U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

EERE Communication Standards & Guidelines

Website Process and Approvals

To ensure that all EERE websites meet EERE's standards, all new Web projects must go through a review and approval process with the guidance of the Web Governance Team (WGT) before being published.

Phase I: Concept Development

Careful planning and a detailed project charter will allow you to define the scope and address any technical or content issues up front.

  1. Hold Kick-Off Meeting

    The DOE Project Lead and the Project Team hold a kick-off meeting to determine the following:

    • Site purpose
    • Audience
    • Project scope
    • Budget (including a budget for site maintenance)
    • Schedule
    • Roles
    • Statistics needs
    • Whether news and events database is needed
    • Whether additions to the EERE Publication and Product Library are needed
    • Whether a Featured Publications widget is needed
    • Whether or not you'll schedule any user-centered design techniques (such as card sorting or wireframe testing) to test your site design.
    • Any unique application needs. Read more about Web Applications and Databases.
  2. Complete the Project Information Form

    For every new project, you will first need to fill out the project information form. This form provides a basic overview of your project.

    For any non-standard elements, you must provide justification. If you do not understand how to justify some of these, bring your questions to your meeting with the WGT.

    If you're starting a user-centered design project such as a survey or card sort, complete the user-centered design project information form.

  3. Write Charter

    Create and submit a project charter based on everything you decided in the kick-off meeting. Download the template and learn more about project charters.

    If you are creating a blog, use EERE's blog charter.

  4. Meet with the Web Governance Team

    Send your Project Information Form and charter to the Web Governance Team Facilitator. If you have never worked with the WGT before, you will need to watch a short introductory PowerPoint presentation. The Web Governance Team Facilitator will organize a time for this presentation, if needed.

    • Send the completed project information form and charter to the Web Governance Team in advance of the meeting.
    • If you need more time to complete the charter, you can meet with the Web Governance Team to discuss the project information form and basic details of the project, then schedule a later meeting to review the charter.
    • If you're starting a user-centered design project the charter and introductory process overview presentation are not required. Send your completed form to the WGT Facilitator. The WGT Facilitator will let you know if your project is approved or if your team needs to call in to a WGT meeting with additional information after consulting with the EERE Web Usability Coordinator.
  5. Identify Content

    Create a content outline or content inventory to help you identify the content for your site.

  6. Create Draft Architecture

    Develop a draft of the site architecture and navigation labels for use in mockups. See Navigation and Common Terms for guidance. We recommend consulting the EERE Information Architect to help you with this step. If your project is a subsite of an office website, work with the Web Coordinator and your office's Lead Contractor to determine how the subsite will be integrated into the office's main website.

    To be sure your new architecture is intuitive for your target audiences, consider doing a card sort. (Consult the EERE Usability Coordinator for tools and techniques.)

  7. Create Mockups or Wireframes

    Develop mockups of the home page, several second-level pages, and a content page. All sites will be designed in one of the approved EERE Templates and will be hosted in the Content Management System unless they are otherwise authorized by the EERE Web Manager. For new sites and redesigns, work with the Web Template Coordinator to determine which template is best for your site.

    If you planned to test your wireframes and architecture with users, you may want to do so before coding begins. You can consult the EERE Usability Coordinator for tools and information on testing your wireframes and architecture.

Review and Approval Checkpoint

Ensure you have completed the following tasks before moving onto Phase II:

  • Schedule monthly status meetings with the Web Governance Team. These meetings should last throughout the entirety of the project. The Web Governance Team Facilitator can help you arrange these meetings.
  • The following elements must be approved by the WGT before the project team begins production:
    • Project charter
    • URL
    • Task list
    • Schedule
    • Justification for non-standard elements
    • Special application requirements.
  • Your initial IA will need to be approved by the Web Template Coordinator.

Phase II: Content

Content drives the architecture. In this phase, complete your content so you can determine the final architecture of the site.

  1. Write Content

    Write the content for your Web site.

    • Follow the EERE Style Guide
    • Use the Web Content Guidelines to ensure that your content meets the standards for elements such as headers, intro text, subheaders, photo captions, and alt text.
  2. Optimize Content

    Optimize your content for search engine ranking. Read Optimizing Content for Search or contact the EERE Search Specialist for help.

  3. Select Images and Documents

    Select any charts, graphs, photos, PDFs, or Word documents that will be included in the center content. Format them according to the standards for graphics, native files, or PDFs.

  4. Finalize Architecture

    Develop final architecture and navigation labels based on final content.

Review and Approval Checkpoint

Ensure the following tasks are completed before moving onto Phase III:

Phase III: Production

Below are the basic steps for coding and site production.

  1. Create Graphics and Prepare for Production

    • Speak with your lead contractor to determine whether NREL, ActioNET, or contractor creates navigation and header graphics. Develop graphics per graphic guidelines.
  2. Prepare Content for Coding

    • If ActioNET is coding your site, refer to your ActioNET Technical Contact for requirements prior to providing content and graphics.
  3. Code the Site

    • The Web Coordinator and Project Lead will determine whether NREL, ActioNET, or the contractor will code the site.
    • Use the QA Checklist to ensure the site meets EERE technical standards.

Review and Approval Checkpoint

Ensure the following tasks are completed before moving onto Phase IV:

  • Perform a self-assessment on the coding using the QA Checklist.
  • For applications not hosted on the central EERE infrastructure, ensure applications undergo a security scan as detailed on the Web Applications and Databases page.

Phase IV: Approval and Site Publishing

When coding is completed, your site or application will need to go through a QA and program review before it goes live.

  1. Schedule QAs

    Work with your lead contractor to schedule the following QAs (allow 5 business days for QA reviews).

    • Technical
    • Template
    • Content (completed by content provider)
    • Search/Optimization
  2. Make Changes

    Make changes based on the results of QAs.

  3. Coordinate Pre Go-Live Tasks

    • Notify the ActioNET Technical Contact of any necessary bookmark notices or redirects (as needed)
    • Submit a marketing plan for the project to the WGT.
    • Determine a go-live date and schedule it with the WGT
  4. Program Review

    Have DOE staff review the site. Make changes based on their feedback.

Review and Approval Checkpoint

Ensure the following tasks are completed before moving onto Phase V:

  • Ensure that all critical changes identified in QA have been made.
  • Obtain review and approval from DOE reviewers.
  • Obtain approval to go live through the Web Governance Team, who will coordinate all approvals with the EERE Web Manager.
  • Go live with site.

Phase V: Maintenance and Ongoing Refinements

Maintenance of your site includes keeping content current, tracking Web site statistics, assessing user feedback, and planning for future changes.

  1. Write a Maintenance Plan

    Maintenance plans must be submitted for all sites and subsites. Download the template and learn more about maintenance plans.

  2. Consider Further Site Analysis

    Usability testing and content analysis are valuable tools that can help you refine and improve your sites.

    • Usability testing can help you refine a site's information architecture and navigation. Consult the EERE Usability Coordinator for more information.
    • Content analysis can help you identify content gaps, duplication, and other areas for improvement.
  3. Stay Informed

    The EERE Web Standards are regularly updated to meet the changing needs of the EERE Web community. New hardware and software technologies may also be implemented for the EERE Web site as needed. Subscribe to receive updates check the Communication Standards Blog to stay apprised of the latest updates.

  4. Reassess and Certify Content

    About 18 months after the launch of your project, your program area will be asked to conduct a content review and reassess your website and determine one of the following:

    • The content is approved as still current and valid.
    • The content needs updating (with notes on what specifically must be updated) or extensive modification.
    • The content may be archived and taken down.

Review and Approval Checkpoint

Submit your maintenance plan to the DOE Project Lead, the EERE Web Manager, and the Web Governance Team Facilitator.