What Communication Standards Does for You (Text Version)

Below is the text version for the first podcast of the Introduction to Standards Podcast, What Communication Standards Does for You.

Welcome to the Introduction to Standards Podcast. I'm Elizabeth Spencer, and today I'll be introducing you to our brand new podcast, as well as giving a little overview about what Communication Standards is all about!

So, first thing's first. Welcome to the podcast! The idea is pretty simple: From now on, we'll post 5-10 minute long videos that describe one of the topics on Communication Standards. Want to know some of our most crucial Web, Print, and Exhibit standards? Don't have much time to listen? That's okay! We'll tell you what's required and explain how it makes your site better and your life easier.

But this is our first podcast, so we're going to start with an introduction: What are the standards? And why do we have them at all?

The most obvious reason we have standards, of course, is because there are a lot of requirements out there.

There are federal Web requirements—things you're required by law to follow. This includes Section 508, which requires that all content on federal Web sites be available to all visitors, including those with disabilities. And that means Section 508 comes into play every time you post something that's not plain text.

There are requirements set by the Office of Management and Budget. Those include things like when you can use anything that isn't a .GOV URL, and what you have to submit before doing a public survey.

There are Department of Energy-level requirements, which explain things like which sites you are allowed to link to or how can you use the DOE logo.

And, finally, there are EERE level requirements. Even though the programs are all very different, EERE is one single organization, with its own branding and identity. So EERE requires that Web sites share the same branding, use the same colors, and be written a similar way. That way, visitors can tell immediately, in a single glance: Yes! This! This is an EERE site!

But no one should have to figure out all these requirements by themselves. So Communication Standards just makes it easy:  If we know something's required at some level, we put it on Communication Standards, list it as a requirement, and then explain what you need to do to meet it.

EERE has requirements for print products, exhibits, and for managing Web projects, writing for the Web, or coding for the Web. All you have to do is follow the requirements for your product.  And you're done! That's it. You've met all of the federal, DOE, and EERE requirements.

We do the research so you don't have to, basically. And hopefully these podcasts will make it a little easier. The more familiar you are with the standards, the easier they'll be to follow.

But also, I want to remind everyone that standards are an always-evolving thing. They're not set in stone. So if you ever have any ideas, questions, or suggestions, you're always free to share them. Contact the Communication Standards Webmaster. Use the feedback boxes in the right column of the site.

You can also leave a comment on the Communication Standards blog. The blog is where we keep track of the latest updates to standards. Be sure to subscribe to email updates so you always know when something has changed. We hope you will comment and let us know if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions regarding any of the updates to the standards.

Because standards are here to help, if they're not helping you, then they're not doing their job.

In our next podcast, we'll be talking about how to start a Web project on EERE. We'll talk about how to start a project, how to submit it to the Project Review Team, and what you'll need to do before ever starting on your writing, on your content, on your coding. See you next time!