Websites are an essential tool for government to interact with the public and deliver information and services to California residents. The Website Standards policy is designed to strengthen the security, usability, accessibility and quality of California Secretary of State websites through standardization and adoption of best practices. This policy will foster a consistent look and feel and a common navigational framework across government, helping users recognize they are accessing official California Secretary of State information. This policy also encourages the agency to design and develop websites that are accessible to people with disabilities and promotes the adoption of usability principles that adhere to usability standards for website development.
As part of the Website Standards Policy, California Secretary of State must incorporate the mandatory website elements identified in this section for all public-facing websites within the SOS domain.
Websites shall include a strong brand presence for the California Secretary of State. The use of consistent design elements will help promote a standard look-and-feel while also improving the overall user experience.
The header provides a consistent, seamless look-and-feel to the State's web presence. The header elements are:
- State Branding – The California Secretary of State logo shall be placed in the top left corner of the header area inside a horizontal band. The logo must contain a hyperlink to the WWW.SOS.CA.GOV website.
- California Secretary of State Branding – A California Secretary of State logo must be used for identification. The logo must be clear and contain legible text. When the California Secretary of State logo is not available, the state seal should be used in its place followed by the California Secretary of State title.
- Navigation – Provide a direct link to the division landing pages within the website. Ensure link names are clear and concise and accurately represent the destination content. Ensure that the primary and secondary navigational elements are consistent and provides navigation on all web pages throughout the website.
- Search – A search button or hyperlink must be present inside the main navigation or header area.
The content area on the California Secretary of State’s website provides a space for the agency to include program specific content using a template. Key elements of the content area shall include:
- Main Content – California Secretary of State’s essential programs or digital service offerings targeting California residents, visitors, businesses, and government entities. Digital services include the delivery of digital information (e.g., data or content) and transactional services (e.g., online forms, benefits applications) across a variety of platforms, devices, and delivery mechanisms (e.g., websites, mobile applications, and social media).
- Sidebar – California Secretary of State's navigation bars to provide continued navigation throughout the subpages.
The footer must appear at the bottom of all California Secretary of State web pages.
- Link to California Secretary of State’s Website Help specific to the published website.
- Link to California Secretary of State’s Accessibility specific to the published website.
- Contact information or link to contact information of the California Secretary of State that owns the website so there is no question as to which Agency/state entity the user may contact.
All California Secretary of State websites must adhere to all applicable state, federal laws, guidelines and regulations outlined in this section. Per SAM Section 4833 and California AB 434, all state agencies/entities are responsible for ensuring their public websites are accessible to people with disabilities. This also include contractors working for these agencies. Key guidelines and resources of web accessibility shall include:
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 - All state agencies in California are required to ensure that their websites conform to Level AA standards of WCAG 2.2.
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines - The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are part of a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the Internet.
- SIMM Section 25 IT Accessibility Resource Guide - Intended to provide an overview of digital accessibility, drawing from and identifying the extensive information already available. Federal and state governments, as well as the higher education communities, have been working even before the enactment of Section 508 in 1998 to improve the accessibility of electronic and information technology for persons with disabilities. The Resource Guide references excerpted quotes applicable to the topics discussed, along with links to the source materials for further reference. In many cases, additional links to specific language on accessibility requirements or policies are also included for individuals interested in pursuing the topics further.
- Technology Letter
Government code sections that inform state policy on digital accessibility.
- Section 11546.7
- Assembly Bill No. 434
- California Government Code Section 7405
- California Government Code Section 11135
- AB 434, Government Code Section 11546.7 - Roles and Responsibilities as the starting point to find out what you and other agency staff are required to do to comply
- Section 508 Of The Rehabilitation Act
- Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act - Section 255 of the Communications Act - Amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, requires telecommunications products and services to be accessible to people with disabilities. Manufacturers must ensure that products are "designed, developed, and fabricated to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities" when it is readily achievable to do so. Examples of telecommunications products covered include wired and wireless telecommunication devices, such as telephones (including pay phones and cellular phones), pagers, and fax machines, other products that have a telecommunication service capability, such as computers with modems, equipment that carriers use to provide services, such as a phone company's switching equipment. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for enforcing the Communications Act and has issued regulations that contain requirements based on the Board’s guidelines.
Other Related Laws & Regulations on Accessibility
Some additional federal and state laws, policies and guidelines related to accessibility can be found below.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - Accessibility should be the responsibility of every person in the chain of content creation, review, approval, distribution and posting content to the website.
- Agencies shall ensure compliance with laws, regulations, and policies regarding accessibility to digital content and to IT applications for state employees and the public in accordance with Section 4833 of the State Administrative Manual (PDF).
All public facing websites and digital services should be designed around user needs with data-driven analysis influencing management and development decisions. Agencies/state entities should use qualitative and quantitative data to determine user goals, needs, and behaviors, and continually test websites and digital services to ensure that user needs are addressed.
- Responsive Design – Ensure California Secretary of State websites are readily available to users on various devices and platforms. Websites must leverage responsive and adaptive capabilities that allow users of mobile devices, of varying sizes, equivalent access to government information and services available to desktop devices. ·
- Usability Principles – Leverage State web usability principles and standards and Federal principles featured at usability.gov