Procedure: Complying with EPA.gov "Look and Feel"
EPA builds all web content in the Drupal WebCMS starting in as of January 2013. All new microsites and resource directories will be created using Drupal. There is still content on EPA's legacy servers and this content will be maintained there until it is transformed and moved into the Drupal WebCMS. The following information should be used only for minor updates/maintenance of existing pages; any significant updates or revisions to existing pages should be done in the context of One EPA Web content transformation into the Drupal WebCMS.
(see the full document below for details)
This document outlines the procedures for standardizing the layout of EPA’s public access Web pages with a consistent “Look and Feel.” The “Look and Feel” specifications enable each Web page to be clearly identified on EPA’s public access Web site as belonging to EPA and ensure that each page has the required navigational and other design elements. Certain types of pages will meet the criteria for an exemption or may be waived from the “Look and Feel” specifications. The steps for requesting a waiver or exemption from using required specifications of the EPA “Look and Feel” are included.
On this page:
- Content: none
- Style: none
- Required steps
- See also
- Related governance documents
- Full metadata about this standard
Template: A pattern used as a guide to make something accurate is the ordinary definition of template and it also applies to the EPA web page template. The template is used as the pattern for every EPA web page. There are 4 primary sections in the template: the header, the sidebar, content, and the footer. Only the content section appears differently for each page.
Cascading Style Sheets: A W3C standard programming language for specifying how a web page is presented. It allows web site designers to create formatting and layout for a web site independently of its content.
Use the approved and appropriate EPA template to lay out web pages according to the "Look and Feel" specifications unless one of the following applies:
- The page falls under one of the standing exemptions (follow Required Steps for Exemptions, below) or
- You decide to apply for a waiver for special circumstances (follow Required Steps for Waivers, below)
The following page is an example of an EPA page that meets the look and feel:
The following pages are examples of EPA pages that are exempt from the "Look and Feel" specifications:
- EPA Kids page for children ages pre-kindergarten through 4th grade
- Joint Web site: Energy Star
- PDF brochure: Returning to Homes and Businesses - All Hurricane Affected Residents (PDF) (3 pp, 53 K, About PDF)
EPA has established specifications for the layout of EPA's public access Web pages to create a consistent “Look and Feel”, to establish an EPA brand, and to ensure that visitors know when they are on an EPA page. While using one consistent design across all EPA web pages is required, there are certain cases where exemption or waivers from these standard template requirements are necessary.
Required Steps for Exemptions
- To request an exemption, fill out the "Request/Register an Exemption to the Agency Look & Feel" form. This form helps measure the compliance with the "Look and Feel" template standard. The form can be filled out by anyone; Office Director (or regional equivalent) approval is not necessary.
The following types of pages are exempt from the "Look and Feel" specifications and require registration, but do not need a waiver:
- Joint Sites:
Sites that are developed with organizations outside EPA are exempt from this specification provided they satisfy other EPA directives about presenting EPA information. In addition, joint sites must meet all of the following criteria to be exempt:The design must differ from the standard EPA "Look and Feel" so that the site does not appear to use a poorly implemented EPA template.
Additional Step for Joint Sites: When beginning to design a joint site, send an email to the OPA Web team member who works with your office, or related HQ office if you're in a Region, with a brief description of the site and the planned URL. This email simply provides OPA with information about EPA's joint Web efforts.
- clearly identify all partners,
- include materials from outside EPA, and
- include input on site structure and content from outside EPA.
- Kids Pages:
Information aimed at "kids," meaning up to and including 6th grade, do not need to use the standard design, but a consistent "Look and Feel" must be applied, and this "Look and Feel" must be approved by OPA and the Environmental Education Web Workgroup. Information aimed at older students (7th grade through 12th grade) must use the standard "Look and Feel" design. The ACSI code (see additional step for Kids pages below) may be added to kids pages at the discretion of the region or program office creating the kids page.
- Pop-up Windows:
A pop-up is a new browser window, smaller than the full screen, intended to supplement the primary browser window. Pop-up windows are exempt from the "Look and Feel" specifications, but do need to follow the pop-up window standards. See the pop-up window standard for content and style requirements.
- Protected areas:
Any part of the Web site that is protected from public access, either by a) requiring a user ID and password or b) restricting access to a limited list of IP addresses, is exempt from this specification. Such areas are used to conduct business via the Internet and are not part of EPA's public access information. Using a different look helps distinguish such areas from the public site and avoids confusing our visitors.
Developers may choose whether to apply this specification to pages that provide the entry point to areas protected by passwords or restricted IP lists. In general, these pages should use the area's normal template, but if the entry page is the only one in the area, use the same design as the password-protected material. (See the Protecting Content during Web Site Development procedure.)
- Redirection pages:
Pages that simply notify readers that a page or area has been moved need not be converted to meet this specification.
Note: The EPA page that the redirection page links to needs to meet the "Look and Feel" requirements unless the page falls under the exemptions or has a waiver.
- Pages that provide additional accessibility:
Pages containing only text descriptions of images, tables, etc. are exempt from this specification but must include the ACSI code (see Additional steps below). For pages that provide additional accessibility created before September 24, 2007, the ACSI code must be added to the page(s) by March 31, 2008.
Additional Steps for pages that provide additional accessibility:
- Use a white background.
- Use standard fonts.
- If possible, put all such files in one directory that also includes a .noindex file so they will not appear in search results.
Web pages generated by presentation software (for example, PowerPoint) are exempt from this specification, provided that other than internal navigation, they are linked to only from an introductory page that meets the specification.
Additional Steps for presentation Web pages:Note: It is also possible to have presentation pages detected automatically, without having to manually register presentation pages.
- The introductory page:
- Must provide the presentation's date, title, and an explanation of the presentation's content.
- Must link to the presentation's home page.
- May also link to individual pages.
- Presentation pages must be excluded from the search engine
- Put all presentation pages in a top-level presentations directory (for example, /productreview/ presentations/) or a subdirectory within the presentations directory (e.g., /productreview/ presentations/info/products/).
- The presentations directory should include a .noindex file so the presentation files will be excluded from the search engine.
- The introductory page:
- Joint Sites:
- Do not submit the “Request/Register an Exemption to the Agency Look & Feel” form for the following exemptions which are detected automatically:
- Adobe Acrobat (PDF):
Adobe Acrobat files are exempt from this specification.
- Other proprietary formats (e.g., Word, Excel):
The EPA standard formats for publishing information on the Web are HTML and PDF. Proprietary formats (wpd, doc, xls, ppt) should be used only when absolutely necessary (e.g., when providing forms for customers to complete and submit or for spreadsheets that they will use).
- Outdated Information:
Treat outdated information according to Web Content Types and Review Procedure. Refer to Managing Outdated Pages for more information.
- Wide pages:
Pages with very wide data tables or graphics that cannot be configured otherwise may use the secondary template (no sidebar) found on the templates page. However, all other sections of the page must still appear and meet the specification. This exemption is a last resort, to be used only when a page cannot be designed in any other way.
- Adobe Acrobat (PDF):
Required Steps for Waivers from "Look and Feel" Specifications
Offices may request a waiver to the required design and navigation elements of the "Look and Feel" specifications for one particular page or a series of pages. Waivers for certain pages may be necessary for reasons that include, but are not limited to, the application of the specifications causing a reduction of specific functionality or a reduced quality of customer service. Evidence must be provided supporting such claims.
- Request a waiver:
- Prepare an email message or memorandum from the Office Director (or regional equivalent) responsible for the pages.
- Provide the reasons for the waiver request, the URL for the non-compliant page(s), if available, and a point of contact.
- Send the request to the National Content Manager and National Infrastructure Manager, found on the Web Council membership list
- OPA and OEI will jointly evaluate waiver requests and make a decision within 10 working days. If no decision is made by then, the relevant materials may be posted to the Web site, but the delay does not permanently excuse the materials from meeting the specification.
- If the waiver is later rejected, the National Content Manager and the National Infrastructure Manager will work with the requesting office to create a schedule for changing the materials to meet the “Look and Feel” specifications.
- EPA Web "Look and Feel"
- "Request/Register an Exemption to the Agency Look & Feel" form
- OPA staff reviewing Office and Region areas
- National Content Manager and National Infrastructure Manager contact information
- Web Content Types and Review Procedure
- Managing Outdated Pages
Name Complying with epa.gov “Look and Feel”
Required or Recommended Required
Effective date 09/07/2006
Date approved 08/16/2006
Category Page Elements
Web Council review by 08/16/2008 (or earlier if deemed necessary by the Web Council)
Governing Policy Web Governance and Management (PDF) Intranet(5 pp, 339K, About PDF)