solution will be operating e.g. state what type of computers and Internet connection those updating the site will be using; preferred website hosting arrangements; security requirements of the website and data; and website traffic usage monitoring and reporting requirements. Testing Testing with users and staff involved in updating the site should be undertaken throughout the development of the site and before signing-off on the design, usability and content management solution. It is preferable for website testing to be conducted by an experienced third party as they are likely to be more objective and have the skills to elicit and detect problems with the website. what is to be tested and under what conditions; who will do the testing and when; change control plan as a result of feedback from the testing; and sign-off procedure to accept changes and move to next stage of development. Training Ask the developer to state what training will be required and how many staff will need to be trained. Project management arrangements Explain the management structure who are the decision-makers? List their respective roles and internal decision making procedures. Project schedule: specify the deliverables and milestones, timeframe, and any stages you specifically require in the development process. Instructions to tenderers This section of the brief is only required if seeking proposals from private web developers. Each department and agency will have its own procurement policies and practices. No matter what they might be, it is useful when selecting a web developer to provide tenderers with the following range of information: response format e.g. hard copy, , or PDF; when responses must be submitted, where and to whom; what responses must contain e.g. methodology, experience, reference websites, the team members cited for the projects they have developed, and referees; itemised quotation including hourly rates e.g. project management, design, programming functionality, testing, training, editing software or content management solution, and hosting; the criteria for selection; and the process and timeframe for evaluating the responses. Step 3: Develop the contract Work with your in-house lawyers or approved and experienced lawyers to draw up a contract for the developers. The contract is vital as it helps protect the department or agency and provides the ground-rules for how the developer and you will work together. Step 4: Finding potential developers Many Government website development projects will be advertised through the tenders.gov.au website. However, if you need to identify web developers and other related suppliers to whom the brief and 5 Better Practice Checklist Briefing and selecting the Web developer

6 contract might be sent, here are some sources of information: the ICT Multi Use List managed by the Department of Finance and Deregulation: a search engine try the term: website developers the website industry association websites list their members: and Yellow pages and online business directories colleagues in other government departments Government websites that you like and are similar in scope to yours, find out who developed them sites often have credits, or just the site owner. Step 5: Review the proposals Once you have received the proposals review them according to your procurement policies and the process stated in the brief. If you have trouble understanding the proposal, warning bells should ring because it usually means they cannot communicate effectively, which, in turn, means working with them may be difficult and frustrating. If your procurement policies allow, invite a short-list of developers to come in to your office and present their proposal in person. This helps you understand the proposal more clearly and helps you determine who will be easiest to deal with. Step 6: Negotiate and sign the contract Once the preferred developer has been identified negotiate the contract. If the developer wishes to alter any aspect of the contract, check with the lawyer who drafted the contract before accepting or rejecting the alteration. If the developer requires you to sign anything, have your lawyer check it before agreeing verbally, or signing it. About the Better practice checklists Comments about this checklist and suggestions for additional checkpoints can be directed to: Better Practice Australian Government Information Management Office Copies of this and other checklists are available at: 6 Better Practice Checklist Briefing and selecting the Web developer

7 Better Practice Checklists Managing websites 1. Use of Metadata for Web Resources 2. Online Policy Consultation 3. Knowledge Management 4. ICT Support for Telework 5. ICT Asset Management 6. Managing the Environmental Impact of ICT 7. Assistive Technology for Employees of the Australian Government Planning websites 8. Providing Forms Online 9. Providing an Online Sales Facility 10. Selecting a Content Management System 11. Information Architecture for Websites 12. Website Navigation 13. Digitisation of Records 14. Access and Equity Issues for Websites 15. Marketing e-government 16. Designing and Managing an Intranet Building websites 17. Writing for the Web 18. Briefing and Selecting the Web Developer 19. Use of Cookies in Online Services 20. Implementing a Content Management System 21. Implementing an Effective Website Search Facility 22. Spatial Data on the Internet Maintaining websites 23. Managing Online Content 24. Archiving Web Resources 25. Decommissioning Government Websites Evaluating websites 26. Testing Websites with Users 27. Website Usage Monitoring and Evaluation Acknowledgments This checklist was developed by AGIMO and Website Criteria Pty Ltd. With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms all material presented in this document is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/au/) licence. The details of the relevant licence conditions are available on the Creative Commons website (accessible using the links provided) as is the full legal code for the CC BY 3.0 AU licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/legalcode). The document should be attributed as the Australian Government Better Practice Checklist 27 Briefing and selecting the Web developer 7 Better Practice Checklist Briefing and selecting the Web developer

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