Website Requirements Checklist

Use this checklist to help guide you and confirm you have met all necessary requirements before launching your site. This list combines the most important federal and Department guidelines and best practices for federal websites.

Website Requirements

  Host the website on a .gov.
  Ensure that the site is mobile-friendly, per the Connected Government Act of 2018.
  Provide a link to the homepage from every page on the website.
  Display a statement of content ownership or management on every page.
  Include an About Us page that explains the site’s mission, governance, and responsible parties.
  Provide an easily findable way for users to contact you.
  Includes a search function to help the public easily locate information.
  Link to a policy that explains your agency's criteria for choosing external sites.
  Include a link to a page describing your privacy policies.
  Provide links to plug-ins for all non-html files or page elements.
  Provide a link that explains how users can access information under the Freedom of Information Act.
  Link to and in the footer of your website.
  Provide a user-friendly message for 404-error a page.
  Do not post empty pages or pages “under construction.”
  Do not link to political sites or use the site for direct or indirect lobbying.
  Conduct a 508 assessment to ensure your site is accessible to people using assistive technologies.
  Obtain OMB approval for any efforts to collect information from the public.
  Obtain permission for any copyrighted material that may appear on your site.


  Use standard colors for visited and unvisited links.
  Use meaningful language for links rather than “click here.”
  Indicate the file type and size for downloadable files.
  Present links to foreign language materials in their language.
  Use an exit notification to identify and disclaim links to non-federal government Web sites.


  Acknowledge with an automated response whenever a user submits a completed form.

Check box controls should allow users to:

  • Select one or more items
  • Clear checked box selections
  • Select options by clicking on the box itself or its label
  Clearly and consistently distinguish required data entry fields from optional data entry fields.
  Provide radio buttons to choose one response from mutually exclusive options.

Managing the Website

  Document and enforce your sites content management roles, procedures, and style guide.
  Establish a content management plan and schedule to review and archive outdated content.
  Set up an analytics program to gather information about your users’ behavior, review data, and make site improvements.
  Consult your records officer to determine the retention schedule and format for your web records.

Keep in mind

  Document and enforce your sites content management roles, procedures, and style guide.
  Follow the Federal Web Managers Council’s recommendations for managing web content.
  Consult the Research-based Usability Guidelines when designing your information architecture and navigation.
  Consider conducting usability testing to ensure users can easily and successfully complete their tasks.
  Follow best practices for search engine optimization.

Write for the web using the HHS Web Style Guide

  Ensure that you have met all required policies for social media.
  Write all content in plain language, consistent with the Plain Writing Act of 2010 and the government’s plain language principles.
  Provide access for people with limited English proficiency in compliance with Executive Order 13166.
  Use electronic forms to conduct official business with the public to the extent practicable, in accordance with the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA, Pub. L. 105–277).
Content created by Digital Communications Division (DCD)
Content last reviewed