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1. Basics

This section explains the basic concepts of the communication strategy of the European Commission via the Internet and its practical implementation. It contains an overview of the communication policy (including links to all relevant documents), explains the structure of the europa.eu domain and tells you how the different sites in this domain are managed.

Activities

As a staff member involved in site production and/or maintenance and especially if you are a new staff member of a web unit, you should:

  • Get to know the Information and Communication Unit of your DG or your institution. Talk to them and ask them to explain what is the unit’s communication policy for the current year and the year to follow.
  • If you are working in a Commission DG, read the relevant communication documents in order to familiarise yourself with the ‘aim’ of the Commission’s online communication.
  • Start attending the EUROPA Forum meetings as often as possible: it will help you get to know the web teams of Commission DGs and services. Get involved in a group of Internet editors. After you have contacted these two teams they will add your e-mail address to all the relevant distribution lists and you will be informed in any urgent actions needs to be taken or if any information needs to be distributed
  • Familiarise yourself with the legal aspects of information published on europa.eu
  • Contact IPG team should you have any questions about the guide.
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1.1. What is EUROPA?

EUROPA is the European Union's Web portal accessible via the address http://europa.eu. It is managed by the European Commission (DG COMM) in co-ordination with all EU institutions. Given the central role of the Commission, the name EUROPA is also widely used to refer to both this portal and the European Commission’s own website hosted at the address http://ec.europa.eu. DG Communication has direct responsibility for the top-level pages of Europa, such as the homepage and a number of general information sites directly accessible from it, as well as for the Commission’s homepage and the overall co-ordination of the sites of the Commission’s directorates-general and services. Each institution and each directorate-general or service are responsible for the individual style and contents of their own site.

EUROPA provides a vast array of information on European integration concerning the European Union's objectives, policies and institutional set-up. It is designed to be as user-friendly as possible in line with the EU institutions' commitment to openness and one of its main objectives is to make information accessible to the greatest number of people possible. This means not only dealing with the problems posed by all forms of physical handicap or those faced by all the people on the wrong side of the digital divide, but also providing information in as many EU languages as possible. Compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, level AA is guaranteed, at least for the top level pages. For the same reason multilingualism is a priority for the Commission, and the number of EUROPA official languages is bound to be further increased with the next rounds of enlargement.

The EUROPA site was launched in February 1995 on the occasion of the G7 ministerial meeting on the information society organised by the Commission in Brussels. Although it was originally designed for that particular event, EUROPA expanded rapidly and the Commission decided to turn it into a useful information resource for everyone, specialising in all matters covered by the EU Treaties and the work of the European Institutions. The general public makes great use of EUROPA and statistics show an average of 165 million page viewings per month.

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1.2. Structure of EUROPA

The EUROPA family contains a large number of sites, ranging from the top level inter-institutional EUROPA site, the first entry point for the general public, to specialised sites giving information to a very specific population. This chapter gives an overview of the sites that are part of the EUROPA family. It shows which sites are constructed following the rules of this Information Providers Guide.

Strictly speaking, EUROPA only refers to the top level institution-independent site http://europa.eu. However, as explained in the previous section, the term EUROPA is often used to refer to all sites managed by the Commission. These include the general public sites with URLs of type xxx.europa.eu and the Commission site http://ec.europa.eu. The Inventory of EUROPA websites offers comprehensive list with detalied information for each website: the URL, the domain, the webmaster, the DG, the type of site, its audience, the theme or topic, the statistics, the technology, the number of pages, etc.

The top level pages of EUROPA are usually the first point of contact a citizen will have with the EU websites. The site user does not necessarily need to know the structure of the EU or who does what. The same holds for the other general public sites which are adressed with a specific name such as xxx.europa.eu because of their particular aim (the section Types of sites provides a detailed description of the sites that are part of the EUROPA family). On the other hand, the Commission pages concern only the European Commission and may require some more specialised knowledge.

The sites of all EU institutions (European Parliament, European Commission, Council, etc.) are part of the EUROPA family and can be accessed through the main EUROPA site, serving as the gateway to these institutions. The appartainance to the family is shown by the URL of the institutional sites which has the form http://institution.europa.eu, such as for example http://europarl.europa.eu

This guide describes the rules to which sites managed by the Commission have to comply.

 

Structure of europa.eu

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1.2.1. europa.eu

The interinstitutional "europa.eu" site brings together information from all the European institutions. Even though each institution manages its own site, EUROPA is designed as the starting point for all information concerning the European Union. Around 30 million visitors a month start their search for EU information from the homepage which is available in 24 languages.

The aim of the europa.eu top level pages are twofold:

  • to help people find official EU information and services on the Web
  • to provide information on how the EU operates.

The top level pages are run by DG Communication on behalf of the EU institutions. 
Interinstitutional Editorial Committee was created to set up a permanent structure to coordinate the development of the institutions’ websites. The Committee meet on a regular basis to discuss the development of these pages and also to discuss the EU's Web presence more generally.

Description

Basic guide to EU and policies

The top level of the EU's website offers basic information on how the EU operates.

The top level pages offer a beginner's guides to EU policies. This section is also under review to respond to user feedback and to make the pages more dynamic (eg including updated news and events in each policy field).

Interinstitutional sites

Sites that have an interinstitutional mission and content or which are not linked to a particular institution or DG can be hosted at EU level.

Examples of sites which have an EU character include:

  • Press Releases RAPID is for journalists.
  • EU newsroom gathers news from EU institutions.
  • Europe Direct is for citizens looking for advice or help in their neighbourhood, or for a local forum promoting dialogue and awareness about EU policies.
  • Transparency Register offers a single access to Civil Society to register and contribute to EU policy making.

Sites targeting the general public and providing EU information not related to a single Institution or DG can also have an europa.eu name. For more details see the section on types of sites.

Linking service

The europa.eu site serves as a portal or linking service to EU information online. The site is divided into 6 main topics:

There are around 80 pages behind the home page which send visitors to many 1000s of different sources of EU information. Each link is explained briefly to help users in their search. The two most popular sections are About the EU and Publications and documents. The home page also provides quick links to EU institutions and bodies, as well as contact information, news and features.

The design, layout and navigation of the site was tested extensively on users and was designed for accessibility and quick download times.

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1.2.2. ec.europa.eu - Commission sites

The Commission site provides access to great deal of information provided by the different Directorates-General, Services and Commissioners private offices. This information may be administrative or thematic and relates to the executive role of the European Commission – such as its legislation and policy initiatives, work programmes, services, official documents, news and current affairs (press releases, events, etc.). The Commission site also provides the contact points for the various Commission departments, the Representations and the Delegations.

Definition

The different sites that in their entirety compose the Commission site are managed by the individual Directorates-General and services in a decentralised way.
Each site, however, must fit into the overall structure of the Commission's site, which means that they must:

Commission sites can be divided into two main categories:

  1. 'Generic' sites or portals (which include policy sites, priority sites, audience portals, service sites e.a.)
  2. Organisational sites (which include the Commissioner sites, the DG sites and the sites of the Representations).

The Commission pages are easily recognisable by their banner/template. A few examples of Commission templates can be seen at the following sites: European Commission, EuropeAid, Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020, and so on.

DG Communication has direct responsibility for the Commission’s home page and for the overall co-ordination of the sites of the Commission’s directorates-general and services. Each directorate or individual service is responsible for the contents of its own site.

Some principles should apply to all categories:

  • sites should comply with the common look and feel to contribute to the corporate image of the Commission or the European Union as a whole;
  • sites should link to existing central services (e.g. "EUR-Lex", "Rapid", etc.) to prevent duplication, avoid contradictions and simplify maintenance;
  • sites should follow the “inverted pyramid” approach: the top-level pages should explain the policies in plain language and general terms for a wider, non-specialist audience. More specialised and detailed information should only be provided at deeper levels, and links to individual files should be properly introduced and explained;
  • sites should be as multilingual as possible, especially in the "top-levels", and should always explain their chosen language policy in a dedicated section;
  • sites should provide the widest possible access to the information on EUROPA, even when part of that information is actually produced by another DG or Service;
  • sites should provide contact details for the authors and/or webmasters, and particularly a "contact" button leading to one or more functional mailboxes belonging to the site itself.
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1.3. Web addresses / URLs

Mandatory requirement

All official websites of the European Institutions and Agencies must use URL address in the second level domain europa.eu with the following syntax: (ec.)europa.eu/sitename

 

View all IPG Rules

For the purposes of consistency of presentation, search engine optimization and to project a corporate identity of the EUROPA pages, there are several requirements related to the creation of web addresses and file names.

Domain names

Following a decision of the Secretariat-Generalpdf(123 kB) Choose translations of the previous link , the web pages of the European institutions are using a common second level domain europa.eu. The use of other second level domain names is not allowed for hosting official EU sites. Nevertheless in order to protect them from abuse by third parties a certain number of second level domain names have been reserved by the EU institutions at the start up of the .eu domain

The second level domain europa.eu is managed by the Commission.

The document "Règles et procédures pour l’attribution d’adresses de sites web gérés par les institutions, organes et organismes de l’Union européenne dans le domaine .eupdf(33 kB) Choose translations of the previous link " issued by the Interinstitutional Editorial Committee for Internet (CEiii) describes the detailed rules for allocation of higher level domain names within the europa.eu domain.

The names of the institutions’ and agencies' sites are composed by adding a third level identification (for example for the Commission ec.europa.eu or the Parliament europarl.europa.eu)

Executive agencies of the Commission can have their own fourth level domain name within the third level domain ec.europa.eu.

Third level names other than institution names can be attributed for special sites, subject to the approval of the CEiii. The creation of such third level names should nevertheless be the exception. Preference must be given to the creation of sites within the europa.eu or ec.europa.eu domain.

Allocation of site names within the europa.eu or ec.europa.eu domain is governed by the rules explained in the section 'Types of websites' .

Generally speaking the following rules apply:

  • Institution independent sites or sites that have an interinstitutional mission and content should use a sub-address of the europa.eu domain. These sites will always target the general public. They must use the Interinstitutional template; no specific institution should claim the 'ownership' of the site, even if the site is exclusively managed by that particular institution or DG.
  • Commission sites should use a sub-address in the ec.europa.eu domain and the Commission template. Commission sites will mostly target a more specialised public, but can contain sections that are more oriented towards the general public.

As explained in the section 'Types of sites', it is important to keep a homogeneous approach to the site structure of the Commission sites. Information about a specific topic should be presented in the context of the policy to which it belongs. This can however create naming problems when that topic needs special promotion because of its high importance. The URL of the subsite presenting the topic can be too long to be promoted.

To answer this problem, shorter 'virtual' addresses can be created that will redirect to the real address.

If you on the other hand are looking for a short version of a EUROPA-related URL, using a random code, please follow the instructions available on the URL Shortener page.

Syntax of URLs and its promotion

Websites must use the following syntax: (ec.)europa.eu/sitename.

URLs must not be promoted to the general public before the URLs have been approved and set up. The address must be checked in a browser before being used (e.g. social media, press releases), printed on promotional material (e.g. posters, leaflets) or referred to in audio/video materials.

URLs must not be printed in upper case: (EC.)EUROPA.EU/SITENAME is not the same as (ec.)europa.eu/sitename and the upper case examples will not work.

URL structure

Sites must be structured by subject, and not by language. Files are not segregated into separate language-specific directories. Rather, language must be reflected in the name of the web pages themselves. Thus, all the different language versions of any given document must be found together in a single directory.

Filenames for different language versions of the same web document are assigned as follows: The 'base-name' for each version must be exactly the same, and expressed in English.

A suffix is added to the 'base-name', preceded by an underscore character '_', indicating the language of the document, followed by the file extension. The 'standard suffix' uses the ISO abbreviation for the language in question (_bg, _cs, _da, _de, _et, _el, _en, _es, _fr, _ga, _it, _lv, _lt, _hr, _hu, _mt, _nl, _pl, _pt, _ro, _sk, _sl, _fi, _sv) (as in index_en.htm, index_bg.htm, index_cs.htm…).

The multilingual index page used as default has to be named without any language suffix.

All names of directories and files must be in lower case to avoid problems of compatibility between platforms which are case-sensitive (e.g. UNIX) and those which are not (e.g. DOS/Windows).

Multiple word names

In case a file name or URL contains multiple words, it is necessary to separate these words by preferably hyphen '-' (Correct: multiple-words_en.htm) or underscore '_' (Correct: multiple_words_en.htm). While there is no technical difference between these two options, words separated by hyphens are more intelligible to search engines and webmasters are urged to choose them.

For reasons of clarity and search engine optimization, the use of merged multiple word names is not allowed (Incorrect: multiplewords_en.htm). For the same reasons the file names should be meaningful words or phrases and not series of numbers (Incorrect: 546846321_en.htm).

Do not include unnecessary words such as 'and' and 'the' on the folder and file names.

Request a web address/URL

You should follow the procedure described on how to request a web address.

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1.4. EUROPA management

The sites in the europa.eu domain are managed in a decentralised way. This means that each Community institution or body, including each Commission Directorate-General (DG) is responsible for the creation, management and update of the pages and sites that concern them.
The advantage of this is that content is added and updated more quickly and is done closer to the source of the information concerned, thereby improving its accuracy.
Possible disadvantages concern the difficulties in coordinating the creation, updating and evolution of such decentralised sites. It is also more difficult to keep a common presentational identity, which can lead to citizens’ disorientation. There is also always a risk of duplicating information.

To achieve optimal coordination europa.eu is managed in a very structured way. It is based on 3 basic principles: strategy and planning of overall site policy, day-to-day coordination of websites, and types of roles involved in management of the websites.

The strategy and planning is ensured at committee level. Representatives from DG’s and/or institutions are appointed accordingly, ensuring coordination among the respective entities. The day-to-day work of course takes place at Information and Communication Unit or Web Sector level. Coordination and support is ensured by the EUROPA team in DG COMM with technical backup from your DG’s Information Resources Manager (IRM) who can, if necessary, receive the support of the Directorate-General of Informatics (DIGIT). Depending on the DG’s web team and/or site(s) organisation, many different roles are described in this section. Ideally, one role would correspond to one person, but in practice, one person will assume several roles at various times and at various points in the process.

How to find out more

  • Find out your DG’s representative in every committee described in this section. You are most likely one of them!
  • Get acquainted with your DG’s IRM team. They are always informed about technological developments and can help with most technical problems.

 

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1.4.1. Governance/Committees

The strategy and planning of the overall policy of the sites on EUROPA is managed via different high-level committees.

At the interinstitutional level (europa.eu), it is the Interinstitutional Editorial Committee for Internet (CEiii) that ensures the coordination.

The governance structure for managing sites within the Commission's domain (ec.europa.eu) is defined in its Internet strategy paper "Communicating about Europe via the Internet - Engaging the citizenspdf(338 kB) Choose translations of the previous link ". It foresees the appointment of an EUROPA editor who is the final decision-maker on all daily operations for the content of the top layers of the EUROPA and Commission websites. The editor is assisted by an editorial board composed of permanent members and complemented where necessary and appropriate by Internet editors designated by their DGs. A technical committee steers all technical decisions necessary to offer a modern and powerful Internet platform, based on input from the webmaster community represented through the EUROPA Webmasters Forum.

EUROPA Forum Technical Committee EUROPA ECN - External Communications Network Interinstitutional Editorial Committee

 

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1.4.1.1. Interinstitutional Editorial Committee (CEiii)

The Inter-institutional Editorial Committee on the internet (CEiii) is a permanent structure to coordinate the development of the institutions’ websites and oversee the inter-institutional pages of EUROPA.

Introduction

The CEiii facilitates the exchange of information, shares good practices and creates synergies between institutions and other EU bodies on digital communication. It deals with a variety of subjects, from editorial issues to technological development.

Each institution retains complete autonomy over its websites and other online channels, as well as takes decisions on digital strategy, operations and resources according to its internal rules and procedures.

The CEiii was organised in 2001 on the basis of recommendationspdf from the Inter‑institutional Internet Task Force and works according to a mandatepdf. It is chaired by DG Communication, the Commission department responsible for the EUROPA website. It meets every two months.

CEiii's work – examples

Inter-institutional EUROPA websites and services:

Editorial matters:

  • Development of general editorial rules
  • Establishment of reliable and systematic links to the institutions’ and OP document databases: EU Bookshop, TED, EURLEX, etc.
  • Coordination of online promotion of important EU events, e.g. European elections, Nobel Peace Prize, Europe Day, etc.
  • Cooperation to enhance social media outreach at inter-institutional level

Standardisation and re-use of web components:

Activity Report

Collaborative workspace

Meetings

Members

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1.4.1.2. External Communication Network (ECN)

The main mission of the ECN is to exchange best practices on preparation and implementation of communication plans and other communication practices. It also aims at facilitating DG COMM's assistance to other DGs on technical issues and strives towards a more effective and cost-efficient use of tools (audiovisual, Internet, citizens' help-lines, etc.) and evaluation methods.

Description

The ECN, composed of all DGs' Information and Communication Heads of Unit, was created in 2002 and was relaunched with the Action Plan to Improve Communicating Europe by the Commissionpdf Choose translations of the previous link  (SEC(2005) 985/final, see action 4).

The members of the ECN are the Heads of the DGs Communication Units as described in the Action Plan. However, other representatives of DGs may attend ECN meetings and working groups, if the agenda requires.

Mission

Within the context of EUROPA, the ECN has the following mandate:

  • Endorse the vision and general orientations proposed by the editor for EUROPA and the Commission's websites.
  • Monitor central Internet services provided to line DGs and give feedback on efficiency and added value.
  • Propose options/solutions for the structure of sites and wider technological developments and tools.
  • Raise and maintain awareness of senior management as to the importance of Internet communication.
  • Oversee the provision of training for Internet communication (editorial, technical skills and research).

Organisation and working

The ECN meets approximately 5-6 times a year on the basis of established agendas. The meetings of the ECN are organised and chaired by DG COMM.

The ECN has four working groups, in charge of the implementation of the Action Plan:

  • Working Group I  : Communications Planning/Planning Ahead (Chaired and managed by COMM)
  • Working Group II : Communication Tools (Chaired and managed by COMM)
  • Working Group III: Human Resources (Chaired and managed by HR)
  • Working Group IV: Networks (Chaired and managed by COMM)

Meetings

The ECN meets approximately 5-6 times a year on the basis of established agendas. The meetings of the ECN are organised and chaired by DG COMM.

Minutes of meetings 

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1.4.1.3. EUROPA Forum

In accordance to the Communication Towards the e-Commission: Europa 2nd generationpdf Choose translations of the previous link  adopted on 6 July 2001 (C(2001)1753), a EUROPA Forum has been created. Its role was confirmed by the Internet Strategy Communication Communicating about Europe via the Internetpdf(338 kB) Choose translations of the previous link .

The EUROPA Forum is made up by the representative(s) of every Directorate-General and department of the Commission.
Each Directorate-General and department shall formally nominate the person(s) responsible for the websites of the Directorate-General or department as its representative(s) to the Europa Forum.

Webmasters from the other Community institutions may attend the meetings of the EUROPA Forum as observers.

Meetings

Members

Collaborative workspace

Mission

As a formal instance of EUROPA’s management structure as defined in the Communication C(2001)1753, the Forum will:

  • Express the needs of the webmasters in terms of infrastructure, tools, training strategy.
  • Take part in the updating of the Information Providers Guide (IPG).
  • Exchange best practices and organise workshops.
  • Participate in the work of the committees of EUROPA's management structure.

Organisation and working

The Forum shall appoint a President, or joint Presidents, for a minimum period of six months. It shall decide its work programme and working calendar.

The EUROPA Forum shall nominate its representative(s) in the Technical Committee. The representative(s) in this committee shall report the opinions of the EUROPA Forum.

Meetings of the EUROPA Forum shall be convened by the President(s).

The President(s) shall draw up the draft agenda for the meetings of the EUROPA Forum.

The presidency is responsible of the secretarial aspects of the Forum, with the exception of drafting the minutes which are assumed by the incoming presidency

The President(s) may decide to invite experts to talk on particular matters, at the request of a member or on its own initiative.

The EUROPA Forum may organise practical workshops and may create working parties to examine particular issues. The working parties shall report back to the Forum.

Voting

If deemed necessary by the members of the EUROPA Forum, the Forum will adopt its voting rules in due course.

Functional Mailbox

The EUROPA Forum has its own functional mailbox, so if you wish to contact the presidents, please address your email to EC-EUROPA-FORUM@ec.europa.eu where presidents of the forum will find it.

Brief history

The Forum was initiated by Benedictus Nieuwenhuis and Giulio Groppi. Since January 1998, the EUROPA Forum has gathered informally every two or three months representatives with web responsibilities from all Commission services.

  • 1st semester 2014: KUKUCKA Pavol (SANCO) and BLOCH Didier (TRADE)
  • 2nd semester 2013: BORMANS Yves (MOVE) and VANDEN BORRE Alain (REGIO)
  • 1st semester 2013:  ZOURNATZI Tina (MARE) and STRONCER Dominik (MARKT)  
  • 2nd semester 2012: SANTOS Fabricio (HOME) and DELEHAYE Dominique (JRC)
  • 1st semester 2012: JONES Linda (JUST) and SNAJDAR Alexandr (INFSO)
  • 2nd semester 2011: BORTIN Annika (ESTAT) and AMARO Sergio (EPSO)
  • 1st semester 2011: CHIANALE Patrizia (EAC) and SODJA Luka (ELARG)
  • 1st semester 2010: KOCH Axel (ECHO) and FERAUX Fabian (EACEA)
  • 1st semester 2010: LOCKETT Anthony (EMPL) and CAVALLO Sandra (ENTR)
  • 2nd semester 2009: Chris MAXWELL + Michel GERDAY (ECFIN) and Silvia BOMBARDONE + Massimo LUPO (OP)
  • 1st semester 2009: Michel VAN KERCKHOVEN (COMP) and Werner VAN OSTA(DGT)
  • 2nd semester 2008: Didrik DE SCHAETZEN (AIDCO) and Angeles NOGUEROL (COMM)
  • 1st semester 2008 to June 2008: Marinus CHRIST (SJ) and Nathalie COLLIN (BUDG)
  • 2nd semester 2007: Anne WEBEL ELLMES (SG) and Paul SPYCKERELLE (AGRI)
  • 1st semester 2007: Didier BLOCH (TRADE) and Benedictus NIEUWENHUIS (RELEX)
  • 2nd semester 2006: Keitch JOELS (COMM)
  • 1st semester 2006: Patrizia CHIANALE (EAC) and Guido WERKERS (SANCO)
  • 2nd semester 2005: Robert ANDRECS (TAXUD) and Wolfgang PETZOLD (REGIO)
  • 1st semester 2005 to June 2005: Hans CHRISTOFFERSEN (FISH) and Anne DELAUNOIS (MARKT)
  • 2nd semester 2004: José ARCOS ORTIZ, DG INFSO and Christian HUWAERT, DG JRC.
  • 1st semester 2004: Stephen GOSDEN (RTD) and Carina ARO (ENV)
  • 2nd semester 2003: Wilfried SCHOL (AGRI) and Marguerite GAZZE (TREN)
  • 1st semester 2003: Terence WHALEY (EMPL) and Linda JONES (COMP)
  • 2nd semester 2002: Carina ARO (ENTR) and Robert GANGL (ECFIN)
  • In September 2001, the DGs having officially nominated their representatives to the Forum in accordance with the Communication "EUROPA 2nd generation", Brigitte ARNOLD-WÖRTZ and Marinus CHRIST were elected as new co-chairmen for an eight months period.
  • In January 2001, Madeleine KIHRLBERG and Gerald MESSIAEN were elected as new co-chairmen.

Training materials

EUROPA Forum organises training and workshops. Check if any material is useful for you in the Training chapter.

 

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1.4.1.4. EUROPA editor

In accordance with the Internet Strategy Communication Communicating about Europe via the Internetpdf(338 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  an EUROPA editor has been appointed. He/she will be responsible for the day-to-day management of EUROPA from an editorial standpoint.

Mission

  • Define the vision for EUROPA and Commission websites.
  • Day-to-day operational management of EUROPA and Commission sites and pages to ensure editorial, linguistic and graphical consistency of corporate sites and pages and projection of a coherent image/identity.
  • Strategic and operational planning (short, medium and long term), including identifying the annual resource needs, on the basis of input from DGs and following consultation withDG DIGIT.
  • Ensure compliance and quality control with respect to the IPG.
  • Communicate and promote internet activities in relation with the development of a European public sphere.
  • Mediate and ensure cooperation between DGs.

Organisation and working

The EUROPA editor is appointed by the Director-General of DG COMM.

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1.4.1.5. Editorial Committee EUROPA

In accordance with the Internet Strategy Communication Communicating about Europe via the Internetpdf(338 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  the EUROPA Editorial Committee was created.

The Editorial Committee, chaired by the EUROPA Editor, is composed of permanent members of SPP, SG, DGT, OP, CONNECT & FPI and DIGIT and complemented (where required and/or on their own request) by the Internet editors of DGs, Representations or by representatives of relevant project teams.

Mission

As a formal instance of EUROPA’s management structure as defined in the Communication Communicating about Europe via the Internetpdf Choose translations of the previous link  , the Editorial Committee will

  • Assist and support the Editor to ensure editorial and graphical consistency on corporate sites and pages.
  • Provide line DGs with guidelines on how to effectively present their content on the Internet, including advice on comprehensive multimedia packages.
  • Define functional needs for the development/delivery of Internet tools.
  • Recommend the level of multilingualism of individual websites.

Organisation and working

The Editorial Committee is presided by the EUROPA Editor who decides its work programme and working calendar.

Meetings

The Editorial Committee meets approximately 6 times a year on the basis of established agendas. The meetings are organised and chaired by DG COMM.

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1.4.1.6. Internet editors

The Internet editors provide and manage editorial content for the web pages and sites of line DGs and Representations, in particular for the citizen-oriented pages. They also assist DG COMM in implementing the Internet strategy throughout EUROPA.

This is an interesting but also demanding job. Internet editors therefore need:

  • a good knowledge of the possibilities and limitations of the Internet
  • good writing skills for the Internet (or at least editorial experience)
  • strategic understanding and communication background
  • good knowledge of the corporate rules for site construction as laid down in the IPG
  • a well-defined level of "authority" to take decisions on web-related matters

Meetings

List of meetings, held on: 

 

Subgroups

Important documents

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1.4.1.7. Technical Committee EUROPA

In accordance with the Internet Strategy Communication Communicating about Europe via the Internetpdf Choose translations of the previous link , the EUROPA Technical Committee was created.

The Technical Committee, chaired by DG DIGIT, is composed of permanent members of DGs COMM, OP, CONNECT, SCIC, DGT, and the chairman of the EUROPA Forum.

Mission

As a formal instance of EUROPA’s management structure as defined in the communication Communicating about Europe via the Internetpdf Choose translations of the previous link , the Technical Committee will:

  • Monitor developments in Internet technology and formulating technical solutions to meet functional needs as defined by the Editorial Committee, including the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 (and other web trends) and the use of Open Source solutions.
  • Oversee the delivery of technical solutions by web experts across DGs (coordinated and animated by DIGIT).
  • Keep an inventory of all existing and planned web applications and tools developed by web teams in individual DGs that can be re-used by all webmasters.
  • Update the technical chapters of the IPG. 

Organisation and working

The Technical Committee is presided by DG DIGIT who decides its work programme and working calendar.

Wiki site

You can find more information on its wiki site.

Meetings

The Technical Committee has a schedule of meetings.

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1.4.2. Day-to-day coordination

DGs who are the owners of the respective sites are at the centre of this website development and maintenance process. They are assisted in their tasks of creation and maintenance by a number of other Commission services (DG COMM, DIGIT, OP, DG Translation, etc.)

Principal actors

Organisation Chart

DGs' principal actors

OPOCE" DIGIT DGT DG coordinator COMM

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1.4.2.1. EUROPA team (DG COMM)

The EUROPA team, which is responsible for the overall coordination of EUROPA (together with DIGIT, DGT, SG and OP), can provide you with any help or advice you may need regarding EUROPA.

You can contact the EUROPA team on the page all EUROPA support contact points.

The EUROPA team assists departments in planning, creating and managing sites on EUROPA.

It provides support and advice for online communication, including:

  • creation, design and maintenance of websites, blogs, forums
  • EUTube - a channel on youtube.com for EU video clips
  • management of the Flexible Platform for Internet Services - FPFIS
  • Corporate Web Content Management System tool and service
  • IPG, Information Architecture, Accessibility and Usability Trainings
  • Web consulting and advice
  • statistics on EUROPA development of Internet tools
  • management of access to EUROPA web tools and services
  • guidance on use of .eu domain name and allocation of web addresses
  • EC home page (in 24 languages) - news articles covering EU policy development, events, etc. and local news from EC Representations offices. Complementary sections: promotion of President's and Commissioners' activities, EU prizes and competitions
  • Web network of EC Representations offices
  • Promotion on EUROPA home page

 

For the creation of new sites, this includes the following:

  • discussing the design of the project and its incorporation in the EUROPA structure with the originating department and Internet editors
  • drawing the attention of the originating department to the IPG rules to be complied with
  • granting a web address or URL
  • giving the originating department advice and suggestions on page layout, usability and accessibility, technologies, interactivity, promotion of the site, etc.
  • if necessary, ensuring coordination with other departments with a stake in the project

 

 

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1.4.2.2. DG Coordinator

Each DG appoints a EUROPA coordinator and has one (or more) webmaster(s) responsible for the technical aspects of their web pages.

The role of the EUROPA coordinator is to:

  • coordinate all the websites managed by the DG and ensure consistency across them
  • closely follow developments regarding EUROPA and the rules for publishing on it, and keep the relevant colleagues in their DG informed
  • inform the EUROPA team (DG COMM) as soon as the DG plans any new or updated web pages on EUROPA, to check feasibility, compliance with existing rules and how the pages can be suitably integrated into EUROPA
  • check the quality of the sites produced by the DG before publication
  • act as the sole contact person in their DG for the EUROPA team (DG COMM)
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1.4.2.3. Directorate-General for Translation (DGT)

The Web editing and coordination unit is responsible for multilingual web issues.

Our team of web editors can give you web writing advice & editing, right from the start of the web content creation process, to ensure the original text sent for translation is fit for purpose (short, clear, usable, search engine-optimised, etc.).

Our web planning team coordinates web demand and can also advise you on scheduling & deadlines.

These guidelines on language coverage may help you decide in which language(s) you should publish your content.

How to request web editing or web translation

If you need to send a text for editing  (usually in Word format, since still at drafting stage ), create your request in Poetryrequester code WEB, product REV )

You can send your web page for translation in 2 ways:

Contact DGT Web planning for advice or COMM EUROPA MANAGEMENT to request access to this module.
Once you have submitted a request this way, you can track its progress via the Translation Dashboard .

  • via POETRY – for other WEB content in xml, html, Word, excel or zip format - (select requester code WEB, product TRA)

If you need translation of very short texts (max. 300 characters, incl spaces) within 48 hours, you can use the DGT translation hotline . Contact: dgt-hotline@ec.europa.eu.

Terminology & drafting resources

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1.4.2.4. DIGIT & Account Manager

DIGIT, in partnership with all relevant stakeholders, has the responsibility to:

  • define the IT Strategy of the European Commission
  • provide the EC and whenever appropriate other European Institutions and bodies with high quality and advanced
  • IT infrastructure solutions and e-services
  • support services
  • telecommunications facilities
  • deliver information systems required to support EC corporate business processes within the framework of the e-Commission strategy
  • promote and facilitate, in full collaboration with European public administrations, the deployment of pan- European eGovernement services for citizens and enterprises

Account Manager

The point of contact for infrastructure services provided by Infrastructure Services Provision (DIGIT-C) at the Data Centre is the Account Manager (or Customer Relationship Manager or CRM) of your DG.

The Account Managers per DG are listed in this DIGIT's tableexcel8book.

 

More information: DIGIT Services - Information System Hosting

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1.4.2.5. Publications Office of the European Union (OP)

The Publications Office of the European Union (Publications Office or OP) is the publishing house of the European institutions, and is responsible for publishing and distributing printed and multimedia publications. It produces and distributes the Official Journal of the European Union and the General Report on Activities of the European Union. Other publications (printed and multimedia) are issued with the aim of furthering the development of the Union and its policies, and other publications are intended as information channels for the general public or specific professional circles.

Description

The Office is an interinstitutional body, and functions under the auspices of the European Commission. It is governed by a Management Committee, on which each institution is represented by its Secretary-General.

In order to bring information to the citizen, the Publications Office cooperates with the EU institutions, agencies and bodies to further enhance the transparency of the legislative process and of European policies and to facilitate access to European legislation and information published in the L (Legislation), C (Information and Notices) and S (Public procurement) series of the Official Journal and on the related EUR-Lex and TED websites. The citizen has access to European Publications through the EU Bookshop and contact information for EU Officials can be found via EU Whoiswho, the official directory of the European Union.

Relationship with the DGs

The Publications Office know–how is available to all who require help and advice with publications projects (electronic and paper). The OP works with framework contracts to produce publications together with external contractors (see IPG section on Subcontracting, Accessibility, Usability and Ergonomics). Directorates-General and institutions can submit a request for a publication which will be produced in-house or with the help of an external contractor. OP advises on technical specifications; helps plan, prepare and manage projects and ensure quality of the finished product; ensures conformity with the rules governing use of framework contracts and house style guides.

The Publications Office has a number of such contracts which can be used to carry out multimedia and print publications projects. See IPG section listing OP framework contracts. Also please refer to PubliCare (services offered by the Publications Office) and the Publications Office intranet for further information.

Relationship with DG COMM

The Publications Office maintains a representative at the Europa Forum, and has participated in the revision of the Information Providers Guide, offering expertise and keeping colleagues up to date on work of OP and ways in which OP and other DGs can collaborate.

DG COMM has made use of Publications Office framework contracts for carrying out various publications and IT projects.

Relationship with DIGIT

The Publications Office has permanent contact with DIGIT. DIGIT is hosting most of the website managed by the Publications Office (EUR-Lex, SIMAP, publications.europa.eu …).

Documentation

  • PubliCare (services offered by the Publications Office)

You will find the widest range of services offered by the Publications Office for the production and dissemination of the general publications of the European Union: assignment of identifiers, graphic design, proofreading, production, dissemination, fulfilment and storage.

Functional mailboxes

Title in "Address Book" 

E-mail address

Types of messages handled 

Publications Office products and activities

op-customer-support@publications.europa.eu

General questions on activities and products of the Publications Office

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1.4.3. Profiles / Roles

Depending on whether your site is interinstitutional, a portal, it is thematic, managed by an Editorial Board or by a single person, certain roles are identified in this section according to the functions that need to be performed in order to come up and maintain a informative, user-friendly and valuable website. 

Several functions-roles can be performed by one or more members of your team, depending on the available human resources and the site’s aim.

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1.4.3.1. Webmaster

Each DG appoints a EUROPA coordinator and has one (or more) webmaster(-s) responsible for the technical aspects of site management.

Description

The role of the webmaster is to:

  • Manage the websites run by the DG
  • Create HTML pages, in compliance with the IPG
  • Carry out systematic technical quality control before publishing each new or updated page
  • Provide technical advice within the DG on web issues (in particular compliance with the IPG)

Person who manages a website. Responsible for the HW/SW of the web server. Also publishes web content on the site if content providers do not have access rights.

Activities/Tasks

The tasks of the webmaster are to:

  • Ensure site development (HW, technology, etc.)
  • Administer the site’s web server
  • Ensure the security of the Internet/intranet servers
  • Verify the site’s integrity and consistency (broken links …)
  • Support accessibility and searches (load balancing, indexation …)
  • Improve the site’s audience statistics (search engines)
  • Check site statistics
  • Technical quality control before publishing each new or updated page
  • Advise the DG on web technology matters

Access requests for publishing on EUROPA staging and production server

Skills

Webmasters has to have following skills:

  • Knowledge of HTML, XML/XSL
  • Structure and organisation of the website
  • Operating systems (Windows NT, Unix, Linux)
  • Networks and Internet protocols
  • Plan and manage the back-end infrastructure of a website
  • Security systems (Firewalls, Encryption, access control, back-up systems …)
  • RDBMS, WWW Technology (ODBC/JDBC …)
  • Knowledge of administrative regulations IPG guide

EUROPA coordinators and webmasters

Each DG appoints a EUROPA coordinator and has one (or more) webmasters responsible for the technical aspects of site management.

The role of the EUROPA coordinator is to:

  • Coordinate all the websites managed by the DG and ensure consistency across them.
  • Closely follow developments regarding EUROPA and the rules for publishing on it and keep the relevant colleagues in their DG informed of this.
  • Inform the EUROPA team (DG COMM) as soon as the DG plans any new or updated web pages on EUROPA, to check feasibility, compliance with existing rules and how the pages can be suitably integrated into EUROPA.
  • Check the quality of the sites produced by the DG before publication.
  • Act as the sole contact person in their DG for the EUROPA team (DG COMM).

The role of the webmaster is to:

  • Manage the websites run by the DG
  • Create HTML pages, in compliance with the IPG
  • Carry out systematic technical quality control before publishing each new or updated page
  • Provide technical advice within the DG on web issues (in particular compliance with the IPG)

Each Directorate-General and department shall formally nominate the person(s) responsible for the website of the Directorate-General or department as its representative(s) to the EUROPA Forum.

Please, notify EUROPA Management of any changes to the list.

Meetings and training

EUROPA webmasters have regular meetings.

Training materials are available in the Training section.

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1.4.3.2. Internet Editor

The Internet editor provides and manages editorial content for the websites of line DG's and Representations, in particular for the citizen-oriented pages. He/she works closely with the webmaster.

He/she also assists DG COMM in implementing the Internet strategy throughout EUROPA.

Activities/Tasks

Skills

Internet editor needs:

  • a good knowledge of the possibilities and limitations of the Internet
  • good writing skills for the Internet (or at least editorial experience)
  • strategic understanding and communication background
  • good knowledge of the corporate rules for site construction as laid down in the IPG
  • a well-defined level of "authority" to take decisions on web-related matters.

 

Qualifications/Training

  • Internet basics
  • HTML, PDF conversion tools
  • WYSIWYG HTML editor
  • Documentum Corporate WCM for end users

Meetings and workshops

EUROPA Internet editors have regular meetings and workshops.

 

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1.4.3.3. Content Provider

Most of the Commission’s staff could function as a content provider for a website and, therefore, it is very important for these content producers to have at heir disposal tools that are easy to learn and intuitive.

Activities/Tasks

  • Create/modify simple HTML page content
  • Convert documents to HTML format
  • Convert documents to PDF format

Skills

  • Use of text editors
  • Writing for the Web

Qualifications/Training

  • Internet basics
  • HTML, PDF conversion tools
  • WYSIWYG HTML editor
  • Documentum Corporate WCM for end users
  • Writing for the Web (Syslog Formation)
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1.4.3.4. Works awarded to sub-contractors

The DGs and institutions can benefit from the know-how and experience of the sub-contractors from DIGIT, DG COMM or OP. These sub-contractors are specialised in producing websites and/or electronic or paper publications in accordance with the editorial, graphical and technical rules of the European Commission.

Description

When establishing a contract, make sure to indicate clearly the requirement for conformity with the IPG and with any other guide you want the contractor to respect. This will allow you to request all necessary corrections resulting from any non-conformity, without any possible claim from the contractor for additional payment.

EUROPA Team Quality Control Service

The EUROPA team provides support to the Webmasters in their task of ensuring that the quality of the existing or new site conforms to the defined standards and recommendations. The EUROPA team offers a quality control service to verify the quality of your site. Two types of analysis are carried out for this purpose: in-depth analysis and technical analysis.

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1.4.3.5. Web Manager

The website manager is responsible for the smooth functioning of the website.

  • give the goals of the Web site and a plan for achieving them
  • recruit, assign roles and responsibilities, co-ordinating the Web team members

Skills

  • A strong vision of the website’s goals
  • Knowledge of server technology and information architecture
  • Experience in co-ordinating the web team

Qualifications/Training

  • Managing a website and web team
  • Project management
  • Legal issues
  • Internet basics
  • Documentum Corporate WCM for webmasters
  • Documentum Corporate WCM workflows for webmasters
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1.4.3.6. Web Architect

A key position in the Web organization today is the Web architect, the visionary who bridges the Web content and technical domains, acting as a pivot point between the technical and the non technical members of the Web team.

Description

Should be thoroughly familiar with the organisation and purpose of the service, because he/she designs the structure and content of the Web, in conjunction with the Content Manager.

  • Identify the mission and focus of a website; determine who will be using the site, who is building it, key usability principles, technical constraints, and future needs.
  • Determine anticipated user paths, construct a structure and method of organisation; organise site content into categories and assist in creating an interface to support those categories.
  • Design the organisation, labelling, navigation, and indexing systems to support both browsing and searching to ensure that users can easily find the information they need.
  • Develop the metadata dimension from the business requirements together with the content manager.

Skills

 

Qualifications/Training

  • Website Design/Construction
  • Website management
  • Mark-up and scripting
  • Ergonomics, WAI, standards and guide IPG of the website
  • Documentum Corporate WCM for webmasters
  • Documentum Corporate WCM workflows for webmasters
  • XSL development with Documentum Corporate WCM

Tools

 

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1.4.3.7. Web Developer

Having had technical training, the web developer will have the technical ability to create web applications for the site.

The web developer participates in the construction of those websites that not only consist of static pages rather they contain transactional or personalised functions.

Activities

  • Programming  XSL, scripts, applets, Database applications

Skills

  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Programming (HTML,XML, XSL, Java, JavaScript, Coldfusion, etc.)
  • Testing
  • Database Design, SQL- databases, retrieving and manipulating data

Qualifications/Training

  • HTML, XML/XSL and scripting
  • Analysis, design, programming and testing Java, JavaScript,  Coldfusion, etc.
  • Database design, SQL- databases, retrieving and manipulating data within a website
  • Documentum Corporate WCM for webmasters  
  • Documentum Corporate WCM workflows for webmasters
  • XSL development with Documentum Corporate WCM
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1.4.3.8. Web Designer

He / she will have had an artistic training, and will be responsible for all visual aspect of the site. The Web designer may also work with multimedia applications (video, audio, animation, etc).

The aim is to make the web site more alive, intuitive and enjoyable.

Activities/Tasks

  • Define the graphical layout of the Site and its “image”
  • Create/modify images, icons, logos and navigation buttons
  • Design the user interface
  • Create the page design, CSS design (templates) to define the presentation style of the site’s page
  • Create/modify multimedia for the site

Skills

  • Creativity
  • Graphical ability
  • Knowledge of ergonomics, WAI, standards and IPG guide of the website.

Qualifications/Training

  • Ergonomics, WAI, standards and IPG guide of the Web site
  • HTML and CSS
  • Web graphics
  • Multimedia
  • Documentum Corporate WCM for webmasters
  • XSL development with Documentum Corporate WCM
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1.4.3.9. Proofreader

Read transcript or proof type-setup to detect and mark for correction any grammatical, typographical, or syntax errors.

Skills

  • Should master the languages used in the workplace
  • Knowledge of text editors

Qualifications/Training

  • Basic Internet skills
  • HTML, PDF conversion tools
  • WYSIWYG HTML editor
  • Documentum Corporate WCM for end users
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1.4.3.10. Web Translator

The web translator tasks are:

  • Upstream linguistic advice (before drafting starts)
  • Editing and linguistic revision at all stages prior to finalisation of the original text
  • Initial feedback on the usability of the final web pages
  • Translation/localisation of finalised content
  • Ongoing maintenance support (updating)

Skills

Required skills are:

  • Native speaker editing and linguistic advice on web writing
  • Web translation

Qualifications/Training

  • Translation experience
  • Editing experience
  • Web writing/internet communication
  • Experience with the following tools:
    • WORD
    • TagEditor
    • Translators’ Workbench (TWB)
    • Euramis
    • Excel

 

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1.4.3.11. Website user

This is the person who views the content of the website. In the case of an Intranet, it would be limited to those people belonging to the organisation that owns the Intranet.

Description

As regards Internet, all people with access to Internet could read the content of those EC websites on the Internet, therefore we can group our Internet website users into two categories:

  • EC web users
  • External EC web users

Activities/Tasks

  • Browsing the Web

Skills

  • Basics Internet skills
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1.5. Communication Policy & Strategy

The 2004-2009 European Commission is the first European Commission to officially make Communication a strategic objective. This was “sealed” with the adoption on 20 July 2005 of an action plan by the Commission to improve "communicating Europe". But the shaping of the European Commission’s Communication policy and strategy starts earlier with the documents, listed below (last at the top).

February 2012: Rationalisation of the European Commission's public websites

Websites are a key tool to inform citizens and stakeholders about EU policies, legislation, their rights in the internal market, grants, employment opportunities and many other things that affect their daily lives.  Furthermore, the web is a very cost-effective, accessible and efficient means of communication, which is particularly relevant in the current political and financial context where we must account for every euro of taxpayer´s money we spend.

European Commission (EC) is rationalising its presence on the web. The EC EUROPA webrationalising programme aims to improve the quality of our online information and services.

Read more about websites' rationalisationpdf(136 kB) and its detailed roadmappdf(13 kB).

Read the high-level note about websites' rationalisationpdf(39 kB) addressed in March 2013 to all DGs.

 

November 2011: A common visual identity for the Commission

Following the decision to adopt a common visual identity to strengthen the corporate image of the European Commission, communicated in the note to the Directors-Generalpdf (23/11/2011), and announced in the note on the Implementation of the Commission's Visual Identity on the webpdf (12/12/2011), the Commission standard template has been updated to implement this new corporate visual identity on the web.

Depending on the context, DGs may choose to apply the new visual identity within their current environment, or to implement the new template 2012.

The graphical specifications and tools to create the new banner can be found on the standard template page.

Guidelines for implementing the new visual identity using previous versions of the template are available at CWCMS portal.

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December 2007: Communicating about Europe via the Internet - Engaging the citizens

Communicating about Europe via the Internet - Engaging the citizenspdf(338 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  (SEC(2007) 1742). The Commission launches a new Internet strategy embracing the Internet culture and aiming at making full use of the recent online developments in communication. According to this document, the Commission faces a twofold challenge: it needs to overhaul the EUROPA site and stimulate interest in EU affairs on other websites in order to broaden the debate on the European Union. This strategy is a follow-up to the Commission’s recent Communication “Communicating Europe in Partnership”. It is one of many ways of ensuring that the citizen’s right to be informed on EU issues remains a reality and a priority.

3 October 2007: Communicating Europe in Partnership

Communicating Europe in Partnership (COM(2007) 568 final) have the aim of informing the public more fully on the European Union (EU) and of giving citizens a more prominent voice. EU nationals are entitled to know about proposals made by EU officials, their governments being part of that Union, and also to influence their content. Since this Communication on European affairs was the result of a joint effort, a number of partnerships will be forged between the other institutions and the Member States.

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November 2006: "e-Commission 2006-2010"

The Commission adopts a strategic frameworkpdf, aiming to become a first class e-administration and improve its efficiency and transparency through the best use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

1 February 2006: White Paper on a European communication policy

The Commission publishes its proposal on communicating better with the public [214 KB], inviting comments from all sections of society.

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13 October 2005: Plan-D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate

After the European constitution is rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands, EU leaders call for a period of reflection. The Commission proposes its plan to stimulate more democracy, dialogue and debate in the EUpdf.

20 July 2005: Action plan to improve communicating Europe by the Commission

The Commission adopted on 20 July 2005 an action planpdf Choose translations of the previous link  [253 KB] to improve communicating Europe by the Commission. The extract below specifically concerns the Internet:

The EU website, "EUROPA", is the largest public website in the world and a rich source of information and has a key role to play in the Commission’s communication efforts. There is, however, a need to shift the emphasis more towards communication, to facilitate navigation, to strive to ensure that EUROPA pages are fully multilingual at the appropriate level and to operate with state of the art technology, including a powerful search engine.

DG Communication [the new name of DG PRESS] will therefore establish an Editor for EUROPA, with the objective of ensuring a well-structured website and avoiding overlaps of texts.

DG Communication will concentrate its intensified editorial efforts on a news site focusing on EU Communication priorities and current ‘hot’ topics, and on a number of general sites for young people and other key target audiences. Information for the general public will be fed locally by the Representations in their language(s) and tailored to local needs and realities.

Thematic pages addressing a more specialist audience will be managed by the DGs responsible for any given topic, under the authority of the editor and with editorial help if necessary from DG Communication.

Thematic portals should move beyond the Commission's DGs and services so that anyone interested can, with just one click, get an overview of a subject from all the institutions.

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25 July 2001: White Paper on European Governance

On 25 July 2001, the Commission adopted a White Paper on European Governancepdf.

The paragraphs quoted below relate specifically to the development of EUROPA in the short term:

"Democracy depends on people being able to take part in public debate. To do this, they must have access to reliable information on European issues and be able to scrutinise the policy process in its various stages. Major progress has been made in 2001 with the adoption of new rules giving citizens greater access to Community documents. However, the Institutions and Member States also need to communicate more actively with the general public on European issues. The communication policy of the Commission and the other Institutions will promote efforts to deliver information at national and local level, where possible making use of networks, grassroots organisations and national, regional and local authorities. Information should be presented in a way adapted to local needs and concerns, and be available in all official languages if the Union is not to exclude a vast proportion of its population – a challenge which will become more acute in the context of enlargement.

Information and communication technologies have an important role. Accordingly, the EU’s EUROPA Website is set to evolve into an inter-active platform for information, feedback and debate, linking parallel networks across the Union.

Providing more information and more effective communication are a pre-condition for generating a sense of belonging to Europe. The aim should be to create a trans-national "space" where citizens from different countries can discuss what they perceive as being the important challenges for the Union. This should help policy makers to stay in touch with European public opinion, and could guide them in identifying European projects which mobilise public support."

6 July 2001: EUROPA 2nd Generation

On 6 July 2001, the European Commission published a paper setting out new goals for the development of EUROPApdf Choose translations of the previous link  [95 KB].

This paper specifies the interdepartmental responsibilities of particular Commission departments (particularly DG Press, the Directorate-General for Informatics and the Publications Office of the European Union). It also sets out the intradepartmental responsibilities of all Commission departments in terms of supplying material for EUROPA.

 

8 June 2001: e-Commission

On 8 June 2001, the Commission adopted a paper entitled " Towards the e-Commission: Implementation Strategy 2001-2005 (Actions 7, 8 and 9 of the Reform White Paper)pdf Choose translations of the previous link ".

This paper forms part of the European Union’s "e-Europe" initiative. It defines the three main strands of the "e-Commission" as follows:

  • modernisation of the internal administration: better value for money
  • more efficient communication with external partners
  • better public service to citizens and business

The development of EUROPA is part of the third strand.

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1.6. Legal requirements

Content published on Europa – whether online versions of official documents or content adapted to the Web – must meet certain legal requirements.

Things to do

  • Use the obligatory europa.eu or ec.europa.eu templates . These contain the general legal notice. After identifying what types of content will appear on the website, choose any specific legal notices/disclaimers that need to be inserted.
  • Think about who will manage requests from third parties to reproduce content/pages from your site. If there is no one available in your local team or DG, provide a mechanism to forward all such requests to COMM-COPYRIGHT@ec.europa.eu.
  • If you want to publish content that your Unit/DG has not produced itself, check its copyright status first. If the content was produced outside the European institutions, check that it is free of copyright before using it, otherwise acquire copyright clearance.
  • If linking to external sites, include a specific disclaimer for content not provided directly by EUROPA.

Reference documents

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1.6.1. Legal notices and copyright

Mandatory requirement

Appropriate disclaimers and notices must be inserted in precise terms and wherever relevant.  

 

View all IPG Rules

In general terms, all works such as publications or documents issued by the European Union institutions and bodies, irrespective of the medium, are subject to copyright, whether or not this is explicitly stated, except for works excluded from copyright protection by the relevant applicable law because they do not meet the legal requirements for protection or even if they do, they are subject to legal exceptions. The Internet increasing the potential audience of works displayed online and disseminated through the European Union’s official website ‘Europa’, it is essential to ensure the protection of the European Union's intellectual property rights.

In the same way, the rights of third-party literary or artistic works incorporated in EU websites and electronic documents shall be protected.

Therefore, appropriate disclaimers and notices must be inserted in precise terms and wherever relevant.

Copyright / Ownership

For literary (articles/studies/reports/etc. or excerpts thereof) or artistic (photos/graphs/drawings/etc.) works prepared by EU statutory personnel within the context of their work for the EU institutions or bodies, the copyright vests with the European Union, in accordance with Article 18 of the Staff Regulations of officials of the European Communitiespdf(2 MB) Choose translations of the previous link :

  1. All rights in any writings or other work done by any official in the performance of his duties shall be the property of the Community to whose activities such writings or works relate. The Communities shall have the right to acquire compulsorily the copyright in such works.
  2. Any invention made by an official in the course of or in connection with the performance of his duties shall be the undisputed property of the Communities. The institution may, at its own expense and on behalf of the Communities, apply for and obtain patents therefore in all countries. Any invention relating to the work of the Communities made by an official during the year following the expiration of his term of duty shall, unless proved otherwise, be deemed to have been made in the course of or in connection with the performance of his duties. Where inventions are the subject of patents, the name of the inventor or inventors shall be stated. 
  3. The institution may in appropriate cases award a bonus, the amount of which shall be determined by the institution, to an official who is the author of a patented invention.

For contributions/articles/studies/reports/etc. prepared by external companies/contractors on commission for EU institutions or bodies, and subject to standard EU service/study contracts, the general terms and conditions stipulate that any results or rights, including copyright and other intellectual or industrial property rights obtained in performance of the contract, shall be owned exclusively by the European Union, except where copyright or any other right of ownership already exists prior to the entering into force of the contract. In this latter case,  the company/contractor shall specify the works subject to these pre-existing rights, which are included in the contribution/article/study/report/etc, and shall warrant that it is the owner of these rights or, as the case may be, that it has obtained permission from the copyright holder(s) or from its or their legal representatives to use the works. Furthermore, it shall communicate any terms and conditions linked to the rights it has been granted.

The use by an EU institution or body of contributions/articles/studies/reports/etc. submitted by third-party experts or groups of experts is subject to a ‘publication/translation rights agreement’.

The Commission has a reuse policy regarding its works that is implemented by Commission Decision of 12 December 2011 on the reuse of Commission documentspdf. According to Article 2(1), this Decision only applies to public documents produced by the Commission or by public and private entities on its behalf:

  • which have been published by the Commission or by the Publications Office on its behalf through publications, websites or dissemination tools; or
  • which have not been published for economic or other practical reasons, such as studies, reports and other data.

This means that this reuse policy does not apply to works created by other EU Institutions or bodies. This difference is reflected in the general copyright notice of EUROPA and in the specific copyright notice of the Commission which are different.

Whenever third-party literary (articles/studies/reports/etc. or excerpts thereof) or artistic (photos/graphs/drawings/etc.) work is included within an EU website or electronic document, whatever the medium, the institution or body shall be responsible for obtaining the author’s or, as the case may be, right-holder's permission in writing and shall pay any fees required for the rights granted and ensure that appropriate acknowledgement is given in the publication.

The so called 'royalty free' images or photos found on the Internet or purchased on CD-ROM are not public domain! They are copyright protected. Therefore it is essential to respect all terms of use specified.

For this purpose, an agreement setting out basic formal conditions shall be concluded between the DG or other originating department and the author/copyright holder of this material. Whereas the ownership remains with the author/copyright holder, a ‘Publication/translation rights agreement’ not only authorises the EU to use/publish/translate the material, but also authorises the EU to permit further use/reproduction/translation thereof. It also states, if relevant, that the author/copyright holder has obtained unfettered rights for the reuse in his work of materials on which copyright or any other right of ownership already exists. A duly signed original of such agreements shall be kept within the relevant files. For further information, please contact op-info-copyright@publications.europa.eu.

Moreover, when using third-party material, whether textual or artistic, appropriate acknowledgement must be given to the author/copyright holder thereof (for photos, for example, a concise caption can be inserted). An additional courtesy acknowledgement may be mentioned as follows: ‘Reproduced with kind permission of the author(s)’.

Should, however, an author/copyright holder or his/her legal representative object to any use of his/her textual or artistic works other than dissemination by the EU institutions or bodies within their publication, the originating department shall respect this condition by displaying a relevant notice.

The latter may be printed directly under the third-party copyright acknowledgement as follows: ‘Reproduction is not authorised’, or inserted at a suitably prominent place at the beginning of a publication, as shown below.

  • Reproduction of the texts of this [report/study/article/etc.] is authorised provided the source is acknowledged. Reproduction of the artistic material contained therein is prohibited.
  • [Title of the material] (texts, drawings, photos, audio, video, etc.)
    © [name of copyright holder], [year of publication/creation]

For reproduction or use of this work, permission must be sought directly from the copyright holder.

In any case, the originating department is responsible for ensuring that no discrepancy may occur between the rights granted by the copyright holder and the copyright notice covering its publication.

For textual works, it is advisable to add to the copyright notice and qualification a disclaimer regarding responsibility, the form and wording of which is at the originating department’s discretion and adapted to the specific case, as shown in the following examples (for the EU).

  • Responsibility for the information and views set out in this [report/study/article/publication/etc.] lies entirely with the author(s).
  • The content of this [report/study/article/publication/etc.] does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Responsibility for the information and views expressed in the [...]/[therein] lies entirely with the author(s).
  • The information and views set out in this [report/study/article/publication/etc.] are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Links to external non-EU websites

Any EU institution or body wishing to create a link to a third-party website shall make prior enquiries about the terms and conditions set out on the website concerned, and it shall keep thereto. Furthermore, notifying the webmaster of a third-party website of the creation of a link from the EU ‘EUROPA’ website is considered a matter of ‘netiquette’ and legal caution.

Read more about links to external site.

Copyright issues of websites

For more in-depth information on copyright and other intellectual property rights, related to web sites, please consult the Intranet Copyright website.

For any additional information about Copyright and other Intellectual Property Rights please contact the helpdesk on Copyright in DG COMM at the address COMM-COPYRIGHT@ec.europa.eu.

Copyright issues of publications

For further questions regarding copyright issues related to publications, please contact the Publications Office at the address op-info-copyright@publications.europa.eu.

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1.6.1.1. Copyright notice

Mandatory requirement

It is a legal requirement to display the Copyright notice at the top of every page.  

 

View all IPG Rules

A general copyright notice is included in the "Legal notice" service which defines the limits of responsibility and draws attention to the copyright restrictions of EUROPA. It is a legal requirement to display it at the top of every page.

Copyright notice for European Commission websites

 

© European Union, 1995-2013

Reuse is authorised, provided the source is acknowledged. The reuse policy of the European Commission is implemented by a Decision of 12 December 2011pdf.

The general principle of reuse can be subject to conditions which may be specified in individual copyright notices. Therefore users are advised to refer to the copyright notices of the individual websites maintained under Europa and of the individual documents. Reuse is not applicable to documents subject to intellectual property rights of third parties.

 

Copyright notice for EUROPA Inter-institutional websites

 

© European Union, 1995-2013

Reproduction is authorised, provided the source is acknowledged, save where otherwise stated.

Where prior permission must be obtained for the reproduction or use of textual and multimedia information (sound, images, software, etc.), such permission shall cancel the above-mentioned general permission and shall clearly indicate any restrictions on use.

 

 

 

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1.6.1.2. Notices/Disclaimers

Disclaimer on Publications

To be included by the author in publications:

  • © European Union, [year]

    Responsibility for the information and views set out in this [report/study/article/publication…] lies entirely with the authors).

    Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.
  • © European Union, [year]

    The content of this [report/study/article/publication…] does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Responsibility for the information and views expressed in the [...] / [therein] lies entirely with the author(s).

    Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.
  • © European Union, [year]

    The information and views set out in this [report/study/article/publication…] are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

    Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

Before displaying the wording ‘Reproduction is authorised …’, either of the following conditions must be set:

  • No third-party textual or artistic material is included in the publication without the copyright holder’s prior consent to further dissemination by other third parties.
  • An additional clearly positioned notice specifies that the reproduction of the third-party textual or artistic material included is prohibited.

Disclaimer on Google tools

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1.6.2. Cookies

A cookie is a small piece of data that a website asks your browser to store on your computer or mobile device. The cookie allows the website to "remember" your actions or preferences over time.

Most browsers support cookies, but users can set their browsers to decline them and can delete them whenever they like.

Description

Websites mainly use cookies to:

  • identify users
  • remember users' custom preferences
  • help users complete tasks without having to re‑enter information when browsing from one page to another or when visiting the site later.

Cookies can also be used for online behavioural target advertising and to show adverts relevant to something that the user searched for in the past.

How are they used?

The web server supplying the webpage can store a cookie on the user's computer or mobile device. An external web server that manages files included or referenced in the webpage is also able to store cookies. All these cookies are called http header cookies. Another way of storing cookies is through JavaScript code contained or referenced in that page.

Each time the user requests a new page, the web server can receive the values of the cookies it previously set and return the page with content relating to these values. Similarly, JavaScript code is able to read a cookie belonging to its domain and perform an action accordingly.

What are the different types of cookies?

A cookie can be classified by its lifespan and the domain to which it belongs. By lifespan, a cookie is either a:

  • session cookie which is erased when the user closes the browser or
  • persistent cookie which remains on the user's computer/device for a pre-defined period of time.

As for the domain to which it belongs, there are either:

  • first-party cookies which are set by the web server of the visited page and share the same domain
  • third-party cookies stored by a different domain to the visited page's domain. This can happen when the webpage references a file, such as JavaScript, located outside its domain.

EU legislation on cookies

EUROPA websites must follow the Commission's guidelines on privacy and data protection and inform users that cookies are not being used to gather information unnecessarily.

The ePrivacy directive – more specifically Article 5(3) – requires prior informed consent for storage ofor access to information stored on a user's terminal equipment. In other words, you must ask users if they agreeto most cookies and similar technologies (e.g. web beacons, Flash cookies, etc.) before the site starts to use them.

For consent to be valid, it must be informed, specific, freely givenand must constitute a real indication of the individual's wishes.

However, some cookies are exempt from this requirement. Consent is not required if the cookie is:

  • used for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication, and
  • strictly necessary in order for the provider of an information society service explicitly required by the user to provide that service.

Cookies clearly exempt from consent according to the  EU advisory body on data protection- WP29 pdf Choose translations of the previous link  include:

  • user‑input cookies (session-id) such as first‑party cookies to keep track of the user's input when filling online forms, shopping carts, etc., for the duration of a session or persistent cookies limited to a few hours in some cases
  • authentication cookies, to identify the user once he has logged in, for the duration of a session
  • user‑centric security cookies, used to detect authentication abuses, for a limited persistent duration
  • multimedia content player cookies, used to store technical data to play back video or audio content, for the duration of a session
  • load‑balancing cookies, for the duration of session
  • user‑interface customisation cookies such as language or font preferences, for the duration of a session (or slightly longer)
  • third‑party social plug‑in content‑sharing cookies, for logged‑in members of a social network.

Use on EUROPA

The use of cookies on EUROPA is allowed under certain conditions. You should take the following steps.

  1. Ask yourself whether the use of cookies is essential for a given functionality, and if there is no other, non‑intrusive alternative.
  2. If you think a cookie is essential, ask yourself how intrusive it is: what data does each cookie hold? Is it linked to other information held about the user? Is its lifespan appropriate to its purpose? What type of cookie is it? Is it a first or a third‑party setting the cookie? Who controls the data?
  3. Evaluate for each cookie if informed consent is required or not:
    • first‑party session cookies DO NOT require informed consent.
    • first‑party persistent cookies DO require informed consent. Use only when strictly necessary. The expiry period must not exceed one year.
    • all third‑party session and persistent cookies require informed consent. These cookies should not be used on EUROPA sites, as the data collected may be transferred beyond the EU's legal jurisdiction.
  4. Before storing cookies, gain consent from the users (if required) by implementing the Cookie Consent Kit in all the pages of any website using cookies that require informed consent.
  5. Inform usersabout the use of cookies in plain, jargon‑free language in a dedicated "cookie notice" page linked from the service toolbar of the standard templates. This page should explain:
    • why cookies are being used, (to remember users' actions, identify users, collect traffic information, etc.)
    • if the cookies are essential for the website or a given functionality to work or if they aim to enhance the performance of the website
    • the types of cookies used (e.g. session or permanent, first or third‑party)
    • who controls/accesses the cookie‑related information (website or third‑party)
    • that the cookie will not be used for any purpose other than the one stated
    • how users can withdraw consent.

A standard template to create your own cookie notice pagezip(236 kB) is available. If a site does not use any cookies, the dedicated "cookie notice" page should use the template and just mention this. If your site uses the same cookies as the Commission homepage, you can link to the top level cookie notice. 

Cookie Consent Kit

The cookie consent solution is a JavaScript‑based kit that, after some site‑specific configuration, will automatically add a header banner to the page. This header banner will disappear once the user has accepted or refused the cookies used on the site.

This solution provides the following functionalities:

  • JavaScript to automatically display the header banner in 24 languages
  • a wizard to declare your cookies and the link to your cookies notice page
  • a JavaScript API with methods and functions that help to prevent prior storage of cookies
  • a corporate‑consent cookie to remember the choice of the user across websites
  • a template for the cookie notice page.

This is a central service: you have to include the JavaScript file on your website and add a one‑site‑specific configuration file listing the cookies you are using. You will also have to add a short HTML parameter to every element in your site that sets a cookie.

Read the full documentation to implement the Cookie Consent Kit

Download the template to create your own cookie notice pagezip(236 kB).

Example

  1. The cookie header banner displayed on all pages of a site using cookies that require informed consent.
  2. A link to the specific cookie notice page is also available.
  3. This element of the page will only display its content once the user chooses to accept the site's cookies.

 Cookie consent example

Guidelines and References

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1.6.3. Data protection

As any other European Institution, the European Commission is subject to specific legal obligations concerning the protection of personal data and their processing. These obligations are described in Regulation (EC) No 45/2001pdf [120 KB] of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data.

For all the Institutions, the European Data Protection Supervisor acts as an independent supervisory authority (see art. 41 to 45 of the Regulation).

Each institution or body appoints at least one person as Data Protection Officer.

For more details please consult:

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1.6.5. Use of third-party tools and services

Mandatory requirement

Third party services are not allowed on EUROPA. Webmasters must use in-house solutions and not third party tools.

 

View all IPG Rules

Third-party tools and services carry considerable continuity, accuracy and privacy risks and their use on EUROPA websites is therefore not allowed. Webmasters must use in-house solutions.

Description

Many companies offer "free" tools, services, plug-ins or widgets that provide extra features and functionalities on websites. Use of these tools generally requires registration on the site and acceptance of the companies' terms of use. Examples include Google analytics or Statscounter to analyse site traffic; Bing maps for geographical information; AddThis to share or bookmark; YouTube for videos; Facebook social plug-ins an extension of Facebook in other site; Twitter plug-ins, etc.

These tools can be used or embedded on any website via JavaScript or API, while the tool remains hosted on the servers of the company. The website including the third-party tool will contact and connect to the company's servers anytime a page is viewed by a user. 

Using these tools embedded on EUROPA sites is not without risk. Several European countries and the US have removed third-party tools from their sites for fear of breaching their user privacy obligations following complaints by web users. For example, the German Data Protection Institution has declared it does not authorize the use of Google Analytics on public websites.

Use on EUROPA websites

  • Third party services are not allowed on EUROPA. Webmasters must use in-house solutions and not third party tools. The Commission has set up a range of in-house solutions which provide the same or often better service than some of these "free" tools. These services are tested to comply with security and legal requirements of the institutions. They also come with the full support and back-up of the EUROPA Team and DIGIT. 
  • Insert a link to your social media pages instead of embedding the plug-ins on your site. 
  • All videos posted on EUTube are available on the Audiovisual service. Embed or link to them instead.
  • Use of social media in EU communication 

In case a EUROPA website wishes to use third party services, it should concern a justified business need, which cannot be fulfilled by in-house solutions. In that case, a risk assessment should be made, considering the requirements of Regulation (EC) 45/2001,  Decision C(2006)3602 and Directive 2009/136/EC. This risk assessment should cover at least the 7 risk areas mentioned below and should include a consultation of the DPO and HR.DS.

If the aforementioned actions have lead to a positive outcome, the owner of the EUROPA website must comply with the ePrivacy Directive, implement the cookie consent kit and clearly inform the users via a specific disclaimer that a third party is collecting data on them and that they are no longer covered by the standard EUROPA privacy statement on data protection.

Risks

The risks of using third party tools are based on the following critical issues:

Privacy and data protection

The European Union is committed to user privacy in conformity with Regulation 45/2001. As far as the Commission is concerned, its Personal Data Protection legal notice based on Regulation (EC) 45/2001pdf Choose translations of the previous link  guarantees that on EUROPA sites the users are always informed when their private data is collected and how this data is handled.

Moreover, the ePrivacy directive (Directive 2009/136/EC) and specifically Article 5(3) requires prior user informed consent for storage or access to information stored on a user's device.

EUROPA sites permit the use of first party session cookies and in cases when first party permanent cookies are used the Internet user is duly notified. On the contrary, third-party products often use permanent cookies, log files, web beacons and other tracking tools to monitor and analyse user behaviour.

In that case, the data will be transferred outside the EU, which is subject to a series of conditions and restrictions: the Commission is generally not in a position to check that such conditions are met by the third party service provider.

Business continuity is not guaranteed

The third-party tools are not maintained by the EUROPA team and the European Commission does not have any influence over them. That means there is a risk that the product could be discontinued at any time without prior notice. In case of malfunction or error in the service,

Legal uncertainty

The terms of use of third-party tools may be changed without notice. A service that was once free may suddenly bring about legal or financial obligations for the institutions. The company that developed the tool may be sold to a competitor that could have different intentions for the use of the collected data. The privacy policy of the service provider may vary.

It should be also noted that by accepting the terms of use of the third-party service, EUROPA webmasters participate in a legal act in the name of the institution for which he or she may not have any authorisation.

Dependency on third party

External tools are essentially black boxes. Webmasters do not have control over them and the development team of DIGIT is unable to assist with any development or troubleshooting.

Limited accuracy assurance, dubious data comparability

Providers could change or adjust the collected data without notice. Moreover, various companies offering third party tools use differing data collection methods. Therefore, websites cannot be compared to each other. Their results can vary depending on the tool used thus being useless for reporting. On the contrary, EUROPA analytics uses the same collection method for all sites and allows comparability between them.

Internet security risks

In the past, the settings of a third-party service integrated on a Commission website were changed to redirect users to a pornographic website. On another occasion, users were asked to install virus infested software under heading of the European Union. Recently, Twitter was spreading a worm without the account owner's knowledge. This is an obvious public relation risk. 

Endorsement

The use of a third-party service on EUROPA sites serves as implicit endorsement or approval by the European institutions. This would constitute a breach of competition rules as no tender has been launched nor there exists any contractual relationship. This can also result in the Commission being held liable for any harm suffered by the Internet user.

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1.7. EC EUROPA Digital transformation

Transforming our digital presence

Digital communications have exploded in the past decade. People are becoming more connected and more demanding online and our organisation should make the most of these developments. To keep pace with these changes, a major cross-Commission programme of digital transformation is underway to help us rationalise, redefine and redesign how we communicate online.

The aim of the programme (formerly known as EC EUROPA web rationalisation programme), run by DGs Communication, DG Translation and DIGIT, is to:

  • help people find the information they are looking for quickly and easily,
  • make the European Commission's online communication more coherent,
  • make it easier for people to understand what the European Commission does,
  • save money with better online communications by reducing the number of (more costly) emails/phone calls. 

Read high-level web rationalisation notes of March 2012 and 2013 on page on Communication Policy and Strategy.

The mandate

The project team is supported by a director-level working group set up by Catherine Day and chaired by the Director-General of DG COMM. At their first meeting the directors adopted a series of principles of online communication, the first of which is to focus on user needs when we communicate online.

 

Digital transformation programme vision   

"We believe that digital communication channels can bring the EU closer to people and enable the Commission to play its role more effectively. A strong digital presence will help us be more relevant, coherent and transparent while giving the institution a more human face. We believe that our decentralised organisation can best achieve this with a central, cross-DG multi-disciplinary team that:

  • aligns organisational goals with user needs and tasks
  • sees digital as a crucial part of overall communication strategies
  • takes decisions based on facts not opinions
  • sees technology as an enabler
  • favours collaboration and co-creation with all stakeholders
  • works in a strategic partnership with the DGs
  • focuses on cost-efficiency and economies of scale
  • strives for permanent improvement of skills and the way we do our work"

Organisation-wide programme

Digital transformation is an ambitious programme that must involve all Directorates-General. It is a challenge that will call on us all to reach out from our silos and work together across units and DGs. In particular, all communication units, webmasters and internet editors have a vital role to play in.

 Where to start

  • Update the inventory of the sites run by your DG. This will give you a good overview of the content on your site.  Don't forget to include sites hosted outside the European Commission domain (ec.europa.eu) – you might need to get this information from your DG's policy units.
  • Cut the 'dead branches': look at sites or content which have not been updated recently. There might be some sites you can close down straight away (like the site for an event or campaign that took place 3 years ago).
  • Clean up your website(s): delete/archive old pages, integrate sites which have been developed outside of the europa.eu domain and improve the quality of your DG's online publishing.
  • Investigate who your users are: start with gathering analytics and search data. Then extend your information gathering with contacts from marketing events, forums, press events etc. Focus on all the points where you are in contact with your audience, and get to know them better.
  • Improve your content by making it more user-centric and searchable.
  • Make the people in your DG aware of this programme (the central team in DG COMM can also come and present the programme to your DG).

 Don't hesitate to contact us at: EC-DIGITAL-TRANSFORMATION@ec.europa.eu

 

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1.7.4. Principles of online communication

The European Commission has decided to rationalise and modernise its overall web presence. Getting there from where we are now means radically changing how we think about online communication and how we work together. The principles offered below are designed to help us do that.

(The principles were adopted by the web rationalisation working group on 3 July 2013.)

1. Users first

We start by understanding who our users are and which of their needs we can serve.

We base decisions about content and design on evidence and data about actual users and their most common interaction with our content – not on our assumptions. This means frequent and regular user surveys and testing.

 

2. Joined-up digital services

Clear content helps people ’self serve’, thereby reducing user inquiries through more costly channels (helplines, emails etc.).

 

3. Content over technology

What’s important is the substance of our content. Our content must be:

  • relevant, accurate and usable. Users are looking for topic- or task-related information that helps them answer their questions.
  • clearly worded – using our users’ words, so they can both understand it and find it through a search engine. This is also important for our image – as a professional, efficient organisation that is engaging with real public concerns.

 

4. Less is more (and cheaper)

Rationalising and consolidating our digital content helps us focus on key content with real value to our users. A smaller volume is easier to manage – and deliver in multiple languages (where necessary).

 

5. Be consistent

Our users cannot be expected to make any distinction between our Directorate-Generals (DG)s and agencies. To most of them, we are ‘the EU’. As things now stand, a journey to the information a user needs can take them across several sites, each with different look and feel. Adhering to good-quality common components, templates and forms makes life easier for users – and cheaper and easier for us in the long run.

 

6. Joined-up digital services

Our content must get to the user in the right form – European Commission website, social media, etc. – and adapted for PC, smartphone, etc. – in the most resource-efficient way. It must fit all formats (without rewriting). This will save resources and avoid confusing users.

 

7. Be open

Genuine transparency means providing easy access to useful information that users can reuse and develop into new services and products for public use. Easier access to our information will help our stakeholders (whoever they may be) to engage with us, at the same time keeping the organisation open, relevant and in touch.

 

8. Manage content

Our content must be kept constantly updated in response to user feedback, and deleted or archived at the end of its useful life. We must look closely at how we plan, deliver and manage content.

 

9. Keep learning

Invest in acquiring (and helping colleagues to acquire) the right skills, training and coaching to make the most of digital communication. We should look at how digital can help us work better internally, helping us work better across teams and DGs.

 

10. Collaborate & co-create

All the above means avoiding duplication of effort and making optimal use of scarce resources by:

  • proactively working with other DGs that have related or overlapping content and work together for a better user-experience
  • looking beyond our organisation to improve our performance (how do others do it?)
  • actively participating (asking for and offering help, expertise, input) in the growing community of digital/web practitioners working on EU websites, including partners in the other EU institutions.

 

 

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2. Plan

The purpose of this phase is to prepare for an upcoming project, including the establishment of the definition and initial planning for new project. The project definition includes definition of the scope and outlines of the requirements for a project; these may include the timetable, as well as the limits with regard to budget and resources. This phase may be preceded by the “Go-ahead decision" phase, where applicable.

Description

This section describes the activities involved in gathering all the relevant detailed inputs and information needed during the conception, structure and development phases of the website, as well as inputs for making the key decisions during those phases.
The main steps/activities during this phase include:

  • defining what type of website
  • documenting the purpose/objectives of the site
  • the mission and target audience (including their expectations, etc.)
  • preliminary definition of resources for project execution
  • identification of constraints such as special standards
  • establishing work plan and calendar
  • defining and describing in detail the subject of the website, etc.

Activities

  • Appoint the site coordinator (DG concerned).
  • Recruit the personnel.
  • Fix responsibilities for all tasks involved.
  • Inform DG COMM of new site creation project.
  • Establish calendar and work plan.
  • Define and describe in detail the subject of the website.
  • For dynamic applications introduce the detailed hosting request (THM form: Transfer-Hosting-Modification) via MIRELLA) Restricted area: This link points to internal pages and may not work if you are browsing as an external user. – IRM responsible + corresponding DIGIT-DC Account manager (DIGIT ISHS account management).
  • Appoint DIGIT-DC Technical Project Leader (coordinates the implementation of every request change).
  • Prepare a capacity plan (DIGIT-DC).
  • Analyse the request and its impact on DC infrastructure >>> CAB approval for starting change implementation.
  • Set-up site environment for static site (site URL allocation, access to the Staging Manager, CIRCA environment if needed, etc.) & dynamic sites (site URL allocation, access to the development and test environments, etc.)
  • Submit requests (security convention) for relevant accesses (possible also for contractors).
  • Define the core e-services to be integrated within the site (Core e-services catalogue: Mailform, Mailmas, generic mailbox for contact, Forum, etc.)
  • Plan and contact the DGT (upstream linguistic advice and editing needs, translation volume, deadlines, budget, etc.)
  • Define promotion and communication strategy (define who will be informed about the new site, when and how).
    N.B. Site forms part of a larger communication strategy
  • Define the tracking and evaluation elements (send the request to set-up and generate the statistics report).
  • Launch the copyrights procedures.
  • Launch the data protection procedures.

Quality Assurance/ Evaluation criteria

Inputs

Administrative actions:

  • Decision to create the site
  • Resources/ Budget allocated/ Contracts organised/launched
  • Document management procedures defined
  • Project definition
  • Creative brief (Project definition, including: stakeholders, project sponsor, overall conceptual and visual aims of the site, information on target group(s), how users will experience the site, communication strategy, risks)
  • Architectural requirements: application schema (application architectural requirements, the software components, data access path), the evolution of disk usage and workload, criticality of the application (availability, fail over, contingency), potential security issues (external accesses.
  • Basic concept plan
  • Preliminary risk list

Outputs

  • Project Description and planning instruments (calendar and detailed work breakdown plan, resources allocation, including costs list (figures), etc.)
  • Site specification
  • Capacity plan (DIGIT-DC)
  • Site production checklist
  • Promotion and communication plan
  • CAB approval for starting change implementation (based on received request for change)

Resources

  • Framework contract available (OP)
  • DIGIT (Mirella)
  • DGT-D.2
  • Data Protection Officer
  • Legal service (copyrights)
  • CIRCA support
  • DG’s IRM
  • DG COMM
  • DIGIT ISHS ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT
  • DIGIT-DC Technical project leader
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2.1. Creating a new site

Since the beginning of 2013, the European Commission has embarked on a comprehensive web rationalisation project. It aims to make the institution’s online communication more coherent, relevant and cost-effective. This transformation project encompasses two overlapping phases: the first phase focuses on radical website reduction, the second phase aims to restructure the Commission’s online presence according to user needs.

With this in mind, new websites, by default, must not be created (see note Ares(2013)372665). By way of exception, the creation of a new website can be authorised under certain circumstances (i.e. creation of a website whose life span is strictly limited in time or development of a site that gathers in one single website the content of several other websites whereby the latter can be closed).

The creation of a new website must be part of the communication plan of the information unit of a DG as well as of the global communication plan of the Commission. The goals of the website must be well defined in close consultation with DG Communication’s EUROPA team and all Internet editors concerned by the subject of the site. The construction of the website must be well planned and respect the IPG rules and procedures. Several services of the Commission (DG Communication, DG Informatics, DG Translation, Publications Office) are at your disposal for making your website a success.

A website is just one of the tools that are available to information and communication units to achieve the goals set forward in their communication plan. Its final purpose is to serve its target users well, so that they can perform the tasks for which they visit the site in the most efficient way.

A number of basic questions need to be answered before actually starting the development of a site:

  • Why is the site needed?
  • Who is the site for?
  • What are the main tasks?
  • What will the site contain?
  • How and when will the site be constructed and launched?

To assess that your website will be focused on its users, you can apply this checklist for building successful websitespdf(141 kB) Choose translations of the previous link .

To ensure that your site fits into the Commission’s web presence on EUROPA, that development goes smoothly and that last-minute surprises are avoided, it is essential to consult upfront all relevant stakeholders in the Commission, in particular the EUROPA team in DG Communication and the Internet editors of the DGs that could be interested in the subject of the site. The word “upfront” means that the EUROPA team in DG Communication must be contacted – and a site creation request submitted – before the requesting service commits any budget, enters into any contract and before any development work starts.

Before sending the site creation request to the EUROPA team the endorsement of the Head of the Communication Unit of the requesting DG must be obtained. 

Under certain circumstances, it may be necessary to set up an ad hoc editorial board to accompany the set up of the site. In any case, the EUROPA team must be informed at the very start of the project following the site creation procedures.

If you need an external contractor to develop your site, the Publication Office can offer a large set of services to facilitate electronic publication.

The Informatics DG can give you all the information on the available software tools that you can use for constructing your site.

The standard template must be used for all EUROPA websites.

Last but not least, DG Translation will help you, not only only to translate your web pages, but also to check their editorial quality. DG Translation also advises on the most suitable language policy for your site considering the type of content published as well as the target audience(s).

The following chapters will go into more detail on the:

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2.1.1. Guidelines for defining and measuring websites

This page presents definitions, methods and concepts for the tracking, measuring and evaluating of the Europa online web presence to guide services using the platform. They cover both websites and other web assets.

How to define a website?

To help webmasters decide whether a set of web pages shall be considered as one single website or not, all of the following criteria should be applicable.

To be considered a website, a set of web pages must:

  • Thematic criterion: be thematically related (reflected in the same visual site name).
  • Navigation criterion: have a common integrated navigation system.
  • Visual criterion: have the same look and feel.

If the 3 above criteria apply simultaneously, the considered set of web pages is a single coherent website and should be reported as such. Under this new clarification, the notion of sub-site is no longer relevant.

  • A site name is the common most prominent title available on each page of the set of web pages.
  • A common integrated navigation system is the main navigation available on each page of the set of web pages.

Guideline 1: If a set of web pages matches all of the criteria above, it shall be reported as a website.

What is a web asset?

Content encoded in a machine-readable format and made available over the Internet. Such as HTML files, images, css files, javascript files, etc.

What is a web page?

A webpage is defined as content encoded in a hypertext formatted document (e.g. HTML). A web page regroups web assets needed to convey an editorial message and the means to display it correctly. A web page is either static or dynamic:

  • A static web page is one where the HTML code is stored on the server in the form that it is delivered to the user. It may however be generated from a different format before it is uploaded to the server. Static web pages typically have a unique URL for each page.
  • A dynamic web page is created at the time it is requested. The same URL may have different content depending on the user, time, location, etc.

Guideline 2:  A determination of the size of a static website (or the static part of a dynamic website) should include the number of static web pages as well as the number of other web assets (images, PDF, etc.). As a result, each static web page shall be reported as a separate web page.

Guideline 3: A determination of the size of a dynamic website (or the dynamic parts of a static website) should include the number and size of records or items stored in the databases on which the dynamic website is based. As a result, dynamically created web pages are not a pertinent indicator but rather the number of editorial content items stored in the underlying database(s).

Website purpose and target audience

Websites can only be effectively monitored and analysed if there is a clearly defined purpose and target audience(s). These definitions will help you choose which metrics are the most suitable.

Guideline 4: Define from the outset the purpose of your website and its target audience(s) as a precondition for effectively evaluating your digital presence.

How to calculate the costs of a website?

When calculating the costs of a website, you should take into account both quantitative and qualitative elements, such as:

  1. The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) = (price for editorial content creation and regular updates/ revamp/translation) + (price per site creation/ development/maintenance/ IT updates) + (price for transferring /archiving or site deletion).
  2. Amount of user-generated traffic is a key indicator to justify the existence, the updates costs and the regular IT maintenance of a site.
  3. The costs of a website is proportional to its size and functionalities. It is therefore important to have a clear idea of the contents size and associated IT resources. For static and dynamically  generated pages, these can be found in different ways:
    • For static platforms: through reports on pages views, number of visits over time, site size, number of documents per types (PDF/ videos/ppt).
    • For dynamic platforms: through reports on contents consultation, number of visits over time, size of the database, number of registered users, number of services subscribers (e.g. newsletters).
    • If a site uses a mixed set of technologies, both must be reported and taken into account, because the extra complexity can introduce substantial costs at development time and certainly if an archiving mechanism is needed.
    • Post site activity costs like hosting, IT maintenance, and operating systems upgrades are costs which should also be taken into account when deciding between deleting or archiving a website.

The average price for dynamic webpages archive hosting is 7 times more expensive than those for static websites. A site with a global size less than 2GB and whose content represents a clearly identified interest can be archived following the current archiving procedure.

A website which uses dynamic components requiring possible maintenance, future updates or security maintenance (e.g. databases server updates, security patches, operating systems updates and evolution catch-up) needs to be analysed and converted to static before being archived. This is why dynamic sites must be engineered at the conception phase in such a way that information which does not serve a purpose over an extended period of time can be easily discarded when the archiving phase in its lifecycle is due.

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2.1.2. Objectives and Planning

Before a site project is launched, it is essential to thoroughly verify whether the plan is mature. This concerns mainly the content of the site and the human as well as financial resources. The plans must be made known to and approved by the hierarchy.

A number of elements must be established, to make sure that the site is developed in a consistent way and that it is well integrated in the existing set of Commission sites. For the successful creation and exploitation of a site, there must be well-formulated goals in the context of the overall Information & Communication strategy, knowledge of the preferences and behaviour of the target audiences, understanding of the media, and a sustainable method for regularly updating the site’s contents and operating its services.

Five basic questions must be answered:

Why?   Who?   What?   How?   When?

1. Why? - Type, purpose and mission

A site is created to answer the needs of its future users/readers. Knowing their expectations and needs provides for the foundations of your project. On that basis, you should set the overall goal or the mission of the site and relate it to the relevant EU‑policies and activities. At that stage, it is important to verify if the needs are maybe already covered by other sites and to possibly re-orient the project towards the improvement of the existing site. This may require close consultation with other internet editors and possibly the creation of a joint editorial board.

If it is clear that a new site is needed, decsions must be taken about the main message or messages that you want to get across by means of the site. This will determine the orientation and the type of site that you want to create.

2. Who? - Target audience

A site can be used to address many audiences, from the general public, to the interested stakeholders or specialists.

Identify the category of users you want to reach. Try to define the goals for each type of user. Several different categories of users may be chosen, provided that the content is organised accordingly. Moreover, each particular audience must be able to see clearly from the outset where to go for the desired kind of information. Be aware that the wider the audience, the more need there will be for the rewriting of existing ‘bureaucratic’ texts and for additional languages. Please see the chapter on Editorial style and policy.

There are statistics available on information needs of citizens and enterprises from several different DGs and sectors. EURES network with the EuroAdviser network and EUROPE DIRECT could provide you these kinds of statistics as well.

Several methodspdf(20 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  exist for identifying your target audience.

3. What? - Subject

You must now decide on the main themes and the sub-themes (sections and subsections) of your site. For more details on this task, please see the chapter on Content.

To make sure that the subject is appropriately covered, you may gather information by a number of means:

  • thorough analysis of current information related to your theme(s) already available or dispersed through EUROPA sites, resulting in a content mapping
  • internal survey among the current publishers in all DGs
  • external survey among information specialists

The EUROPA team, who has a fairly good overview on the information available on EUROPA, can be of help during this stage.

4. How & When? - Calendar and work plan

You should set up a clear action plan for creating and maintaining the site. Make sure that the action plan is in proportion to the human and financial resources you have at your disposal, and that you and the other content providers have the same level of commitment to your end-users. The action plan should cover all the phases of the creation of a site (strategy, content/services identification, design/presentation, choice of technology, content creation and/or migration, launching, etc). Any aims for further development of the site should be mentioned in this plan as well.

The basic steps in the creation and management of your site:

  • approval by hierarchy
  • definition of key messages
  • analysis of audience and their expectations
  • Definition of risks
  • task definition and timing (identification of the content, inventory of the existing content and new content, content supply, proposals for navigation and content projects, services and tools devices, testing stages, post-launch monitoring, etc.)
  • site conception: workflow, content, design, navigation and multilingualism
  • technical decisions: which technology, what tools to use
  • planning of resources - decision on whether or not to use outsourcing (e.g. through the Publications Office for tasks like planning, re-purposing of content, implementation and proofreading). Please see the examplepdf(17 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  of resources needed for the creation of a small site.
  • development and/or adaptation of technical platform
  • testing and launching
  • training of staff
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2.1.3. Organisational aspects

The first step in creating a site is to organise a team whose key role is to contribute and edit its overall content and structure. The size of the site and the number of DGs involved will determine the complexity of the organisation to be set up. Such organisation will inevitably cross the administrative boundaries that exist within a DG and sometimes also those existing between DGs. In the case of a site involving several DGs, one DG should take the leadership as DG “chef de file” and should be entrusted with the necessary authority to carry out its role. This has to be acknowledged from the early phases of the project and the existence of an autonomous, dedicated organisational structure, the site's Editorial Board, must be approved by the hierarchy.

Once the site team is formed a charter should be drafted that addresses the vision for the site as well as its users and target group. The charter should also contain approval processes, content management, funding, project management and technology management. Please see point IV in the enclosed Questionnaire.

The organisation that needs to be put in place for a site can vary widely depending on the size and the scope of the site. The description giving hereafter is a comprehensive overview of the organisation that would be needed to manage the policy sites and the main priority sites on EUROPA. Smaller sites will not necessarily need this complete organisational structure. In any case, it is necessary to have a complete understanding about the resources and organisation that will be needed for successful completion of the project.

Resources

Without the necessary resources a project is deemed to fail. Before the final green light can be given, it is necessary to have a complete understanding about the resources and organisation that will be needed for successful completion of the project and a formal commitment from the hierarchy that these resources will indeed be available. For important projects, it may be necessary to foresee different scenarios that contain the scope of the project within the limits of the available resources.

Following elements must be taken into consideration:

  • staff to be dedicated fully or partially to the project
  • available budget
  • requirements for the technical environment
  • time deadlines

Key actors

It is important to clearly assign operational responsibilities of the actors, in order to ensure smooth running of the project. A job description should be provided for each profile outlining the corresponding responsibilities, co-operation patterns, specific tasks, the desirable qualifications and required infrastructure.

Content provider (Authors)

Content providers are responsible for supplying material in the form of articles. These articles fulfil the requirements set by the editorial policy in its entirety. Content providers answer directly to their respective editor.

Editor

The editor’s role is to validate, upload and approve new content and to manage the translation process for the entire content. Their tasks involve also proofreading (spelling, syntax, missing pages, misprints and misplaced content). Editors are directly responsible to their chief editor for their respective theme/information group. If necessary the editor’s task and responsibility can be further split into sub-profiles.

Chief editor

Chief editors are responsible for their respective content area or theme (main-theme). They sit in the Editorial Board and answer directly to the Board itself and its President.

Chief editors review content to be published and give final approval prior to publication. This implies having a good overview of what is available as well as of what is to be published. It also implies making sure that articles comply with the editorial policy on the one hand and with the political priorities of the Commission on the other.

In some cases the thematic approach may show gaps in the information available or, worse still, may pose the dilemma of what to publish in the presence of controversial or even clashing policies between DGs. In such cases, chief editors have the task of finding compromises and creating a consensus across the administrative boundaries of DGs. It is therefore essential that chief editors have the appropriate degree of authority and that a proper share of their time resources is allocated to the task.

Chief editors also report to the Editorial Board about any problems encountered or suggestions put forward by their editors and content providers.

Site editor

The site editor is ultimately responsible for the site, belonging to the leading DG and chairing the Editorial Board.

Audiovisual editor

The person responsible for acquiring, editing and managing audiovisual material.

Editorial Board

Role

The Editorial Board shapes the editorial policy and thematic approach, manages their implementation and monitors the operation of the content/services supply chain.

The Editorial Board also reviews the structure of the site, notably with respect to the main themes, sub-themes and newsletters and approves (or rejects) amendments to such structure.

The Editorial Board will analyse the results of feedback tools and make decisions regarding the reorientation of the content and service requirements if needed. He/she will also co-ordinate with the horizontal services (Publications Office, DI, etc.) in order to make best use of common methodologies and e-services support functions.

Competence

Even if the editorial policy could expand with the experience of all actors involved in the site, final decisions should lie with the Editorial Board. New themes or audience sites should be suggested and approved at the meetings of the Editorial Board. The organisational model, however, should not be too rigid in order to provide for smooth operation across implicated services.

Composition

President

The Editorial Board is chaired by the site editor from the DG “chef de file”, who takes ultimate responsibility for the site.

Chief editors

The core of the Editorial Board is made up by all the chief editors, who are empowered to decide what the site should contain and what should or should not be published.

Senior management delegate

A senior management member (Commissioners’ staff for instance) should be on the Editorial Board. This person would provide input as to the political message and politically sensitive areas of information.

EUROPA representation

A member of the EUROPA team should be included to ensure co-ordination with existing or new horizontal developments within EUROPA.

Translators

A member of the web translation unit from DG Translation should be part of the Editorial Board to give advice on editorial and multilingual issues.

Technical managers

The technical departments of DG Informatics offering the services for content production and dissemination should also be represented within in the Editorial Board. They can advice the board on technical issues or features and their compatibility with technical/operational environment of the portal.

Contractor

In case use is made of an external contractor, the external project manager should also be allowed to assist to the meetings of the editorial board. When use is made of one of the framework contracts offered by the Publications Office, they should be represented as well.

Approval procedures

In parallel with the assignment of responsibilities to the different key actors, a comprehensive overview of the content management workflowpdf(22 kB) and its associated approval procedures must be established.

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2.1.4. Project Workflow

The construction of a site goes through several phases:

  • During the preparatory phase, the site's objectives are defined and agreement is reached between the various stakeholders. This results in a detailed site specifications concept plan for briefing the web designers.
  • Follows an iterative phase of prototypes production, resulting in a final design of the website.
  • Next the site will be filled with its initial content.
  • Before launch, a final quality control is done on the site.
  • Once operational, the site must continuously be updated and improved in order to keep the interest of its visitors alive.

First step: definition of the project

As explained in the chapter 'Objectives and planning', during the preparatory phase the various stakeholders will have reached agreement on the site's objectives and on the resources that will be allocated to the project.

This agreement must now be detailed and must result in a brief to the web designers, a document including:

  • the aims and objectives of the site
  • the audience/s it is to address
  • the criteria on which their design will be judged
  • timetable for site design
  • navigation, content hierarchy and content structure
  • alternative navigation systems and transaction services such as search facility, site map, FAQs, feedback, automatic notifications, etc.
  • wire-frames
  • the EUROPA templates
  • the existing presentation style guidelines for EUROPA
  • the legal requirements such as legal notices, data protection and accessibility
  • the technical requirements
    • Where the site will be hosted (see Infrastructure)?
    • Which technology and what tools will be used?
    • What kind of database will be used if any?
    • Specifications of user platforms (browsers environment, connection speed optimisation, etc.)

Second step: site design

1. Rough structure of the site

2. “Storyboard” of the site (i.e. interaction of the potential user with your site)

3. Graphical mock-ups of the Homepage and other representative pages

4. Creation of an interactive prototype (where some relevant links and buttons work) if needed.

Web designers should develop a few ‘look and feel’ ideas to consider. These can be wire-frames, storyboards or mock-ups underlying the information design of the Homepage and the various page types. Once the logical approach has been approved, then web designers will create a few graphical prototypes either as images or as HTML pages. All stakeholders should evaluate these proposals. Getting user feedback will be also very useful in order to assess the efficacy of a particular web design.

Validation by ALL the members concerned (also and especially at political level) of the prototype after the necessary feedback and eventual modifications.

5. Creation of the site’s own graphical chart and set of HTML templates. Creation of images or illustrations.

Prototype designs should evolve until a final decision has been made on one specific design. Web designers should provide then a complete site graphic design specifications for all page types. Finished HTML templates, examples of key pages and illustrations, photography or other audiovisual material will also be provided.

At the end of this step, the resulting design must be submitted to the EUROPA team for validation.

Third step: initial load

The workload associated with this step will vary widely according to the nature and type of site. In some cases only minimal content must be loaded (e.g. a news site). Sometimes a complete set of new content will have to be created and loaded, resulting in a very long initial load phase. In case of redesign of a site, migration of existing content will be necessary, in which case an in depth 'cleaning up' exercise should be envisaged.

Fourth step: check and quality control

Before launch, you should perform a final check of the site. Make sure that all remarks put forward during quality control by the EUROPA team have been taken into account. Use the checklist and add your own specific controls to it so that it can be used for controlling new additions.

Fifth step: Maintenance

1. Update your website regularly in order to ensure that content is always up to date and remains attractive. Don’t change the essential parts of the design; let the user become familiar with the look, navigation, interface of your site.

2. Collect effective images to illustrate the themes, especially in the portal pages. (While being aware of copyright issues, of course).

3. Adapt the graphical style of the interface to meet changes in the structure (i.e. making new buttons or icons matching the existing).

4. Encourage people who supply written content to include illustrations in their manuscripts. Don’t allow ad hoc changes to essential parts of the site (navigation, interface, typography …). Fix a graphical charter for your site and stick to it - until you decide to change it.

5. If the structure of information of the site changes substantially, then a complete renovation is needed, and you should return to the first step.

Inputs

  • Site specification/Concept paper/ Project description
    • target audience
    • subject of the website
    • navigation/organizational structure of the site
  • Relevant standards (IPG, technical standards)
  • Relevant contraints (Data Centre, DIGIT, etc.)
  • EUROPA templates
  • Illustrations, photography, audiovisual content
  • Copyrights
  • Standard central images

Outputs

  • Interface design and master pages
  • Graphic charter: graphic design specifications for all page types and levels
  • Illustrations, Photography, other A/V, etc.
  • Finished HTML template pages
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2.1.5. Resources

DGs can get support for their site projects from four services: DG Communication, DG Translation, DG Informatics and the Publications Office.

  • The EUROPA team in DG Communication gives editorial advice during the entire period of site creation. It also performs the quality check of the site prior to publication.
  • The web translation unit can help you, not only for translating the web pages, but also for checking the language quality of your original texts.  
  • DG Informatics together with the technical team in DG Communication advises on technical implications. It checks with the originating department whether the techniques envisaged for implementing the project on EUROPA are compatible with the Commission’s general informatics architecture and that of the EUROPA server in particular. DG Informatics provides the necessary infrastructure core e-services to implement the project. (e.g. Authoring or Interactive services).
  • The Publications Office gives advice during the planning period. It can also help you with implementing your outsourcing scenario for all processes through its framework contracts (see Publications Office website on MyIntracomm and its website on EUROPA).

Apart from the information contained in the IPG, the major other information sources in this context are: 

  • The Interinstitutional Style Guide defines the standard drafting conventions for all the institutions in all the official languages (e.g. official names for countries, institutions, currencies, etc.).
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2.1.6. Services

A site must integrate all services that are relevant for the theme being dealt with or the audience being targeted. The services offered range from basic ones that must be available on all sites to sophisticated transaction services that are tailored to the specific needs of the site's users. A whole spectrum of technical tools and e-services is available to implement these services.

Services can be broken down into the following categories:

General ‘first help’ horizontal services

Contact, FAQ, About, Site map, Search, A-Z Index

These services help the users get to know the site, either through immediate information or via a contact point. They are basic services that must be offered on each page of the site at the mandatory place on the screen.

More specific or contextual information services

What’s new, Reference library, Glossary, Key Issues, Information bulletin, Who’s who in the DG or the theme area, related events…

These services help the users to find information, news, subjects, and documents on the site. It is important that these services cover the complete set of information that the site wishes to provide. The glossary, for example, should contain all terms, i.e. those present in the site pages themselves as well as those present in the pages the site links to.

Interactive services

Blogs, Vlogs, Discussion forums, Chats, Social networks, Subscriptions, Surveys, Feedback, e-voting, Site rating, Information sharing, Syndication, Interactive maps

These services establish a direct interaction with the citizens, media, business, opinion leaders or decision makers. Their set-up should be carefully planned and cannot take place without provision for the proper back office facilities to support and manage them.

The "Flexible Platform" environment offers plenty of interactive services.

Transaction services

Ordering, Application, Calls for tender, Project management, Events registration

For online transactions a secure connection and online credit card verification should be established. The transaction for the payment should be safe. The Publications Office offers the features for online payments of publications (EU Bookshop).

  • The privacy statement must be clearly stated.
  • The return policy must be clearly stated.
  • Delivery methods and timing must be described.
  • The order page must be secure.

Personalization

One of the possible assets of a site is its ability to be personalised. Although it is by no means required, it adds greatly to the usefulness and overall site experience if the users can choose the elements on display on the site. Furthermore, personalisation is something users have come to expect; failing to offer it might lead to disappointment.

There are several ways of implementing a personalised site:

Personal profiles

This form of personalisation requires the users to be 'known' to the site (through either direct or indirect sign-on), so that the site's content can be dynamically generated in function of the users' needs. This calls for the putting in place of a sign-on mechanism and policy. Sign-on policies can be based on Roles (e.g. lawyers, business me, etc.) A main problem with Roles springs from the underlying assumption that users can only take one role, which is not necessarily the case. An alternative to the Roles approach consists of using Rules instead of Roles. Rules are policies or conventions that are set up to achieve efficiencies and that are independent of the specific role of the users in question. (e.g. geographic location of the users, current time and date ...) An advantage of a rule-based policy is the flexibility it provides. In addition, it is much easier to use this approach if users access changes frequently. The main disadvantage comes to the fore on times when users require specific information due to his or her role, that they are not able to access because a more general rule keeps them from doing so. In an attempt to get the best from both worlds, most organisations prefer to run a Role-Rule "hybrid" that best fits their needs.

Pre-defined user classes

This technique is entirely based on the definition of Roles. Instead of having the user log on to the site, this approach considers a role as a pre-defined ‘user class’, the features and characteristics of which are discovered when defining the site’s target audience. The site’s Editorial Board plans for a separate section for each of the identified user classes, in which information access is structured to suit their specific needs. This approach is less demanding on the technology side and may also be perceived as less intrusive by the user (no need to login), yet it calls for a great deal of careful on-beforehand planning.

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2.1.7. Quality requirements

Sites on EUROPA must satisfy the quality requirements described in this guide. DG Communication offers a quality control service that checks the editorial as well as the technical quality of the site.

The quality control, which is carried out both for the technical as well as the editorial aspect of the site, aims to help DGs to improve the quality of their websites by identifying shortcomings and errors as far as the IPG is concerned and by making suggestions on how to improve their site. The chapter on quality assurance gives a complete overview of the work involved and contains checklists that can be used during construction of the site in order to ensure that the final product complies to the IPG requirements.

Whenever site construction is outsourced, the contract must contain the necessary clauses to ensure the site quality according to the IPG rules. For all contracts concluded via the Publications Office, the conformity to quality criteria (e.g. IPG) is included.

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2.2. Types of websites

Official websites of the EU must always be part of the europa.eu domain. Sites managed by the Commission can belong to:

  • the institution-independent europa.eu domain: sites which mission and content go beyond the activities of one single EU institution, or covers a policy, activity or campaign which is common to the different EU institutions and bodies.
  • the Commission domain ec.europa.eu: sites which provide information or services related to the activities of the Commission's Directorates-General.

The inventory of EUROPA websites lists all the sites managed by the Commission specifying the URL, the manager and much other information for each site.

These websites can be divided into several categories:

  1. Generic sites
  2. Organisation oriented sites

All websites on EUROPA must follow the rules described in this Information Providers Guide (IPG). Particular attention should be given to the following basic rules:

  • Sites have to use the standard templates, either the Interinstitutional template or the  Commission's template.
  • Certain elements concerning legislation, statistics, press releases, publications, relevant Directorate(s)-General, policies, etc. should be present:
    • For "legislation", link to EUR-Lex
    • For "press releases", link to RAPID
    • For "statistics" link to EUROSTAT
    • For "publications", link to OP
    • For "DG" site, link to the sites of the DG(s) managing the thematic site (http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/<dg_name>/index_xx.htm)
    • For general EU information on the policy, link to interinstitutional page (http://europa.eu/pol/<policy>/index_en.htm)
  • Its content has to be available in all official languages or as many of the official languages as possible; if not, the reason(s) why should be clearly explained somewhere in the site.
  • The purpose and the target audience(s) of the site have to be specified on the home page or on a page at the highest/entry level of the site.
  • The site has to be structured by subject in an intuitive and user-friendly way.
  • All names of folders and files have to be in English and in lower case.
  • The language of each page has to be indicated as per relevant template.
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2.2.1. Generic

The purpose of generic sites is to provide information and ensure communication in the relevant field within a coherent and stable framework independent of the Commission's administrative structure.

Description

Generic sites are created to offer the visitor a user and task oriented view on the activities of EU in general and the Commission in particular. Every generic site is managed by a leader who is responsible for designing the contents of the site in accordance with the rules laid down in the IPG, and for ensuring that information is regularly updated. The leader has overall responsibility for editorial quality (updating, coherence, multilingualism, graphics, etc.) and the technical aspects of the site. He ensures that the site is easily accessible on EUROPA.

Generic sites are directly accessible from the following pages:

If information on the generic site emanates from several DGs, the leader coordinates design and updating through a steering committee which he convenes as often as required. All the originating DGs take an active part in the committee's work. The committee also comprises a member of the EUROPA team in DG Communication. The members of the steering committee are appointed by their own DG.

The EUROPA Editorial Committee (EEC) grants every generic site leader the necessary powers vis-à-vis the other participating DGs. Each leader regularly reports back to the EEC on the current state of its site. Leaders are free to decide whether site management will be centralised (which ensures better coherence but involves a considerable workload for the leader) or decentralised (requiring close coordination by the leader between the various units involved).

The  list of current generic sites specifies the URL, the leader and the DGs associated with each site. At a  DG's request, additions may be made to the list.

Types of Generic sites

'Generic' sites include:

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2.2.1.1. Policy site

Site giving information on a specific policy for which the Commission is responsible (e.g. environment, health, agriculture ...)

Description

A "Policy" site deals with a specific area of activity for which the Commission is responsible (e.g. environment, health, agriculture ...).  Policy sites constitute the core of the Commission site. They are managed in a decentralised way by the web teams in the DGs. Policy sites present all the information on the given policy independent from the internal organisation of the Commission.

 

Example

Policy site: Energy

URL

  • http://ec.europa.eu/<policy>/index_xx.htm 

Recommended Technology

"Policy" sites should be constructed and maintained using the Commission's Corporate Web Content Management System.

Criteria

A "Policy" site should attach particular importance to the following criteria:

  • Although a policy site is always administered by the web team of one single DG, it must not be confused with a DG site. Even if one DG is clearly the leader, most of the Commission policies need close collaboration between several DGs and in some cases a particular policy can be co-managed by several DGs on an equal basis. Whatever the situation, a policy site should present all the information on the given policy independent from the internal organisation of the Commission. It should behave as a portal and contain all the links to the relevant subchapters on other policy sites. A policy site must present all the information. 
  • The latest information on the policy must be promoted prominently. Special attention must thus be given to the "Press releases" section. This is the minimum to be included on a policy site but it is advisable to go further and create a "News" page to provide the media with additional topical information (e.g. specialised newsletters, calendar of events, photos, videos, speeches and other multimedia material). 
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2.2.1.2. Priority site

Site dealing with a subject that has a high priority within the EU context

Description

A "Priority" site deals with a subject that was given high priority in the yearly work program on inter-institutional or Commission level or that is getting much attention in the public sphere, possibly for a limited period (a "hot topic"). 

If the subject is formally recognised as having high priority, it is justified to dedicate a complete separate site to it. If the subject is no longer a priority, the site may disappear and be archived or integrated within a policy site.

If the subject is not formally identified as having high priority, but still important enough to get special treatment, no separate site should be created. Instead, one should create a section in the relevant policy site that is completely integrated in it. In that case a short URL-alias can be allocated to give the priority site a specific name.

The purpose of the site should be clearly specified.

Example

Priority site:

URL

The URL will depend on the level of priority. If the priority is formally recognised as having high priority, it is justified to dedicate a complete separate site to it, that has an URL on its own. If it concerns an important topic that has not formally high priority, the site should be integrated in the relevant policy site. For the purpose of promotion and visibility, it may then have a short alias, redirecting to the real address of the site:

  • priority at EU level:  http://europa.eu/<priority>
  • priority at Commission level: http://ec.europa.eu/<priority>
  •  important topic:  http://ec.europa.eu/<priority redirecting to http://ec.europa.eu/<policy>/…/<priority> 

Recommended technology

"Priority" sites should be constructed and maintained using the Commission's Corporate Web Content Management System.

Criteria

A "Priority" site should attach particular importance to the same criteria as a "Policy" site.

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2.2.1.3. Programme site

Site offering direct services to users in the context of a programme managed by the Commission

Description

A "Programme" site is created to support a particular programme managed by the Commission. It offers information about the programme and provides services to participants of the programme. Programme sites may consist of a closed and an open part: the closed part being only accessible to a closed group of registered users, the open part offering information to everybody.

Example

Programme siteMarie Curie Actions

URL

  • Main URL of the site giving access to the public information

http://ec.europa.eu/<programme>/index_xx.htm, redirecting to http://ec.europa.eu/<policy>/.../<programme>/index_xx.htm

  • URL of the closed part

The closed part, for technical and/or security reasons, should use an URL in the 'webgate' domain

https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/<programme>/index_xx.htm

Recommended Technology

"Programme" sites should be constructed and maintained using the Commission's Corporate Web Content Management System. In order to offer the interactive services needed to support the programme, parts of the site may use other technology (JSP, Drupal ...).

Criteria

A "Programme" site should attach particular importance to the following criteria:

  • The site should focus only on the programme itself and must refer to the relevant policy site for background information.
  • The number of languages in which a programme site is offered will depend mainly on the audience targeted. Programmes targeting a very specialised audience (e.g. research programs) may have been limited in terms of multilingualism. Programmes targeting a very wide audience should be available in all official languages or as many of the official languages as possible; if not, the reason(s) why should be clearly explained somewhere in the site.
  • The purpose and the target audience(s)  of the site have to be specified on the home page or on a page at the highest/entry level of the site.
  • Whenever links are made to the closed part of the site, the user must be warned that he will enter a restricted area of the site and he must be informed about the conditions required to apply to the group of users that can have access to it.
  • The closed part of the site must implement the necessary security measure for protecting the restricted area in the most appropriate way.
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2.2.1.4. Campaign site

Highly interactive site in support of a specific communication campaign

Description

A "Campaign" site is created to support a specific communication campaign with interactive events on the Internet. It will thus generally contain highly interactive elements that require specific technology. The site should focus purely on communication and should refer to the relevant policy site for background information.

Example

URL

"Campaign" sites are always targeting the general public and should thus be part of the institution-independent europa.eu domain. The recommendation is to define the site as a subsite of europa.eu:

http://europa.eu/<campaign>/index_xx.htm

Given its short lifetime (in general less than a year), use of a top level name such as http://<campaign>.europa.eu should be avoided.

Recommended technology

"Campaign" site should use the technology that is most appropriate to deliver the functionality required by it. Several options are open: Flash, JSP, ColdFusion, Drupal, Documentum ...

The choice should be made in consultation with DG COMM and DIGIT.

Criteria

 A "Campaign" site should attach particular importance to the following criteria:

  • The site should focus purely on communication and should refer to the relevant policy site for background information.
  • The graphical presentation of the site and the language used must be adapted to the purpose of the site, i.e. 'communication'. Nevertheless, given that a campaign site is still an official EU site, the basic rules about presentation should still be respected, in particular with respect to the use of the template: the EUROPA template must be used. 
  • The number of languages in which a campaign site is offered will depend mainly on the audience targeted. In general, campaigns will target the widest audience possible and the supporting site should thus be available in all official languages. 
  • It must be very clear on the home page which audience is targeted.
  • The site must be taken off line at the end of the campaign.
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2.2.1.5. Event site

Site created in the context of a particular event. Aimed at promoting the event and supporting its organisation.

Description

An "Event" site is created in the context of a particular event (e.g. Green Week). Its main purpose is to promote the event and to provide electronic services to support its organisation (e.g. subscription forms). An event site always fits within a particular policy site, but can be promoted separately to improve its visibility to the outside world. It should focus only on the event itself and not repeat the background information that can be found through links on the relevant policy site.

Example

One can distinguish several types of event sites, depending on the nature and lifetime of an event:

Important recurring event: European week of Regions and cities

One-off specialised event: European Future Technologies Conference and Exhibition

URL

The URL to be used for an event site will depend on the nature of the event.

For important EU events targeting the general public, an URL in the europa.eu domain should be used. Preference should be given to sub-URLs, possibly supplemented by top-level aliases for very important public events. 

http://europa.eu/<event>/index_xx.htm

For more specialised events of conferences organised by individual DGs, an URL in the ec.europa.eu domain must be used. An alias can be created that redirects to a section within the parent policy site.

http://ec.europa.eu/<event>/index_xx.htm, redirecting to http://ec.europa.eu/<policy>/.../<event>/index_xx.htm.

Recommended technology

The "Event" site should use the technology that is most appropriate to deliver the functionality required by it. Several options are open:

Flash, JSP, ColdFusion, Drupal, Documentum ...

In the framework of the "Flexible Platform", a standard "event site" was created. This environment can be used to generate a new event site in very short time by means of simple customisation rules. This solution should be adopted whenever possible. In any case, the choice of technical solution should always be made in consultation with DG COMM and DIGIT.

Criteria

An "Event" site should attach particular importance to the following criteria:

  • The site should focus only on the event itself and must refer to the relevant policy site for background information.
  • The number of languages in which en event site is offered will depend mainly on the audience targeted. If a very specialised audience is targeted the site could be be limited in terms of multilingualism. However, sites targeting a very wide audience should be available in all official languages or as many of the official languages as possible; if not, the reason(s) why should be clearly explained somewhere in the site. 
  • It must be very clear on the home page which audience is targeted.
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2.2.1.6. Service site

Site offering a specific service to the visitor (e.g. electronic bookshop, translations, customized consultancy for specific queries, etc.)

Description

A "Service" site focuses on offering a well-defined specific service to the visitor. Electronic services can be offered in multiple contexts, either as part of a general site or as a stand-alone service. This sheet talks about stand-alone service sites that have no other means than offering the service concerned. "Service" sites can address a general audience or can focus on a particular group of stakeholders.

Example

Service sites:

  • EU bookshop: central site managed by the Publications Office where visitors can find information on publications of all EU institutions and possibly order them. The EU Bookshop targets a general audience.
  • EU Press Room: portal grouping all the services that the EU is offering to journalists: press releases, media libraries, broadcasting, etc. 
  • EU law in force: central database of all official EU legislation.
  • Researches in Motion: a one-stop shop for researchers seeking to advance their careers and personal development by moving to other countries.

URL

  • http://ec.europa.eu/<service_name> for services offered by the Commission
  • http://europa.eu/<service_name> or http://<service>.europa.eu for services offered by an interinstitutional organism

Criteria

A "Service" site should attach particular importance to the following criteria:

  • A "Service" site should focus on the service itself and must refer to the relevant policy site for background information.
  • A "Service" site must be completely task-oriented: when entering the site, it must be immediately clear for the visitor what he can do and what is the most efficient way to do it.
  • The number of languages in which a service site is offered will depend mainly on the audience targeted. If a very specialised audience is targeted the site could be limited in terms of multilingualism. However, sites targeting a very wide audience should be available in all official languages or as many of the official languages as possible; if not, the reason(s) why should be clearly explained somewhere in the site.
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2.2.1.7. Audience site

Portal offering specific services to a particular audience and providing the gateway to all relevant sites within EUROPA that are of interest for this audience

Description

An "Audience" site is targeted on a particular section of the public to offer direct access to selected information of specific interest to this audience (e.g. senior citizens, the scientific community, the media). Users should be able to find the information they are looking for without having to be familiar with the internal organisational complexities of the Commission.  

Example

Audience site: Researches in Motion

URL

Depending on the audience addressed, the site should be hosted in the EUROPA or the Commission domain:

  • http://ec.europa.eu/<audience>/index_xx.htm or
  • http://europa.eu/<audience>/index_xx.htm

 

Recommended Technology

The core of an "Audience" site should be constructed and maintained using the Commission's Corporate Web Content Management System. In order to offer the interactive services needed, parts of the site may use other technology (JSP, Drupal ...)

Specific Criteria

An "Audience" site should attach particular importance to the following criteria:

  • An "Audience" site should behave as a portal, offering all relevant services to the audience concerned and providing a gateway to all relevant sites within EUROPA that can interest the audience.
  • The number of languages in which an "Audience" site is offered will depend mainly on the audience targeted. If a very specialised audience is targeted the site could be limited in terms of multilingualism. However, sites targeting a very wide audience should be available in all official languages or as many of the official languages as possible; if not, the reason(s) why should be clearly explained somewhere in the site.
  • It must be very clear on the home page which audience is targeted.
  • The graphical presentation of the site and the language used must be adapted to the audience targeted.
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2.2.2. Organisational sites

The purpose of organisational sites is to provide information about the Commission's organisation.

Description

An organisational site provides information about the internal organisation of the Commission or is a "Service" site that is used to organise and support the collaboration with external partners. There are 2 types of organisation sites:

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2.2.2.1. Functional sites of the Directorates-General

A DG site provides information on the mission of a Directorate General and on its internal organisation.

Description

Each Directorate-General provides the following information on its functional site:

  • the DG's mission
  • organisation chart (a simple link to "EU Whoiswho", the official directory of the European Union - instead of including the chart - avoids duplication and the risk of differences in updating)
  • link to their Commissioner's site
  • link to the "Policy" site or sites which wholly or partly come under the DG's responsibilities

Example

URL

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/<service_name>/index_xx.htm

Recommended technology

DG sites should be constructed and maintained using the Commission's Corporate Web Content Management System.

Criteria

A DG site should attach particular importance to the following criteria:

  • The information given must be very factual and minimalistic: only some minimum content regarding the mission, organisation chart, the relevant Commissioner and link(s)to relevant  thematic site(s) should be present.
  • For a detailed organisation chart, the site should link to the Commission Directory.


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2.2.2.2. Commissioners' sites

Each Commissioner has its own site on which he presents his views and responsibilities.

Description

The sites of the Members of the Commission are managed by the private offices (Cabinets) or by the departments (at the Cabinet's request) and are subject to the rules laid down in the IPG. These sites must at least contain the following:

  • curriculum vitae of the Member of the Commission
  • speeches (link to RAPID)
  • link to the site(s) of the DGs for which the Commissioner is responsible

Example

URL

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/<commissioner>/index_xx.htm

Recommended technology

Commissioners sites should be constructed and maintained using the Commission's Corporate Web Content Management System.

Criteria

Commissioners sites should preferably be constructed following a standard structure composed of the following elements:

  • a section 'About the Commissioner' with the following information:
    • mandate
    • CV
    • declaration of interest
    • composition of the Commissioner's Cabinet 
    • link to the site(s) of the DGs for which the Commissioner is responsible
    • Commissioner's agenda
    • contact information
  • latest news
  • summaries of and links to speeches and key documents
  • multimedia gallery
  • interactive section (blog, vlog ...)

 

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2.2.2.3. Collaborative site

A collaborative site offers collaborative services to a group of users that share a common interest. Services include document sharing, work planning, contact management, collaborative workspaces, discussions, wikis, personal profiling, etc. Most collaborative sites are restricted to a closed user population and thus belong to a different family than the 'normal' information and communication sites on EUROPA.

Description

A collaborative site is a specific case of a service site that focuses on establishing a virtual environment to enhance collaboration between the members of a working group. Most collaborative sites are thus not really part of the normal EUROPA family, but in many cases the results produced by the collaboration are published on a 'normal' EUROPA site. It is important to separate the closed collaborative part from the open dissemination site. Whenever possible the two environments must be well separated and accessed via different addresses. Only when the collaborative section of the site is small and open to everybody can the site be presented under one access point.

A collaborative site can offer a large range of services:

Documents sharing 

A common repository of documents that constitute the knowledge base of the working group. A sophisticated document access management is part of the service.

Communication

Tools for work planning, task management, contact management, integrated mail and conferencing tools.

Collaboration

Integrated threaded discussions, blogs, and wikis with related content and federated search.

People management

Facebook-like user profiles, friends, message boards.

Example

Internal Market Information System IMI

https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/imi-net/

URL

Closed collaborative sites cannot be integrated in normal Europa sites. They must be integrated in the 'webgate' family of web applications and use the secure 'http' protocol. Their URL will thus have the following format:

https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/<service-name>

Recommended technology

Given the wide diversity of collaborative services, it is not possible to recommend one particular technical tool to implement a particular collaborative site. Several approaches are possible:

  • CIRCABC is a generic tool for collaborative sites that was created in the context of the IDABC program. 
  • Sharepoint, the internal collaborative tool is also a potential candidate for creating collaborative sites.  
  • The Flexible Platform offers a set of interactive tools (blogs, forums, wikis ...) that can be used to create the services of a collaborative site.
  • In some cases, it may be necessary to create a specific environment using one of the generic application technologies.

Specific criteria

Collaborative sites are usually closed sites and are thus not really part of the normal EUROPA family. When such a site is referenced from a 'normal' EUROPA page, the corresponding link should be accompanied by a warning message explaining to the visitor that he will be directed to a closed site requiring a login/password in order to be accessed. The visitor should also be informed about the nature of the site and its target audience. The same information must be provided on the home page (login page) of the collaborative site together with and explanation of the procedure for obtaining a user account.

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2.3. Mobile web

'Mobile web' refers to the use of a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, to access the Internet – something more and more Europeans are doing. It is therefore important that the European Commission's websites and related tools are optimised for viewing on mobile devices.

The Europa team at DG COMM provides support for two of the most popular options for mobile web projects: responsive web design and mobile applications.

Whether or not you are planning a mobile web project, your current website is still accessible on mobile devices. Discover some quick fixes for better browsing on mobiles to see what you can already do to improve your website.

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2.3.1. Website or mobile app?

Given a choice, it is almost always better to offer digital services via a website instead of a mobile application (app). A website is cheaper and easier to maintain, and a lot more people will see the content.

If you build your site according to the principles of 'responsive design', that one site can be served to desktop screens, tablets and smartphones – with the layout automatically optimized for the screen size of the device it is being viewed on.

Thanks to this one‑website‑fits‑all approach, your content can be accessed by the widest audience possible no matter what device they are using.

Why a responsive site is better:

  • Cheaper: Only one site needs to be developed. Developing an app is more expensive, because you need a different app for each mobile platform (Apple, Android, etc.).
  • Easier to maintain: A responsive design website can be easily maintained in-house with standard web publishing tools. Updates to content can be made immediately. Updating an app requires additional development by a contractor. Then the app must be re‑validated by the app store, which can take weeks. An app needs to be tested every time there is a change to a mobile operating system (which happens at least once a year).
  • Easier to find: The entire content of a website is indexed directly by search engines so it can all be easily found. An app is more difficult to find, and only its app store page is indexed by search engines.
  • Less competition: A mobile app is in constant competition with other apps for a user's attention. The average smartphone user has 41 apps installed on their phone, but 51% of them only use 1 to 5 apps per week. One quarter of downloaded apps are opened once and then never again.
  • Easier to monitor: Website analytics provide many metrics indicating how visitors use a site. It is more difficult to measure app usage apart from the number of downloads.
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2.3.2. Responsive web design

In responsive web design, the same website is served to desktop screens, tablets and smartphones but the layout changes and adapts to the screen size. One website fits all. It allows content to be accessed by the widest audience possible no matter what device they are using.

Responsive web design has grown in popularity since 2011 and is considered a good approach to manage a website as the variety in screen sizes continues to increase. The first Europa website to become responsive was Your Europe Citizens.

 

Standard templates in responsive design

The inter-institutional and European Commission templates are now available in a responsive design.

Think "mobile first"

You should think of mobile visitors first when planning your content and layout. Give priority to tasks and content that are most important for them. Then, for each breakpoint of the template, arrange content and features according to the different screen sizes.

Implications for your content

In responsive web design, a page of text that is completely visible on a desktop screen will require some scrolling on a smartphone screen. This is unavoidable but you can provide a better browsing experience by ensuring that your texts are easy to read and easy to scan.

Much of the advice in the 'Writing for the Web' pages is even more important to consider when managing a responsive website: the 'bite, snack, meal' structure, short paragraphs, concise texts and meaningful headings.

If you are moving a website to the new template then you should take the opportunity to review your existing content and simplify it and reduce it.

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2.3.3. Mobile applications

Mandatory requirement Single corporate European Commission accounts has to be used for all of the major app stores.

View all IPG Rules

A mobile application (or 'app') is a dedicated software application built specifically for certain smartphone or tablet operating systems (Apple, Android, Windows, BlackBerry). They are distributed through app stores that are usually managed by the owner of the mobile operating system.

If what you want your app to do can be done in a website, then it's best to do it in a website. It's cheaper and easier to maintain and a lot more people will see the content. See choosing the best option.

If you decide on an app then these pages describe how to plan it, what to include in your terms of reference and how you can submit it through the Commission's app store accounts.

Please contact the EUROPA team at an early stage so we can provide help and guidance and help make your app a success. This will also allow us to plan submitting the app to the relevant app store.

Plan the app

Like a website, you should have a clear idea of what the app should do and what you want to achieve with it.

  • Define what you want to achieve.
  • Define your audience and consider whether this audience use mobile apps
  • Be clear about what your app will do. Apps are for simple related tasks. Do not add unnecessary features.
  • Decide how you will measure performance:
    • Download figures are an indicator but not always reliable. Only Google Play provides information on how many people uninstall an app but this is usually 30-40% of the total download figure. (Note that the EUROPA team is investigating solutions for in-app analytics).
    • Increase in visits to website
    • Increase in queries to support helpdesk etc.
  • Decide on the platforms that you will develop for. As a public service, the Commission cannot favour one platform over another but app development is expensive and so cost versus reach has to be considered. 
  • Decide on the languages in which that the app will be available.

 

Terms of reference

When drafting your terms of reference, make sure to consider the following:

  • Maintenance: make sure your foresee maintenance for bug fixes and for possible modifications to ensure the app works with subsequent new versions of mobile operating systems.
  • Professionally written copy for app store descriptions.
  • Professionally designed app icons (in line with the visual identity) and screenshots for the app store pages.
  • Commission access to test versions (using products such as TestFlight for iOS).

 

Design and user interface

The different platforms have written extensive user interface guidelines. These should be consulted and your contractors should design with these in mind:

In addition, the Commission's visual identity graphic charter will be expanded to include guidelines for mobile apps.

 

European Commission corporate app store accounts

The EUROPA team has created corporate European Commission accounts in each of the major app stores (Apple App Store, Google Play for Android devices, Windows Phone Marketplace and BlackBerry App World).

This saves on individual account registration costs and eliminates the administrative workload required in setting them up.

Commission services or their contractors can't be given access to these accounts because it is not possible to assign rights for specific apps.

The final build/signature of the app must be done by the EUROPA team because, with the exception of Windows Phone apps, an app must be electronically signed with the Commission's app store private keys.

To use the accounts, you should contact the EUROPA team at the start of your project and provide details, planned launch dates and a contact person. You should foresee sufficient time – it takes Apple around two weeks to approve apps.

What to send

Here is what must be sent to the EUROPA team for the different platforms:

  • Apple

Send a zip file containing the app project source files. The EUROPA team should be contacted beforehand and they will inform you what 'bundle ID' to use in the app code. The app will be compiled and built in the latest version of Xcode and so your source files must be compatible with it.

Some texts and images must also be sent that will be used in the app's app store page. Full details are provided in the Apple App Store: Text and images documentpdf(35 kB) Choose translations of the previous link .

It takes between 8 and 10 days for Apple to review an app.

  • BlackBerry

Send a zip file containing the app project source files. The EUROPA team will also provide details on what text and images for the app store have to be provided.

The approval process for BlackBerry apps is between 3 and 5 days.

  • Google Play Store

Send an unsigned version of the Android application package file (APK). The standard configuration in Eclipse sets a debug signed key by default so the contractor should verify that the APK is unsigned before sending it to the EUROPA team.

Some texts and images must also be sent that will be used in the app's app store page. Full details are provided in the Google Play app store: Text and images documentpdf(27 kB) Choose translations of the previous link .

Google Play Store apps appear online a couple of hours after submitting them.

  • Windows Phone

Send the Windows Phone app file (.xap). The EUROPA team will also provide details on what text and images for the app store have to be provided.

It appears online within 24 hours after being submitted.

 

Transferring an existing app to the corporate accounts

Apps can be transferred from another account to the Commission corporate accounts. All ratings and reviews will be kept.

However, please note the following:

  • Apple: the number of past downloads will be not be transferred.
  • Google Play: for any subsequent updates, the app can only be signed with the certificate used to sign previous versions. This means you will have to ask the original signee of the app to sign the update and then send it to us to upload. If this can't be done, then the app must be published as a new app.
  • Windows Phone: the number of past downloads will not be transferred and the developer name will only change the next time the app is updated.

Please contact the EUROPA team for more details.

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2.3.4. Quick fixes for better browsing

Even if your current website is in 'desktop' format only, it is still accessible on mobile devices. Happily, there are a number of things you can do to improve visitors' browsing experience without having to develop a responsive design website or app.

How to improve browsing experience on your desktop website

  • Give priority to the site's top tasks. See the Digital Transformation section for a description of the Top Tasks process.
  • Reduce and simplify content.
  • Apply the Writing for the Web techniques: the 'bite, snack, meal' structure, short paragraphs, concise texts and meaningful headings.
  • Avoid using Flash, especially to show content that is not available anywhere else on your site. Flash is not supported by most mobile web browsers.
  • Avoid using rollover or mouseover effects to display content, because these techniques are not available on touchscreen devices.
  • Indicate PDF and video links clearly (including file size), so that visitors realise before clicking that they will be downloading or streaming content.
  • Make sure any images you upload are optimised for the web. For example, large images are slow to download and might deplete your visitor's mobile data allowance.
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2.3.5. List of EU mobile websites and applications

Here is the current list of EU mobile websites and application.

EU mobile applications

To find the apps below, search for the name in your app store of choice.

 

  Directorate General Name Platforms

1

Mobility and Transport DG Your passenger rights at hand Android, Apple (iPhone and iPad), WP7

2

Employment European Health Insurance Card Android, Apple, WP7
3 Joint Research Centre Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (iGDACS) Apple
4 Enterprise and Industry Embrace space Android, Apple
5 Health and Consumers Vet Week Tag-O-metre game Apple
6 Research and Innovation

Innovation Union Lab

Apple
7 Research and Innovation

Stars of European Research

Apple (iPad only)
8 Communication

Spanish EU Representation

Android, Apple
9 Regional Policy

EU in Turkey

Apple
10 Joint Research Centre

GMOmethods

Apple (iPad only)
11 Communication

EU i Danmark

Android, Apple
12 European Commission

iCoach 

Android, Apple
13 Environment

Zoe Makes a Splash

Android, Apple
14 Enterprise and Industry

Galileo and EGNOS Satellites

Android, Apple, BlackBerry, Windows Phone
15 Enterprise and Industry

CE - E Robot Booth (Toy safety)

Android, Apple
16 Health and Consumers

FCB iCoach - Your Guide to Become an ex Smoker

Android, Apple
17 Employment

Eures - Your job in Europe

Apple
18 Communication

EU Newsroom

Apple
19
European Commission Representation in Ireland

TalktoEU

Android, Apple
20 Health and Consumers Drepturile Consumatorilor in UE Android, Apple
21
Joint Research Centre

Europe Media Monitor

Apple
22
Communication

Europe Time Machine

Apple
23
Communication

LinguaGo

Apple
24
Regional Policy

Open Days

Android, Apple
25

EU Economy

Android, Apple
26

Country Profiles

Android, Apple
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2.4. Information Architecture

Information architecture (IA) is the combination of organization, labelling, and navigation schemes on websites to assist people to achieve their information needs.

IA is the foundation of good website and design. It is about planning where information and services will be located on the website in the most convenient and logical way for users.

Effective IA helps users to meet their business needs.

Identifying business goals, target audience...

Before designing or redesigning a website, you have to consider the business goals of the website.

A good IA can address both business goals and user needs. User needs include both the activities users will want to undertake on the website and the information they want.

Different groups of users may have different needs or expectations of the website. Audience groups for a website may be farmers, students, researchers, citizens, business people, etc.

Consider listing what each user group may wish to achieve on the website - the information they may be looking for and the tasks they may like to undertake on the website.

A number of techniques can be used to assist in understanding users' needs. These include:

  • user surveys, focus groups
  • analysis of usage statistics
  • analysis of feedback

Consider what services, functionality or information can be provided on the website to meet identified needs and goals.

For each of the user needs identified, consider an example of how a user may meet these needs on the website and what activities they may undertake on the website. Where the need is to find information, the example may include a list of information the user requires. Where the need is to conduct an activity on the website (for example completing a form), the example may include the steps in the process that the user would undertake.

There are a number of different website structures which may be appropriate for different target groups and purposes.

Defining the content

Once the information needs of users and the required functions have been identified, you have to create a list of the content or content types that are needed on the website. Read more in the Content chapter.

Grouping and labelling the content

Once the content and services to be provided have been identified, they can be sorted into logical groups. Understanding the users' needs and identifying the content to meet their needs may provide some guidance regarding how to group the content.

It may also be useful to gain input from focus groups to help ensure that their needs are met.

A number of methods can be used to sort content. These include:

  • Card sorting

This involves writing each element of content or content type on a separate index card, sorting them into groups of related content and describing the groups. The results of the grouping can be analysed as another input to the IA of the website.

  • Written outlines 

Try to organize and number your content:

1 Category1
    1.1 SubCat1
    1.2 SubCat2
        1.2.1 SubSubCat1
        1.2.2 SubSubCat2
        1.2.3 SubSubCat3
    2 Category 2
        2.1 SubCat1
        2.2 SubCat2

For example for sorting "Books"

Arts
            Photography
            Sculpturing
Computers
            Software
            Hardware

  • Mind mapping

When you mind map, you start with a blank piece of paper and several coloured pens. Draw a small circle in the centre and label it "Home". Each time a new subject comes up, take one of the pens and draw a line out from the circle using a new color for each subject. Give each branch an appropriate name. When a topic relates to one of these main subject branches, draw a smaller branch out of main branch and label it accordingly. The colours help you visualize information that is related, plus any links you need to add from one branch to another.

Determine a logical content hierarchy

Websites structured around a logical hierarchy can make it easier to decide on a navigation system and to design page layouts. Consider the hierarchy that will be most appropriate for the information and services to be provided on the website and that meets the needs of users.

Hierarchies can be narrow and deep, or broad and shallow:

  • Narrow hierarchies

In these there are few main menu choices and many lower levels of the hierarchy. The disadvantage is that the choices may be not be specific enough, so users may need to click through a number of levels to find the information they require. The advantage is that front pages may be simpler and users less confused about the most appropriate menu choice.

  • Broad hierarchies

In these there are a large number of main menu choices but fewer lower levels of the hierarchy. The disadvantage is that, if there are many main menu choices, the page may be cluttered and choices too specific. The advantage is that the information required by users may be only a few 'clicks' away.

Other grouping methods

Not all parts of the website may be hierarchical. Other ways of grouping information include:

  • task-based: ask for a grant, to register
  • audience: individuals, businesses
  • alphabetical: A-Z index
  • chronological:  by date released, date updated …

These methods may be used to group a particular part of the website or as an addition to the main hierarchy.

Create labels to represent information on the website

Once the hierarchy has been developed, all parts of it can be assigned labels, which will eventually be used in navigation and links.

Labels that are accurate and informative are more easily understood by users. Labels based on language used by users and not language used by the Directorates-General (jargon and acronyms).

Map content to the IA

When the grouping and labelling have been developed, the content that will be included in the website can be fitted into the structure of the website.

Reviewing and implementing the IA

Before developing the actual website, it may be useful to review the proposed structure. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are the business goals of the website met by the structure?
  • Does the structure meet users' goals?
  • Do users understand the labels and language?
  • Is there a place for every piece of information?
  • Does content fit together logically?
  • Is the structure too wide - menus not specific enough?
  • Is the structure too narrow - menus too specific?
  • Does the structure easily allow for growth and change?

At this point it is very useful to test a prototype with a group of users. Do usability testing.

Monitoring and evaluation of the use of the website (statistics) can help judge whether they are meeting their outputs and outcomes, whether the structure is meeting the needs of users and how the structure can be improved.

A structure is never really finished. Changes will continue to take place. Keep the structure of the website and sitemap up to date.

Changes give you opportunity to do things even better.

Documents I need

  • Project Description and planning instruments (calendar and detailed work breakdown plan, resources allocation, including costs list (figures), etc.)
  • Site specifications
  • Existing content, if available
  • Site "storyboard" , diagrams (site maps, outlines, tables of contents)
  • Content plan/schedule: detailed description of site contents
    (hierarchical list of all content (texts, picture material) by page; for each element identify who is responsible for supplying the content; deadlines)
  • Prototype(s)
  • Schedule for site design and construction

Who can help

Work Guidelines and References

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2.5. Web usability

Web usability is an approach to make websites easy to use for an end-user, without requiring her (or him) to undergo any specialized training. The user should be able to intuitively relate the actions he needs to perform on the web page with other interactions he sees in the general domain of life, e.g. press of a button leads to some action. The broad goal of usability can be:

  • Present the information to the user in a clear and concise way.
  • Give the correct choices to the users in a very obvious way.
  • Remove any ambiguity regarding the consequences of an action, e.g. clicking on delete/remove/purchase.
  • Put the most important thing in the right place on a web page or a web application.

What to do

It is important to understand:

  • Why you are developing a site.
  • Who should come to your site.
  • When and why those people might come.

Usability aspects, therefore, should be in mind during the whole process of creating and producing a site:

At the definition phase:

  • during the concept definition and planning of a new site
  • during the content definition and structural organisation of a new site

At the development/production of a prototype phase:

  • during the final decision of the final look and the “feel” of the new site
  • during the production of content and the technical elements involved
  • during the (internal/external) testing of the new site

At the quality control phase:

  • during the site quality control/quality assurance (internal or external) testing phase

At the publishing/distribution phase:

  • during the official launch of the new site
  • during the publicising of the new site

At the maintenance/evaluation phase

  • during the editorial maintenance and updates of a site
  • during the technical maintenance and updates of a site

Checklist

When evaluating the usability of a site, ask these questions:

  • Can the user easily find the information he is looking for?
  • Are the services offered easy to access and are the features offered easy to understand?
  • Is the content of the site presented in a consistent manner?
  • Has the site a logical and comprehensive structure and efficient navigation?
  • Are explanations provided on how the site has been organised or how navigation works?
  • Is it possible for the user to interact with the site and provide feedback? Does he get a quick and satisfactory reply?
  • Are search features offered?
  • etc.

As for the methods of evaluating those criterias, the famous online survey which gathers the general user satisfaction rate about a website is not sufficient. There are a variety of approaches to usability evaluation that you may choose to take.

Inputs

 

Outputs

  • Project report
  • Project quality plan report
  • Project testing report
  • Project quality control report
  • Site evaluation report

Guidelines and references

  •  On 20 April 2004, the European Commission has published its Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on implementing the information and communication strategy for the European Unionpdf [298 KB] where one of the main objectives is “to use the Internet  to associate the public in European decision making and to listen to the public and their concerns in order to improve the perception of the EU and its institutions and their legitimacy”.
  • On 2 October 2002, the European Commission has published its Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on an information and communication Strategy for the European Unionpdf [149 KB] where it is stressed that “the EUROPA site remains an essential instrument  for bringing the institutions closer to ordinary people and facilitating  contact between Europeans and should be geared more to meeting information requirements of the general public, facilitating access to information sources directly linked to selected priority issues”.
  • On 25 July 2001, in its White Paper on European Governancepdf [179 KB], the European Commission acknowledged that genuine and coherent information and communications policy with the appropriate instruments to carry such policy were the main prerequisites for the development of better European governance.
  • On 6 July 2001, the European Commission has published its Communication by the President to the Commission in Agreement with Vice-President Neil Kinnock and Mr. Erkki Liikanen "Towards the e-Commission - EUROPA 2nd Generationpdf Choose translations of the previous link " [95 KB] where the roadmap is set for the implementation of 2nd generation  websites, reaffirming that EUROPA should offer “information services providing easy access for all to updated, user-friendly and multilingual information tailored to users’ needs”.
  • On 27 June 2001, the European Commission has published its Communication from the Commission to the Council, European Parliament  Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions on a new framework for cooperation  on an information and Communication strategy of the European Unionpdf [194 KB] where it is reaffirmed that “the main features of the new EUROPA sites should be interactivity, rapid and authentic consultations, research into support by public opinion and a simplified administrative practice for everyone”.
  • On December 1999, the eEurope - an Information Society for All initiative was launched by the European Commission to bring the benefits of the Information Society to all Europeans and to improve productivity and their quality of life by stimulating, among others, interactive public services, accessible to all and offered on multiple platforms.

External sources

Tools

The task of evaluating and improving the usability of websites can be daunting given the quantity of sites being produced, the frequency of updates, and the sheer size of many sites. As a result, some automated support for web designers and usability specialists will become an increasing necessity within the overall usability process. Automated usability tools can help save time and money in design and user testing improve consistency and quality of site design, and improve the systematic application of usability standards. Here are some examples of usability tools available in the market:

  • Web Link Validator , or W3C Link Checker , is a site management and link checker tools that help webmasters automate the process of web site testing: finds broken links (including those using JavaScript and Flash), orphaned files, slow-loading, deep, outdated and small-sized pages.
  • Web Static Analyzer Tool (WebSAT) - checks web pages HTML against typical usability guidelines.
  • Web Category Analysis Tool (WebCAT) - lets the usability engineer construct and conduct a web category analysis.
  • Web Variable Instrumenter Program (WebVIP) - instruments a website to capture a log of user interaction.
  • Framework for Logging Usability Data (FLUD) - a file format and parser for representation of user interaction logs.
  • FLUDViz Tool - produces a 2D visualization of a single user session.
  • VisVIP Tool - produces a 3D visualization of user navigation paths through a website.
  • TreeDec - adds navigation aids to the pages of a website.

Contact

For further information on usability issues, please contact the EUROPA team.

Workflow Details

  • Defining and planning a new site (i.e. type of site, possible definition and structure).
  • Content analysis, identification and organisation of information to be published (i.e. site content and functionality, content plan, tools and services for the site, WAI elements, metadata, etc.)
  • Defining the prototype.
  • Internal testing of the new site prior to the official launch.
  • External testing of the site prior to the official launch.
  • Regular and constant maintenance and evaluation in order to achieve optimal performance of the site.
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2.6. Web Accessibility

Mandatory requirementAs from January 2010, all new EUROPA websites have to be created in compliancy with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, level AA.

Advice on how to meet the standard is detailed in these pages.

 

View all IPG Rules

Web accessibility aims at enabling all users to have equal access to information and functionalities on the web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with all abilities and disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web.

According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that has been signed by the European Union, persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

Internet users can experience problems when using the web because of different kinds of disabilities, functional limitations, environmental factors or technology matters:

  • persons with disabilities: visual, auditory, physical, cognitive
  • older persons, low literacy, others
  • technology-related limitations or incompatibility: browsers, platforms, devices, mobile web
  • environmental factors: place, illumination, noise, slow connection

Persons with disability in Europe are a significant group:

  • 10% to 15% of the total population
  • 50 to 75 million people in EU27
  • There is a strong correlation between disability and ageing => numbers increase with demographic change.

Source: Labour Force Survey (European Commission-Eurostat, 2002)

Why Web Accessibility is important

The Web is an increasingly important resource in many aspects of life: education, employment, government, commerce, health care, recreation, access to information and more. It is essential that the Web is accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to persons with disabilities. An accessible Web can also help people with disabilities more actively participate in society.

The Commission is committed to make Websites as accessible as possible to the largest possible number of users including those with visual, auditory, cognitive or physical disabilities, and those not having the latest technologies. The Commission must take a lead in providing an example of good practice in Web accessibility and accomplish its legal obligations.

As a public service, EUROPA is addressed to all citizens of the European Union. It is important to ensure that it is accessible to all audiences and complies with the standards for accessible web design.

In addition to making information easier to access and thereby increasing the site’s potential customer/client base, benefits of Accessible Web design include:

  • Improved usability for all visitors. Consistent navigation makes it easier to find desired content quickly.
  • Clear navigation and clear content supports people with and "without" disabilities: older, low literacy levels, low bandwidth, etc.
  • Providing text equivalents (e.g., ALT attributes and captioning), table summaries, structured mark-ups and metadata improves search engine optimisation (SEO).

Use on EUROPA websites

  • In case of justified technical or practical reasons for not complying with WCAG 2.0, level AA guidelines, the exceptions should be explained in an accessibility page.
  • Existing sites could gradually be improved to conform with the new guidelines if resources are available.
  • EUROPA pages should be designed to work with a wide variety of browsers, devices, operating systems and monitor colour-depths and resolutions.
  • Websites should be developed according to the standards set down by the World Wide Web Consortium and be compliant with HTML 4.01 Transitional and Cascading Style Sheets CSS2.1.
  • When creating a new website:
    • During the content definition phase of the site and the creation of the prototype phase, the WCAG 2.0 AA must be taken into account.
    • During the life of the website, on each update, ensure that web accessibility rules are followed.
  • When updating existing content, ensure that as far as possible it conforms to the guidelines. If this is not possible, explain why in an accessibility page.
  • Websites that comply with 2.0, level AA guidelines, can insert the compliance logo

The Commission has adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, compliance level AA, as objective to attain for websites published on EUROPA from January 2010 on.

Until 2009, the standard followed for web accessibility of EUROPA websites has been the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG), level A (priority 1). Most websites that conform to WCAG 1.0 will not require significant changes in order to conform to WCAG 2.0, and some may not need any changes.

Some top level EUROPA sites already meet the terms of WCAG 2.0 AA level of compliance, and the European Commission continues to move forward achieving conformity for a great deal of its existing sites.

However, in spite of continuous efforts to monitor accessibility, full "level AA" compliance cannot be guaranteed at all times. In case of justified technical or practical reasons for not complying with these guidelines, the Commission will explain the exceptions in an accessibility page.

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2.7. Framework contracts

Commission services have concluded a number of framework contracts with external organisations for specific services regularly required. Before launching a procurement procedure, you should check whether a framework contract already in force could be used to make the purchases you need.

Services provided by DG COMM

DG Communication (DG COMM) offers a number of framework contracts and AMI list:

  • DG COMM multiple framework contract
  • DG COMM framework contracts for activities in the Communication fields
  • AMI list for specialised web services

DG COMM maintains also a list of all DGs' framework contracts in the Communication fields.

For further information, see DG COMM intranet for the framework contracts possibilities.

Services provided by DG DIGIT

The framework contracts from DIGIT can offer you the necessary expertise for constructing complex dynamic sites using ColdFusion or Weblogic.
The IRMs (Information Resources Managers) of each DG and their teams are the key contact people from DIGIT in this field. Contact them first if you want to make use of these contracts. For further information, please consult the Framework Contracts page of DIGIT on MyIntracomm. Public information about DIGIT's framework contracts is available on EUROPA.

Services provided by the Publications Office

The Publications Office (OP) know–how is available to anyone requiring help and advice with publications projects (electronic and paper). OP uses framework contracts to produce publications together with external contractors. Directorates-General and institutions can submit a request for a publication which will be produced in-house or with the help of an external contractor. OP advises on technical specifications, helps plan, prepare and manage projects and ensure quality of the finished product, and ensures conformity with the rules governing the use of framework contracts and house style guides. OP has a number of such contracts which can be used to carry out multimedia and print publications projects.

For further information, see PubliCare (services offered by the Publications Office) and the Publications Office internal site.

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2.8. Project Templates

The templates and examples presented on this page are a collection of documents which can be helpful in the process of creation and planning a successful website. The examples can be customised according to the specific project's needs.

  • Request form for the creation or revamp of a site DOCmsw8(186 kB)
    This form is required at the very start of the website creation or revamp planning process and must be submitted to DG COMM before publication or signature of any contract. 

  • Concept paper DOCmsw8(206 kB)PDFpdf(125 kB)
    Example of an integral concept paper, defining all aspects and requirements to create a website.

  • Timeline XLSexcel8book(86 kB) Choose translations of the previous link 
    Example of a website creation timeline. The first two parts "Roles, budget, schedule" and "Goals, scope, indicators" are fundamental and preliminary for all the rest - their outcome has an impact on the entire project. The timeline is based on the ideal hypothesis that all the necessary resources will be available at the right moment.

  • Wireframes DOCmsw8(193 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  PDFpdf(95 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  
    Examples of different page level design.

  • Methods to define the target audience DOCmsw8(47 kB) Choose translations of the previous link PDFpdf(20 kB) Choose translations of the previous link 
    Help to find what the main audience of your website will be, based on defining types of user and specific goals for each type of user. 

  • Example of the resources needed for the creation of a small site DOCmsw8(42 kB) Choose translations of the previous link PDFpdf(17 kB) Choose translations of the previous link 
    Example of how to estimate the resources needed for the creation of a small-scale website.

  • Content workflow management PDFpdf(22 kB)
    Comprehensive overview of the content management workflow and its associated approval procedures.

  • Standard templates
    The graphical foundations on which you must base your project. 

  • Quality Control check list
    Help to measure how well a website meets IPG requirements and best practices.

 

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3. Content

This section provides detailed information about different types of website content and instructions, recommendations and rules to be followed during the creation and maintenance of a website’s content and structure.

Description

The definition of a website’s content and how that content is structured, internally and externally, is a key element in determining the effectiveness and maintainability of the site. This section describes the elements of information architecture relevant to website content and structure as well as providing detailed and practical information on the activities required to be carried out in order to systematically produce an effective, useful and maintainable website.

Activities

  • Content identification
    • Inventory of all existing and related content
    • Definition of needs for new content requirements
    • Re-adaptation of existing content
  • Definition of site structure
  • Definition of website navigation
  • Definition of site technical architecture and making key design choices
  • Labelling of site elements
  • DGT.D.2 to give linguistic advice/editing services in advance of translation (web style + clarity of original text)
  • Proofreading the content
  • Validate and approve the content and send for translation
  • Translate the content into required languages
  • Naming (labelling of site elements)
  • If necessary, select key parts of the site and build prototypes, review results
  • Definition of metadata and WAI elements, etc.
  • Database design (type of encoding, type of data, language, blocked or classified fields, etc.)

Quality Assurance/ Evaluation criteria

Inputs

  • Existing content
  • Staff assigned to project (tasks descriptions, profiles)
  • Project description and planning instruments (calendar and detailed work breakdown plan, resources allocation, including costs list (figures), etc.)
  • Site specifications
  • Site production checklist
  • Promotion and communication plan

Outputs

  • Detailed site design specifications
  • Specifications of user platform (browser environment, connection speed required, etc.)
  • Specifications of web server resources needed
  • Programming proposals based on functional needs of the future site
  • Site "storyboard", diagrams (site maps, thumbnails, outlines, tables of contents)
  • Content plan/schedule: detailed description of site contents
    (hierarchical list of all content (texts, picture material) by page; for each element, identify who is responsible for supplying the content; deadlines)
  • Prototype(s)
  • Schedule for site design and construction
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3.1. Types of content

The purpose of this section is to present some examples of typical and important kinds of content suitable for publication on the Web. Many of us are faced with the obligation of publishing unsuitable texts for the Web on a daily basis and in formats that are not user-friendly. Remember: if you have to publish a text in a format or of content that is traditionally not suitable for the Web, at least try to introduce it with text that is.

Description

  • Background material for the general public: explaining what the European Union is, its achievements, what it does and how its policies affect citizens is text that many institutions, DGs and services produce. Written in a journalistic style, and with no jargon, this text must also be short.
  • Summaries of key documents: all key documents should be introduced by a short summary, understandable by most citizens.
  • News: news items are not press releases. Press releases are destined for journalists who will then write their own news. If you want to include news in your sites, make sure you are able to produce short, easy-to-understand pieces of no more than around 400 words.
  • Short texts: short texts (maximum 100 words) for introductory content, slogans, banners, promotional buttons, hyperlinks, hyperlink descriptions, metadata, labels for website elements (such as the navigation), promotional texts, press conference backdrops.
  • Press releases: these are written by the spokespeople service and are destined for journalists. Directly linking to the Rapid database from news sections is not advised. Press releases should be linked to from "Press corners" or website areas dedicated to the Press.

If you want to include any other types of content in your website and it is not described in this section, it means that it most certainly needs to be introduced by one type that is describe in this section.

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3.2. Content definition

The central theme of your site must be explored from all angles, above and beyond the Commission or the DG's structure, if it is to provide added value for the user. In relation to your target audience and the complexity of content, the thematic approach and paradigm of navigation will have to be defined.

The role of the site vis-à-vis the policy or activity in question should be decided. And the architecture as well as a map of the site should be drawn. Once available, the thematic site map should be submitted to the Editorial Committee of EUROPA and the Ceiii, if its character is interinstitutional, so as to make sure that the project does not overlap with other sites in preparation and that all relevant DGs are involved.

More links on organisational aspects in the Planning chapter.

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3.2.1. Editorial style and policy

An editorial policy is indispensable for your site. It should provide authors and editors with guidance on how to handle the content of the site on the basis of its objective and mission and of the demands of its target audience.

On the basis of this policy, guidelines on editorial style and content authorisation procedures can be drawn up and distributed to everyone who is adding content to the site. This will guarantee a coherent presentation of information within the site. Editorial style will also have to be individually adapted to the target audience and to the degree of specialisation of each level of the site.

Write for your readers! Writing for the Web differs from writing for printed publications and content cannot simply be transferred from paper to net without being adjusted. Texts should be short and concise and navigation to related text obvious and quick.

In summary, the editorial policy must provide the online providers/editors with guidance on:

  • the objective of the site
  • the target audiences and main communication messages to convey
  • the article and style policy
  • the thematic/organisational structure and content aggregation approach and levels
  • the rules and procedures regarding the provision, approval, and use of content
  • the users’ feedback collection, management and analysis

For more information on writing for the Web, please check the following sources:

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3.2.2. Populating the site

1. Inventory of existing content

The aim of this step is to establish a complete inventory of all the generic sites, pages, documents, services on EUROPA and other sites (Member States government sites, government sites outside of European Union, etc.) relative to the theme in question. This inventory could be done by the content providers (authors) and it has to be approved by the site’s Editorial Board.

Inventory methods:

Manual Method

Manual method based on the knowledge of different experts in order to identify the information regarding the theme.

  • Identify and interview experts, information officers and webmasters of the concerned DGs, task managers of EUROPA at the DG COMM and copywriters.

Automatic Method

  • Search in the Thesaurus EUROVOC of all the terms related to the theme of the site in question
  • Use of these terms as a search criteria for metadata (title, classification, keywords and description)
  • Use of these terms as search criteria for a search on EUROPA

2. Analysis of the existing content

Existing content must be carefully considered and possibly revised before it can be recycled onto your site. Since existing content will probably be dispersed over different sites, decisions will have to be made as to the level of integration of that content into the site (i.e. whether to host it directly on the site or make it accessible via a link).

Whenever content is integrated via a link, consider if a new introductory text is needed. If the target site is well structured and has been constructed using the CWCM, you may be able to reuse some of its content for providing this introductory text. Please keep in mind that several layers of navigational pages between the home page and the content might be frustrating to the users.

Much of the time, content only refers to text. But images, graphics, tables, audio and video are also types of content. These different content types should work together to fulfil a single content requirement.

3. Creation of a new content

Whether it is to introduce and explain a series of links or to fill the content gaps that may emerge from the inventory of existing content, your site is most likely to need new content. Editing new texts is one of the most delicate stages of the site creation. Not only must the texts respect the rules for web writing and be fine-tuned to the specific target audience, but they also must be approved by all the relevant DGs and services.

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3.2.3. Navigation Paradigm

The navigation paradigm can be described as the imminent logic of your site. It should aim at presenting information in a way that is intuitively comprehensible for the user/reader. This is not an easy task in the creation of a multilingual and multicultural site.

You can start by creating a graphic presenting the structure of the site (usually a hierarchy) and use it to discuss the site navigation structure with the team. Try to imagine how to make the site more usable maybe by providing search boxes, context-sensitive help, breadcrumbs, indexes, site maps, navigation bars and structured menus.

How users will navigate around the site and discover the content they are looking for? You can for example choose a topical structure of your content or a structure with respect to life events. A topical structure for a service sites such as an eGovernment would for instance have the sections: employment, residency, taxation, etc. A structure following life events would have sections, such as ‘finding a job’, ‘building a house’, ‘the tax return exercise’, etc., i.e. all information necessary for an administrative event in your life to happen. The so-called matrix structure is useful for enabling users with different needs to navigate through the same content. For some example, some users would like to look for a document by its topic, its year of publication, its author, etc. As to the hierarchical structure (also so-called tree structure), the information gets more and more detailed level after level.

Try to understand the users of your site, the way they work and the way they think. Remember that the navigation scheme should not be too realistic either. In fact, sometimes this approach only confuses users instead of helping them. It is more important that the navigation is consistent throughout the site.

Remember that you will see the “global, top view”, but the people navigating your product will probably not. Even if you provide people with a map, they rather spend most of their time attending to the content of the site, not to the map. So while making your site map, try to represent the complex structure as clearly as possible. Always provide a single page that gives a visual and textual representation or overview of the entire site and which allows users to navigate directly from this representation.

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3.3. Multilingualism

The European Union has 24 official languages. All legislative and informative EU documents are translated into these languages – guaranteeing that all citizens can understand the laws which apply to them, be well informed and take part in public debates.

The importance of language coverage on the Commission's Europa website has increased since the Lisbon Treaty more explicitly defined the roles of external actors in EU policy.

There is, however, no legal framework governing the language coverage of the EU's digital presence, nor is there any legal obligation to translate web content, except when a legal act stipulates that a specific site must be available in all EU languages.

Our aim is to provide Europa visitors with web content either in their own language or in a language they can understand – as determined by their real needs.

Providing multilingual web content

  • The language issue is one of the first aspects to be tackled when new content is created. Define the language of the web content according to target audience, type of content and available resources.
  • Notify DGT at the earliest opportunity – especially regarding volume and number of languages. Include DGT in the drafting process from the start, in particular by providing sample texts for comment and linguistic advice.
  • Send content for translation (relevant deadlines and possible delays to be taken into account in the overall planning). For information on how to request translations (available resources, procedures, etc.), see the “Tools” section below.

In addition to the above, if you are creating a NEW website:

  • Define the language policy for the management of functional mailboxes (i.e. how to handle incoming messages in any language, translation of both messages and replies, multilingual collection of standard replies, etc.)
  • Define navigation policy for languages (including splash page, if any).
  • Describe the language choice in the “About this site” section, with a reference to the general language‑coverage page.
  • In the design phase, keep in mind that adjustments might be necessary, depending on the language.
  • Follow language-related IPG recommendations on URLs, file naming policy, site names, procedure for requesting a URL, etc.
  • When choosing the templates for your site, keep in mind all the relevant multilingual elements: keywords, metadata, characters ALT, WAI, etc.
  • When planning the promotion of the site, define all language aspects related to both the site itself and the promotional tools.

Work Guidelines and references

Tools

DGT is able to help you translate your documents in 24 languages. However, not all texts can be treated on an equal basis. Different priorities and solutions are on offer according to the documents’ importance and nature. DGT offers a variety of linguistic treatments and language tools which can be found on its site.

Contacts

Further information on multilingualism issues can be requested by email to the EUROPA team.

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3.3.1. Language coverage

When web content is created, the language issue is one of the first aspects to be tackled. This is a guide to the preparatory work that needs to be done to decide which languages to provide.

The Commission's web sites are an interface with the general public. Therefore non-discrimination is a primary factor when deciding on language coverage.

The Lisbon Treaty strengthened the provisions on the public's right to participate in the policy-making process. There is also a wish to bring the EU closer to the citizens. The language coverage should be decided with these aspects in mind, and in the understanding that restriction makes the Commission vulnerable to criticism.

If the content concerns EU citizens' rights or obligations it should be provided in all official languages. Investigate also whether there are legal or political requirements to publish your content in all languages.

In other cases, the final choice of languages may vary according to the nature of the information and the target audience, as well as depending on the availability of resources.

Checklist for deciding on language coverage

The language coverage on the web should be evidence-based and coherent. To achieve these important objectives:

  • Check if similar content has already been translated. If so, consider collaboration and/or linking to it. From a user perspective, we should avoid duplication and offer one entry point.
  • Define the organisational goals of your web content as well as your target audience. Setting goals help you measure whether or not you have an efficient website.
  • Decide who ensures the content is fit for the web and ready for translation (must be native speaker or equivalent, and trained in writing for the web).

General vs. specialised content

The following can be identified as general content to be published in all official languages:

  • content created in response to a legal obligation
  • online public consultations, when the general public is the target audience
  • access to funding
  • any stable content with a wider audience

You may publish all language versions at the same time or first the original language and any other language version at your disposal. If you plan to have it translated, a notification should make that clear.

Specialised content, targeted at a limited audience or experts, may be provided in a few languages or even just one, depending on the users' needs.

The following can be identified as specialised information:

  • technical information
  • funding for research
  • speeches
  • campaigns, fora, blogs

For web sites with a more limited or specialised audience, make sure you understand the users:

  • their profile (profession, age, etc.)
  • their usual working languages
  • where they come from
  • if some of them might be excluded due to language barriers, etc.

Make sure they can find all information they look for in the same navigation language from start to end.

News and news-related information

Information that is urgent and short-lived, such as news items, sometimes has to be made available very quickly. In such cases an option is to publish the text first in one language only (taking the target audience and users' needs into account) and add other languages later, in one or more steps, provided it is still meaningful for the target audience.

Proofreading

Ideally, the texts should be proofread in every language one final time before going live. DGT can help you with this.

Follow up

Once your content is online, follow up and analyse the visits to verify whether the choice you made was the right one.

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3.3.2. Writing with translation in mind

Writing for different language communities

Brief the translators on the target audience.

Please let the translators know what audience you are running the website for so that they can adapt the translation style accordingly. Some languages make distinctions between younger/older, general/specialist ... audiences.

Write neutral text which needs minimum localisation.

Information specific to one language or country often needs localisation, i.e. customisation for the specific language community concerned. Translators will have to adapt this kind of information for the language community they are addressing. For convenience, avoid local references where possible, especially if you are not intending to put your text onto your site in every official language.    

If you need to localise, please always notify translators in advance which parts of your content have been localised.

How to proceed? Two possibilities:

  • Once you have finalised your original text and created a file for each language (see also below), insert the words you want directly in the relevant place in the corresponding language version.
    Or
  • If your text includes a list of several examples (e.g. of projects in different Member States), give priority to the information of interest to a particular target language community by putting it first in the list in the relevant language version.

If you just need to replace a language or country name with that of the target audience, you can ask the translator to do it for you.

Write addresses in their original language where possible and not in the language of your document. The same applies to proper names. It is rather difficult and time-consuming for a translator to find out the original name of a company, an organisation or a brand. The best approach is to give both, a description combined with the proper name.

Describe link contents rather than giving proper website names only. Remember that what is common sense in one language area can be completely unknown in another. Example: "Bundestag" could read "German Parliament (Bundestag)" or Bundestag (German Parliament).

Keep it short and simple. Remember that each page may be translated into over twenty-three languages, which will multiply any shortcomings (errors, excessive amounts of text, etc.) by the same factor. See the IPG recommendations on web writing or any of these style guides). 

Dos and Don'ts

Do...

  • Contact the Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) as early as possible so that when planning your project you can take account of the period required for translation.
  • When you send your content for translation, try to also send all navigation elements, links, etc. at the same time, as these are difficult to translate later out of context.
  • Provide the DGT with as many references as possible (documents and/or URLs) to help translators to understand the text and improve text quality.
  • When making a  Poetry request , specify clearly where the text is to be posted, i.e. give the full URL ( http://europa.eu/...)
  • Give the DGT maximum instructions on text formatting, taking over any underlined text, adapting URLs, and page layout. This will greatly help to get the text properly formatted.
  • Rework the translation documents (ex: to ensure the translation coherence with the pages already online).
  • Be consistent on your site (terms/expressions used, etc.)

Don’t...

  • Mix languages on one page except in very specific cases, i.e. when the home page is also used to announce daily news on the site or news connected with the domain covered by the site.

 

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3.3.3. Webmasters - Formatting pages for translation

When you are creating a website, the idea of it being translated into several other languages may not be uppermost in your mind, or there may be reasons why you prefer to keep it in the original language only. However, if you do plan to present your information in several languages, you should take the language-related aspects into account right from the drafting stage. This will save you a lot of time when you have to maintain the site after translation, and it will help the translators to provide you with the highest standard of product.

Here are some tips on setting-up a multilingual website and working with the translators which the DGT's webmasters have compiled for you.

Creating a multilingual website

  1. Leave some room on your screen.
    If possible, try to avoid filling your screen up to the last centimetre with information. Since translations (especially from English into another language) can be longer than the original, the presentation might not look as nice as your original or, in the worst case, might become a mess.
  2. Use the "include" function of FrontPage for repetitive text
    It helps to keep maintenance low and consistency high. The files included could be named with an i_ at the beginning so that the translator knows that the text concerned is to be inserted into several documents. If and when you need to modify it, only the "include" file will have to be updated and sent again for translation, i.e. it will take you and the translator much less time and effort.
  3. Wherever possible use styles and avoid hard encoded formatting information.
    This not only keeps your file size down but makes it much easier for the translator to concentrate on the text without having to bother with its formatting. With the tools we have, we cannot add, remove or move tags easily within the text.
  4. Prefer plain text to images.
    We know that text images are very popular amongst webmasters, but keep in mind that the DGT cannot handle them. If you use images with text, create one for each language and use the very same text as "alt" description so that you can copy paste it into the image afterwards. And another tip: be generous with the image size, since more space might be needed for the target language.
  5. Use relative table, cell, box sizes.
    Text length in other languages will vary and nothing is more frustrating for the reader than having just half of the text visible on screen or overwritten by other text. So whenever possible, try to avoid absolute sizes. This also applies, of course, to JavaScript menus.

Preparing your website for translation

  1. Create text images for each language version. Even if you don't yet have the translation, it is good practice to create an image file with the correct extension from the outset (_da.gif, _de.gif). See also "prefer plain text to images" and the previous tip.
  2. Put alphabetical lists into the correct order for each language after translation. Translators have no way of modifying the order in which the information is presented. So don't forget to do it after translation.

  3. If you send your page for translation via the CWCMS translation module, translations will be automatically imported into CWCMS and you'll only need to adapt link information of those translations.

  4. If you are sending your translation request manually via Poetry, you receive your translations via e-mail. When making a Poetry request , specify clearly where the text is to be posted, i.e. give the full URL ( http://europa.eu/...).

  5. Be aware that currently, translators are instructed not to modify link information, therefore the links of delivered translations are based on the original version you sent for translation and need to be adapted after translation.

Links policy : Language icons and links

Particular attention should be paid when linking to a page with content in a different language. The relevant language icon should be inserted in order to ensure better usability and smooth access to information.

Language selection tool

It must be present on all pages. The language selection tool provides the only means of horizontal navigation between languages. It also provides an indication of which language versions exist.

Multilingual templates

The translations in the templates are official and mandatory.

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3.3.4. Multilingual index page (splash page)

On EUROPA, the main aspect and purpose of any splash page will always be the choice of language - and the number of languages offered will probably influence the user’s first impression.

A This link points to an intranet and may not work if you are browsing as an external user.  study on multilingual splash pagespdf [1.15MB](ordered by the Publications Office) contains a number of recommendations and standards, while some examples of multilingual splash pages can be found at:

http://europa.eu/

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/

http://www.cor.europa.eu/

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3.4. Writing for the Web

Quick overview? See below the checklist for writing a web page.

  • Who is the audience and is the content relevant/interesting to them?
  • Does the page have just one (main) subject – and what is it?
  • Is the key information in the most prominent position (usually the top of the page)?
  • Does the page have an intro paragraph summarising the page’s key idea (answering the basic questions: who, what, where, why, how, when)?
  • Does the page contain only essential content?
  • Is background info linked to rather than being quoted in full on the page? (Don't duplicate content already available on EUROPA/the Web)?
  • Are all the concepts expressed as much as possible from the perspective of the reader, not the EU?
  • Are plentiful, meaningful (sub)headings used (to show how the different text chunks relate to each other)?
  • Is bolding used to highlight key ideas in each paragraph? (max. 2 items per paragraph)
  • Are paragraphs short? (max. 2-3 lines - even 1 sentence is fine).
  • Does each paragraph have just 1 main idea?
  • 3 or more items listed in running text should be a bulleted list or table.
  • If the page is long, does it have internal navigation links at the top?

People are much more likely to find your pages through search engines if the following are short, meaningful, and include keywords (at the beginning):

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3.4.1. Basic principles of web writing

When writing web content, there are 3 basic principles to keep in mind:

  1. User task (provide relevant content for a specific audience)
  2. Clear phrasing
  3. Keep it as short as possible

1. User task

Before writing anything, answer these questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What do they want to do on your web page?

For every passage you write, think:

I am writing this so that [my target audience] can do [task X, Y, Z, etc.].

You will have business goals in writing your text, but these must map onto some feasible need or interest of your target audience. You text should be useful and usable – not simply information in a void. What do you want your audience to do, having read your text?

How to write useful web text

  • Try to imagine which questions users would have in their mind on coming to your page (prompt yourself with the typical question words: who, why, what, how, when, etc.)
  • List these questions – in the order your users need the information
  • This can be the outline for your page structure. Each question could be a separate subheading, and the solution you are offering would be the text in that section
  • Don't leave users hanging when there is a next step – give them an option to find more information, make an enquiry – whatever helps them on their way.

And how not to do it…

  • simply include all the facts and information you have on this topic
  • try to reach everyone with the same content
  • use existing print texts (without at least reformatting)

2. Clear phrasing

Web texts are very different to print documents – and users expect content to be presented and written differently.

Generally the style is more informal and conversational than the legal/administrative style we are used to from much of our everyday working texts.

More on clear phrasing.

We cannot assume the public know as much about EU concepts (and terminology) as EU officials do. So texts for the public need to use words ordinary people understand.

P erspective

It is important to phrase concepts from your reader’s perspective.

Examples

  • Free circulation of labour” is a familiar concept to economists and policymakers. But individual workers/jobseekers would be more likely to see this in terms like “freedom to live and work abroad in Europe”.
  • Similarly, institutions buying in goods/services know this process as public procurement – companies potentially providing those goods/services are more likely to be looking for public contracts.

Obviously we need to use technical terms (jargon) used in the field of expertise concerned. But there are many other words around these that we can change, to give a text a simple, conversational style overall.

Studies have shown that this works best, even for experts – there is no need to reproduce an academic or formal style, for notional reasons of credibility.

Especially since many experts will be reading in a language that is not their own.

And while subject experts know their own field-specific technical terms, they are not guaranteed to be familiar with the extra layer of jargon, unique to Brussels:

 

WHY is clear phrasing important?

It's not just a question of style:

  • Web users are busy and need to understand quickly
  • To be found, web pages need to use the words our target readers are likely to enter into search engines (the way most web users find web pages).
  • Professional image – text on the web has a high profile.
  • Up to 20% of people have problems reading generally (older people, visually impaired, those with learning disabilities, the “functionally illiterate”) and will otherwise find pages inaccessible.

Clear and simple language” is a WAI requirement. The Commission has committed itself to these internationally-recognised standards in COM(2001) 529 pdf.

3. As short as possible

  • The substance – write only about what the reader really needs to know - and nothing more.
  • The words – in every sentence, use only the words you need to convey this key message.

Avoid the easy, running style we use for print documents – instead aim for spare and functional prose that makes every word count.

More on keeping it short.

WHY keep it short?

  • Information overload – readers are in a hurry, looking for something specific (not reading for pleasure).
  • Ever-more people are viewing web pages on mobile devices, with much smaller screens than desktop computers.
  • Easier & quicker translation.
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3.4.2. Keep visitors coming back

How you can keep your site fresh and attractive and encourage readers to visit regularly.

Homepage essentials

On the home page, tell visitors who you are, show them how you've organised your site, tell them about updates and give them a way to interact (sign up for a newsletter or other notification service).

Add links

Add links to related content – on either your site or sites of other organisations.

Try to guide readers to information they might want/need by asking: what else might they want to know? More background on the subject? More about us (link to our site's "About Us" page)? Other questions?

High-quality content

Commission sites are mainly content (text) based. Images, audio and video files can make them better looking, but for a legislative/policy-making organisation, content quality and presentation are all-important.

  • Focus your information - present content in a way that appeals to the audience you consider most important/relevant to your site and policy area - usually there is no "one size fits all" solution!
  • Organise your content based on the subjects involved, not the administrative structure of your institution (e.g. by units, directorates, etc.)
  • Quality control - check the quality of all documents thoroughly before putting them online. Badly written or translated documents will sabotage your attempts to attract and keep a high readership for your site.

Whatever you do, do NOT publish low-quality texts just for the sake of “having something on our site”.

Fresh content

Ways to keep your content fresh for readers:

  • Feature a column - updated daily, and with interesting content: this gives casual visitors a reason to visit again.
  • Regularly introduce new subtopics within your main topic - so users can be constantly re-engaged.
  • Respond quickly to user feedback and take it seriously.
  • Use email alerts or e-magazines to tell subscribers what's new. But don't send too much, this is counterproductive. And always reassure users that you are not passing on any personal data or details to third parties.
  • Tidy housekeeping - update regularly.

 

Regular updates

Users want up-to-the minute information, so update regularly and thoroughly - delete or archive old material, correct dead links and check your content to make sure it reflects changes and new events.

Maintaining a website properly takes time. So when you plan your site, keep in mind that a relatively small site with up-to-date content is much better than many long and outdated pages.

You will also need procedures for senior management to quickly - but thoroughly - check and approve material to be published.

Depending on the type of site, you might need to look at it every hour, day, week or month. The absolute minimum should be a twice a year.

So apart from the initial cost (man hours/outside resources, etc.) of creating your site, allow for regular additional costs/resources for its upkeep. It will depend on the type of site and information presented, subject area, political importance, etc.

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3.4.3. Structure and layout

In print, a document forms a whole and the user is focused on the entire set of information. On the Web, you need to split documents into multiple hyperlinked pages as users want to jump to the specific content they are interested in.

Use hypertext links to move less important – or more detailed - material from top-level pages to secondary pages, thus making the primary pages even shorter.

Readers are more likely to read the main pages of your site than the whole site, so that is where you should present the basic information.

Organise your text so the hierarchy is no deeper than 3 levels.

Users can enter a site at any page and move between pages as they choose, so make every page independent. Explain its topic without assumptions about what page(s) the user has already seen.

Websites have the flexibility to provide content in a variety of sizes and to let visitors choose the amount of information that will satisfy them: a bite, snack or meal.

Bite - a heading with a message, written attractively so as to entice readers to the fuller text (the meal).

Snack - a concise summary (2 or 3 sentences), underneath the heading – more information than a bite but not the full meal.

Meal - the detailed content. This can be presented either on the same page as the heading and summary or linked to on another page

Visual impact

Unlike printed pages, the success of a site greatly depends on visual presentation.

While graphic design (use of colours, images, etc.) is an important factor, how you write text content (layout, style) has a big impact. Screens filled with large blocks of dense text or using inaccessible, incorrect or clumsy language, especially in prominent positions (headings, etc.) create a very bad impression on the Web.

Uncluttered screens with plenty of white space are most restful to the eye and visually more attractive. And they are more likely to convey your key information effectively by not drowning it in a sea of detail – so make your content short and concise.

Also try to vary paragraph lengths, so readers can tell them apart and thus find their way as the page scrolls down.

Readers rarely see a whole page together and different browsers can display different proportions of it. It is not easy to control the visual appearance of a text. First test the technology, to see what it can deliver to the user, and then adjust the writing accordingly.

Give prominence to key information

Print documents build logically from premise to conclusions. Web pages, however, should start with the most important information for readers. The remaining information should follow in descending order of importance.

  • Ensure that a page’s top heading and text is used to convey this key information – in words that are clear and meaningful (and if possible also attention-grabbing).
  • Don’t waste this vital space with less‑important information (welcome messages, background details, etc.). Such content (if it needs to exist at all) should be put at the bottom or linked to on another page.

WHY?

Around 50% of all web readers don’t bother to even scroll down once - you have to catch their attention and convey your message in the first words they read, at the top of the page.

More people are viewing web pages on small screens (e.g. mobile phones, other handheld devices). So there is even more need to squeeze in your key message as succinctly and early as possible.

Which parts of the page do readers look at most?

Studies have shown that readers’ eyes usually rest first in the upper left of the page, then move slowly to the right. Only after scanning the top of the page for some time do their eyes explore further down.

The graphic below shows the zones of importance. While each site is different, you might look at your own website and see what content you have in which zones.

Eyetrack results

Source: The best of Eyetrack III - what we saw when we looked through their eyes, by Steve Outing and Laura Ruel

How people read web pages

People do not read web pages word by word. Instead, they scan them, running their eyes down a screen to pick out individual words and sentences, looking for material relevant to their needs.

Search engines read text similarly, algorithmically scanning for those words that describe the page's subject better than others. So they give more weight to words that are differentiated from the main text, e.g. bolded or in bulleted lists.

Break up text as much as possible to help your readers (and search engines) scan:

  • Write small paragraphs (containing just one idea).
  • Use several information areas, e.g. insert text in shaded boxes within text or alongside it.
  • Insert plenty of meaningful  sub-headings (short and eye catching).
  • Bulleted lists or tables (instead of long descriptive lists in text form).
    Bold the key word(s) of each bullet, then separate the following supporting information with a dash (more visible onscreen than a colon).
  • Highlight key words (link text, bold/italic or different colours).
  • Add meaningful picture captions.

How to highlight

  • Highlight only key information-carrying words (or actual keyword phrases).
  • Highlight about three times as many words as you would when writing for print.
  • Highlight words that differentiate your page from other pages and words indicating what a given paragraph is about.

Using tables (more visual and much less text)

Wrong approach    Text version (84 words)

On 1 January 2006, three contribution classes were introduced for statutory accident and sickness insurance with different contribution levels for employers. Employers in the first contribution class for statutory accident and sickness insurance have to pay a contribution of 31.7%. Employers in the second contribution class have to pay a contribution of 31.11%. Employers who do not fall within the first or second contribution class belong to the third class for accident and sickness insurance and are required to pay a contribution of 30.98%.

Correct approach    Table version (30 words)

On 1 January 2006, three contribution classes were introduced for statutory accident and sickness insurance, with different contribution levels for employers. 

Class

Employer contribution

1

31.7%

2

31.11%

3

30.98%

Typographic practices to avoid

  • Italic typefaces - for long passages of text (they are slower to read online).
  • Underlining - if the term is not a link.
  • Different character fonts on the same page.

Keep it consistent

Create a consistent look and feel, integrating images and text (see Design chapter).

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3.4.4. Headings

Headings help people:

  • find your page via search engines (especially the top heading, H1)
  • navigate  around your page once they arrive

Make the top heading on the page an H1, with subheadings H2 and lower. If you do not use these formats for your headings, they will not be recognised by search engines.

For search engines, H1 headings are the single most important piece of on-page text. Lower-level headings - H2, H3, etc. - also influence search engines.

Because readers scan webpages rather than reading every word, headings are important signposts to help them find their way around a page. Headings are read 5 times more than body text.

Web texts should therefore have many more headings than print documents – even one heading for every paragraph may not be too much.

Headings should:

  • Be short (max. 60 characters with spaces, or ±8 words in English). Use a telegraphic headline style without filler words like the, and, of.
  • Use the same main descriptive words as in your <title> tag .
    Readers clicking on your <title> tag in a search results page will then be easily able to see that the page they land on is the correct one.
  • Use concrete readers’ words (i.e. for non-specialists, avoid jargon and abstractions).
  • Express issues from the readers' perspective.
  • Lead with the key idea, not the EU's perspective or lesser details (dates, etc.)
  • Meaningfully describe the content in that section and its relationship to other sections.
  • Be interesting to attract the attention of scanning readers,
    e.g. use an informal style and express action through strong verbs rather than nouns.

Examples                                                               

Wrong approach 

Correct approach

The Commission’s existing framework

(in a page on ethics in the Commission)

Ethics at the Commission

(includes specific subject words)

Procedures

(in a page on press accreditation)

How accreditation is granted

(expresses a meaningful task for readers)

Your Internet - Your choice

(too much slogan and general)

PC users free to choose web browsers

(uses concrete subject words so readers will instantly understand)

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3.4.5. Menus and links - helping users navigate

Web readers need help finding their way around a site. This is the job of menus and links. Linking is the quickest way to get the user to the most relevant information.

Think carefully about the likely visitors to your site and how you can organise and write each menu item to make navigation as easy as possible for them.

Make menus specific and meaningful

Like tables of contents, menus should give the contents of your site a meaningful structure. Write menus to reflect this structure. Help visitors understand this by using hierarchies and organising your content in the simplest and most logical order – especially since you never know the order in which it will be read by the user.

Write individual menus so that:

  • One bounces off another, illuminating both.
  • Readers can see why certain menus are grouped together.
  • Readers sense a certain sequence from the top menu to the last.
  • Readers quickly get a sense of what the section is about, along with hints as to where they can find the information they want.
  • They are clear – not cryptic or ambiguous, as they could be misunderstood.

Group and sequence menu items

When objects are in groups, people remember them more accurately. Grouping helps people understand how your menu is organised, find what they want more easily and recall the organisation of your site more accurately later.

One way to group items is to create a range from the familiar to the unfamiliar, from general to specific and from most commonly used to least.

Use hierarchies

Grouping headings into menus and submenus creates a hierarchy. In general, a good hierarchy helps people store and remember incoming information, because people organise the information in their long-term memories in hierarchies.

Group information items at various levels and provide clues in your writing as to why you organised the items in this way.

To avoid confusing readers with too many pages at different levels, try to ensure your hierarchy is no deeper than four levels.

Offer multiple routes to the same information

To help visitors follow their own trail, offer them multiple menus leading to the same low-level items. People usually come to your site with different purposes, tasks and mindsets - you can support them by putting the same heading in more than one menu. Such menus can also offer different perspectives on your content.

Writing good link labels

Nobody will be entering these terms in a search or skim-reading a page for them.

Wrong approach  Correct approach

For information on EU fisheries policy, click here

Information on EU fisheries policy

EU fisheries policy - More More on EU fisheries policy

Unless you're promoting a particular site address, standard practice is to write a meaningful, descriptive label for your links.

Wrong approach  Correct approach

For more information, see the EU tax and customs home page: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/index_en.htm  

For more information, go to the EU tax and customs site
Use meaningful words

Link labels should be a specific indication of the content the reader will find by clicking (don't mislead and waste their time). And search engines look especially for keywords in links.    

Multilingualism – education sector
Abstract / jargon words

Language courses/schools
Concrete words that potential students are likely to recognise instantly / search with.
Commission communication on customs and trade COM(2003) 452
"COM(2003) 452" is a keyword only a tiny number of experts might know.
Commission communication on customs and trade - COM(2003) 452
Including the subject keywords "customs and trade" gives your link much broader meaning.

 

Don't slavishly mirror the heading on the underlying page. If this is unsuitable for use as a link label (too long, unclear, etc.), it's okay to rephrase it in your link label.

Wrong approach (heading on page linked to) Correct approach (link label pointing to it)

Detailed explanation of the different types of public works contract

 

Public works contract types
Link contains enough words from the underlying heading for readers to make the connection when they land on that page.

European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument
 
Programmes in EU's southern/eastern neighbours
Explains underlying content better for non-experts - "EU neighbourhood" concept not widely known.

Link labels must make sense if used out of context, e.g. in other locations, on outside websites, etc.

Wrong approach Correct approach

Energy saving  (too general) 
a link to a video of individual energy-saving projects in European towns

EU energy-saving projects  
Specifies more where the energy saving is and in what form

Wrong approach Correct approach

Overview of the EU’s relations with Iceland

EU-Iceland relations

Experiences in the Use of Country Environmental Profiles in the context of Environmental Integration in EC Development Co-operation Programming

Environmental profiling in EU development programmes

Wrong approach Correct approach

For more information, see the Commission's research framework programme

More on EU research funding

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3.4.6. Keeping it short

Traditional print texts that we may use as source material for writing webpages contain lots of redundant wording that isn’t needed on the web. Here are some tips on text length and how to cut words.

Length guidelines

Most of the figures in this table are ceilings (absolute maximums) – not targets to attain.

The rule is always the shorter, the better.

Web page element (all character figures include spaces)

Picture caption

± 120ch (±15 words in English)

<Title> tag

± 70ch (8 -10 words in English)

Heading

± 60ch (8 words in English – ideally 4)

Sentence

120-160ch (15-20 words in English)

Paragraph

320-560ch (40-70 words in English)

Body text

± 2 150ch (350 words in English)

In terms of screens, a web page should ideally be no longer than 4, though this might vary if the page contains tables or large graphics.

Use short versions, not full official names

No need to spell out the full official titles of people, bodies, laws, agreements and other documents, etc.

Use only the key words/concepts readers need to understand. These should preferably be the words they enter in search engines. And if you can make the name a link, this will take people to the full official title if they need it.

Wrong approach

Correct approach

Titles

UNESCO Convention on the Promotion and Protection of Cultural Expression

UNESCO convention on cultural expression
The essence of the convention is “cultural expression”, nothing more.

Minister for Financial Affairs Finance minister
Ministry for Social Security, Generations and Consumer Protection Social security ministry
(in texts mainly about social security - just use the relevant part of the title

Laws, official documents, programmes, etc.

Regulation (EC) No 689/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 March 2007 establishing and amending the rules on data protection

EU regulation 689/2007 on data protection

White paper on environmental protection environment white paper
In 2002 the Council and the European Parliament adopted a Regulation establishing the European solidarity fund. In 2002 the EU decided to set up a European solidarity fund

Events

The Copenhagen summit on 12 June 2005

The 2005 Copenhagen summit

Use as few words as possible to express a concept

Wrong approach

Correct approach

EU initiatives aimed at protecting human health from the risks which may be caused by dangerous chemical substances

EU initiatives to protect people from dangerous chemicals.
[50% shorter than the original text]

Where the Commission's services make representations to the authorities of the Member State against which the complaint has been made, they will abide by the choice you have made regarding disclosure of your identity. Where you have not indicated your choice, the Commission's services will presume that you have opted for confidential treatment.

If we have to contact the authorities you complained about, we will keep your identity confidential unless you state otherwise.
[64% shorter than the original text]

Leave out empty phrases

Wrong approach

Correct approach

It is often the case that a complaint is sent…

Complaints are often sent…

The first thing to keep in mind is that you must update your pages regularly …

You must update your pages regularly …

quantities - in the majority/number of cases, a large proportion of, low level/amount/volume/extent of, a total of

many, some, few or most

time phrases - at (the) present (time) / at an early date / in the near future / in the 2008-10 period, period of time / on a monthly basis

now / soon / in 2008-10 / monthly, every month

Say it once only

Wrong approach

Correct approach

The participants have recognised that […] dialogue between these cultures […] is an essential factor in bringing their peoples closer, promoting understanding between them and improving their perception of each other.

It's enough to simply say e.g. “Dialogue between cultures brings people closer”.

Dialogue and respect between cultures and religions are a necessary pre-condition for bringing the people closer. The mass media can play an important role in the reciprocal recognition and understanding of cultures as a source of mutual enrichment. The original passage says essentially the same thing about 7 times!

Include only relevant information

Wrong approach

Correct approach

When the “European Economic Area Treaty” (EEA Treaty) came into force on 1st January 1994, and Austria joined the European Union (EU) on 1st January 1995, secondary EC law also took effect in the area of social security (included in this are, in particular, Regulations 1408/71 and 574/72 relative to social security provision for migrant workers).

Social security in Austria is now also covered by EU law (in particular regulations 1408/71 and 574/72 on social security provision for migrant workers).

“Now” is what interests readers - not intricate historical details.

Long texts on the Web?

If you are using source texts to create your pages, rewrite them to make them concise and scannable. If you can’t or don’t have the time, but still want to place a long text online, it should be in a downloadable/printable format (e.g. PDF) and not just converted into a long scrolling web page (HTML or XML file).

Readers usually prefer to print long texts, for various reasons:

  • Studies show that 25% of web readers read slower online than from print.
  • Reading from a screen tires the eyes (lower screen resolution makes text more blurred).
  • Readers might have limited time online, especially if paying by the minute.

Show that it a file is downloadable by placing the appropriate icon next to it. Display the file size, so users can assess the download time before clicking. A brief summary of the file’s contents will also help users decide whether they want to read it.

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3.4.7. Words and style

You may speak English very well, but it is easy to make small mistakes when writing in English. These kinds of mistakes can annoy or mislead your readers.

It's not just about using correct grammar or having readable content: your texts should use words that native speakers use when searching for information; otherwise less people will find your page.

Get your work checked by a native speaker or try the DGT's native speaker web editing service.

Avoid jargon...

... unless writing exclusively for experts in the field. If your text is understandable only to insiders, it will exclude large numbers of potential readers.

If you have to use jargon, then at least explain what it means the first time you use it.

For a list of tips, see

Watch out for false friends

These are words in two languages that look or sound familiar but have different meanings. See some examples of false friends.

Tips

Explain an acronym the first time you use it. Search engine users may look for the acronym or words from its full name so include both to increase their chances of finding your page. However, using acronyms too much could alienate non-specialist readers so there are other ways of shortening long names.

Wrong approach 

Correct approach

Cedefop

European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (or, after the first mention, simply “the Centre”)

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  • It makes text clearer and more personal because it identifies the actors in the sentence. It also introduces the action at the earliest stage, so readers can work out what’s happening.
  • It puts the actions in the order they happen so readers can follow the logical sequence of events.

Wrong approach

Correct approach

Complaints may be submitted to the Commission in writing
(not clear who will submit)

You can submit a complaint to the Commission in writing
(or just you can complain to")

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Address readers directly by using “you” - this is more engaging and more personally.

Wrong approach

Correct approach

Complainants must quote the case number of the complaint in any correspondence

Please mention your complaint number every time you write to us

Similarly, consistent reference to ourselves in the third person seems self-important and can be misleading by giving the impression that there is a third party involved.

Wrong approach

Correct approach

If the Commission considers that there may be an infringement of Community law which warrants the opening of an infringement procedure, it addresses a "letter of formal notice" to the Member State concerned, requesting it to submit its observations by a specified date.

If we believe the breach may have been severe enough to justify us taking formal action, we will formally notify the authorities concerned in writing (in a "letter of formal notice"), asking them to respond by a certain deadline

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Using simple words should not be seen as dumbing down but rather ensuring that we don't overestimate readers' knowledge.

Wrong approach

Correct approach

employment opportunities

jobs

investing in human capital

(workforce) training / improving (workers’) skills / training and education

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  • They describe the action rather than hiding it in nouns.
  • They engage readers and are more direct, concrete and conversational than nouns.

Wrong approach

Correct approach

The President decides on the internal organisation of the Commission

The President decides how the Commission’s work is organised

Since the accession of Poland to the EU

Since Poland joined the EU

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These can often make the sentence difficult to understand (especially when double negatives are used.

Wrong approach

Correct approach

for not less than one year

for at least a year

… if they have not lost their entitlement to vote in their country of origin

… if they are still entitled to vote in their country of origin

does not comply with

infringes

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This makes text seem self‑important and is harder to read. All of the following are quite acceptable:

Wrong approach

Correct approach

Documents, policy areas

environment white paper, information society
technologies

Titles of programmes, events, bodies

European year of equal opportunities, 7th research framework programme, environment summit / conference, German presidency, delegation

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The general aim should be no more than one subordinate clause per sentence. But for readability, including some longer sentences is best. The main thing to avoid is text with mostly long and complex sentences.

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Captions draw a reader’s eye, so use them to add an extra layer of information or highlight a point from the main text.

Wrong approach

Correct approach

X, Y and Z at the summit

X, Y and Z discuss the breakthrough on EU emissions trading

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3.5. Optimise access to content

Simply creating and uploading content is not enough. To be sure it will be found and read by as many users as possible,  you need to:

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3.5.1. Ways to access the site

There are several ways to facilitate the navigation of users in a site, that’s why the creation of added-value pages is encouraged. These tools are situated on the horizontal toolbar on the template.

Providing ways to access information improves both the accessibility and usability of information. All people attempt to find information in one of several different ways.

Search

The search is a mandatory tool (it is possible to customise a specific tool, otherwise the webmaster must link to the general europa.eu search engine).

If a site is large, providing a search function allows users to access information quickly.

The user will use the search button when he has a word or phrase that he wants to search for on the site. The search button appears on each page of the site.

What’s new

With a specific "What’s new" page, the user has unique access to all recent news/changes of the site. Webmasters are also encouraged to use RSS feeds to send the information to the user.

Examples Eurostat website

A-Z Index

An alphabetical repository of collected links and information. The index, also contained in the very top tool bar of the site, is an A-Z listing of most of the pages on the website, choosing a letter from the menu reveals all the pages listed for that letter.

Example: Commission A-Z index

Site map

To get an overall view of the site you can use the site map.

A site map is a web page that lists the pages on a website, typically organised in hierarchical way (categories and subcategories of information which are connected to each other). This tool provides users with a way of visualising the site's structure.

The site map can be used like a table of contents in a book to give you an overview of the contents and structure of the site. Each of these is selectable to take you to that part of the site directly. The site map button appears on each page of the site.

Example: Commission site map

FAQs

List of answers to some frequently asked questions. Some questions that webmasters often receive can become a good FAQ section. The questions can mention what type of information the site gives, technical explanations, changes on the site, statistics (number of pages), languages covered, future developments on the site, contact information, etc. If there are several questions, it is better to regroup them in categories.

Some examples: EUROPA FAQs, Eur-Lex FAQs

For a complete list of tools, please consult Service tools chapter.

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3.5.2. Search engines - getting your content found

If internet users don’t have a link to your site (sent to them in an e-mail, saved in their favourites or just posted on another site), they will almost certainly be reliant on search engines to find it. Therefore it is essential to optimise your content for search engines as you write.

The goal is to ensure that your site appears in the first page of search results - the only one that counts, as users rarely look past this page. In fact, few look past the first five results on that page.

Why do this?

Optimising your web pages for search engines can help your content reach many more people than it otherwise might.

If you need to reach beyond your core audience - people already familiar with your site or directed there through their work - you’ll have to design your pages so people can find them via search engines.

Search engines account for over 85% of visitors to the average web page. Not optimising for search is like sending web pages out into a vacuum - they simply will not be found by many people who might be interested in the useful services/information on EUROPA.

How to do it

What helps?

Why?

What can I do?

Using relevant keywords (for readers), especially in:

  • <title> tag
  • URL or web address
  • H1 headings
  • links / menus

(and also in the main body text)

When searching on the web, readers use the words they know best.

If your website doesn't contain these words, search engines won't bring them here.

Discover and use your readers’ keywords throughout your site and avoid jargon

Using metadescriptions

 

 

<Title> tag

To give a short description of what will be found on the website from the search engine result page.

The single most important way to tell search engines what your page is about and so get highly ranked for relevant searches.

Write a clear, compelling 150-160 character description of the site, to allow people to decide if this is what they are looking for.

 

 

How to write <title> tags

Headings (H1, H2, etc.)
(headings displayed in the body text of the web page)

Another key way to signal your page content to search engines – especially H1.

Use your key phrases in headings

Keyword density in the body text

Search engines rank your page as more relevant to a given search if keywords account for 2.5-3% of the total text.

Use your keywords often and
keep texts as short as possible - fewer words mean your keywords account for a higher share. Use keywords in titles.

Caption text and ALT tags

Search engines are blind. You have to describe your images and other media files with appropriate text.

Use relevant key phrases in caption text and ALT tags.

Keywords in the URL

Search engines look at URLs for  clues about page content.
Any words in your URL that match those used in the search are highlighted in bold in search results pages.
This may make searchers even more likely to click on your page.

If possible, use descriptive file names (i.e. real words) in URL. Drop unnecessary words such as 'and' or 'the'.
Use hyphens (not underscores) to separate words in URLs.
e.g. climate-change not climate_change or climatechange

Inbound links

The more inbound links you have from reputable/popular sites in a similar field, the higher you will be ranked by search engines.

You can create them yourself by -contacting owners of other sites and agreeing to link to each other's site.
-Adding buttons to your pages that users can use to forward links to their contacts via social media sites.
-But the best way to induce other sites to link to you spontaneously is to have good content (i.e. relevant and well-presented).

Internal links

Internal links point to other pages on your site.
By guiding visitors to these pages, they show search engines that the content there is also relevant and this increases the ranking of the page in results pages.

Link all the pages within your site (using relevant keywords).

Links containing keywords

Search engines read links more frequently than a page's body text, as they're a more concentrated indication of the content.

Always include relevant keywords in your links.

Unique content and frequent changes

The newer the better. Google likes fresh pages.

Update regularly.

Accessible content

Everybody should be able to use your site no matter what their disability or equipment.

Make your site fully accessible.
Check its accessibility with the available tools.

Site maps
Always include a comprehensive and up-to-date site map (especially if you have news content).

A site map is a representation of the site's link structure.
It allows search engines to index all the most important pages of the site easily, because they can access them from a single page.

You can submit a site map to Google.
A link to the site map should be clearly accessible from your home page at least.

Differentiating key words in the text

Search engine robots scan text to find words that describe the page's subject better than others.
You can help them by differentiating those words from the rest of the text.

Use layout techniques such as bolding and bulleting.

Do you need to register with search engines?

To be sure your sites are found quickly and efficiently, it’s best to register them with at least the leading search engines: Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft.

However, since these major engines use crawlers to find pages for their search results, if other sites link to you, they'll find you even if you're not registered with them.

Some search engines, notably Yahoo!, also operate a paid submission service that guarantees crawling for either a set fee or cost per click. Such programs usually guarantee inclusion in the database, but do not guarantee specific ranking within the search results.

Two major directories, the Yahoo Directory and the Open Directory Project, both require manual submission and human editorial review.

Google also offers Google webmaster tools, for which an XML site map feed can be created and submitted for free to ensure that all pages are found, especially pages that aren't discoverable by automatically following links.

Don't forget, also, to put your XML site map link in your robots.txt.

Guidelines and references

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3.5.3. Metadata

Mandatory requirementThere are 7 metadata on EUROPA webistes that are compulsory: "Content-Language", "description", "reference", "creator", "classification", "keywords", "date".

 

View all IPG Rules

Information resources must be made visible in a way that allows people to tell whether the resources are likely to be useful to them. Metadata is a systematic method for describing such resources and thereby improving access to them. In other words, it is data about data. If a resource is worth making available, it is also worth describing it with relevant metadata so as to maximise the ability of information seekers to locate it. This makes metadata extremely important in the World Wide Web. While the primary aim of metadata is to improve resource recovery, metadata sets are also being developed for different reasons, including:

  • administrative control
  • security
  • personal information
  • Management information
  • content rating
  • rights management
  • preservation

Whether in the traditional context or in the Internet context, the key purpose of metadata is to facilitate and improve retrieval information.

How search engines work

Search engines consist of a software package that searches the web, extracts data and organises it in a database. People can then submit a query using a web browser. The search engine locates the appropriate data in the database and displays it via the browser. Search engines usually have three major elements:

  • The spider, also called the crawler, harvester, robot or gatherer. The spider visits a web page, reads it and then follows links to other pages within the site. The spider returns to the site on a regular basis, such as every month or two, to look for changes/updates.
  • The index. Everything the spider finds goes into the index. The index is like a giant book containing a copy of every web page that the spider finds. If a web page changes, then this book is updated with new information.
  • Search engine software: this is the program that sifts through millions of pages recorded in the index to find matches to a search and ranks them in order of what it believes is most relevant.

At the global level, internet search engines were developed to search across multiple websites. Unfortunately the results offered are often large in numbers, but not very relevant. This is what information scientists call “high recall” but “low precision”. The low precision means not being able to locate the most relevant and useful documents. The introduction of the <META> element as part of HTML coding was in part an attempt to encourage search engines to extract and index better structured data such as description and keywords.

The metadata are also very important for the EUROPA search engine. They are used to categorise the results of a query (Content-Language and Classification) and to influence their ranking in the result list (Keywords, Description and Date).

Timing/Frequency

Because of its prime importance in assisting information retrieval, metadata should be among the first things to consider where creating a site.

Steps

Metadata are one of the first steps you have to follow when creating a new site and must be present on all pages. Developing a website without metadata is like stocking a library without providing an index system.

Descriptive META information has many benefits. They can make information easier to locate by providing search tools with more detailed indexing information, rate information to protect minors from viewing certain content, as well as a variety of other things. It is also related to the management of a website in that it helps provide meaning for a document's role in a global or local information space.

Metadata provide information for:

  • specification of the character set to be used
  • identifying documents (reference, title, language, etc.)
  • management and administration purposes (expiry date, author, etc.)
  • classification (description, etc.)

On EUROPA, only 7 metadata are compulsory: "Content-Language", "description", "reference", "creator", "classification", "keywords", "date".

Besides these compulsory metadata, the information provider may introduce other metadata if he deems them necessary for management purposes (e.g. "DateAlarm, "WritePermission", "Version").

For the full list of metadata as identified by the "Dublin Metadata Core Element Set", see http://dublincore.org/documents/dces/.

Please note that it is strictly forbidden to include in the metadata any information relating to the firms involved in designing, producing and updating web pages for EUROPA.

Detailed information on metadata is given in the "Instructions" section.

EUROPA templates content 7 compulsory metadata to fill in;

  1. <meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="en">
  2. <meta name="description" content="Content should be a sentence that describes the content of the page">
  3. <meta name="reference" content="SITE_NAME">
  4. <meta name="creator" content="COMM/DG/UNIT">
  5. <meta name="classification" content="Numeric code from the alphabetical classification list common to all the institutions">
  6. <meta name="keywords" content="One or more of the commission specific keywords + European Commission, European Union, EU">
  7. <meta name="date" content="Date of creation of the page">

Translation

Translation of relevant metadata should be requested in all languages in which one intends to publish a site. Translation availability and translation delays should therefore be taken in mind when planning a new site available in various languages.

Evaluation criteria

Metadata should be compliant with the IPG recommendations.

Further evaluation could be done by running relevant tests of the page(s) concerned in different search engines and measuring the accuracy and effectiveness of the information retrieved.

Outputs

List of defined metadata + all necessary translations

Work Guidelines and references

Contacts

Further information on multilingualism issues can be requested by email to the EUROPA team.

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3.5.3.1. Instructions for inserting the compulsory metadata

Each descriptive element has a NAME attribute and a CONTENT attribute in the following format:

<meta name="Keywords" content="European Commission, institutions, European Union, EU">

All metadata can have multiple values, except "REFERENCE"; "DESCRIPTION" and "DATE". The syntax for listing multiple values is always the same, i.e. separation by commas.

REFERENCE

Change language code
<meta name="Reference" content=
"COMM/IPG/BASICS/MANAGEMENT/DAY_TO_DAY/EN">
N/A
No

CREATOR

None
<meta name="Creator" content=" COMM/COMM/A5">
Author
Yes (commas must separate multiple entries)

LANGUAGE

Change language code
<meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="en">
N/A
Yes (commas must separate multiple entries)

CLASSIFICATION

None
<meta name="Classification" content="16000">
N/A
Yes (commas must separate multiple entries)

KEYWORDS

  • Translate.
  • The "keywords" metadata must appear in the language of the document (for pages in Greek, the keywords must be in Greek).
  • For equivalents in other official languages of the terms included in the classification table, see the Eurovoc thesaurus and translations in the IATE database.
<meta name="Keywords"content="Europe Direct, Communication, Citizens, European Commission, European Union, EU">
Keywords
Yes (commas must separate multiple entries)

DESCRIPTION

Translate
Subject
No

DATE

None
<meta name="Date" content="21/06/2009">
Created
No
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3.5.3.2. "META NAME=Classification"

Here is the list of the top level Classification codes (2 digit numerical code). The metadata "Classification" must contain at least one of these top level codes. If no further precision is needed, the code is identified by the main code, followed by 3 zeros. It is however also possible to indicate a more detailed classification by using the extended 5 digit classification codepdf(74 kB) Choose translations of the previous link .  

Joint alphabetic list of document classification by subject for all the institutions

01

Agriculture, farming

02

Budget, financing, fraud

03

European citizenship, right to vote, ombudsman, protection of privacy

04

Information society, communication, information, audiovisual, telecommunications, public opinion

05

Competition, state aid

06

Consumers, distribution, civil defence, nuclear safety, food safety

07

Culture, tourism, sport

08

Education, teaching, vocational training, youth

09

Enlargement, accession of new states

10

Employment, work

11

Energy

12

Type of business, company law

13

Environment

14

Tax system

15

Industry

16

Institutions

17

Justice and home affairs, asylum, judicial cooperation, police cooperation, Schengen, visa, immigration, external frontiers, fight against crime, drugs, terrorism

18

Free movement of capital, finance

19

Free movement of goods, customs, public contracts, standardisation

20

Free movement of persons, right of establishment, workers

21

Free movement of services, insurance, banks, credit, right of establishment, savings, public contracts

22

Fisheries

23

Regional policy, OCT

24

Social policy, public health

25

Research & development

26

External relations, CFSP, development cooperation, humanitarian aid

27

Trans-European networks

28

Respect for human rights, racism, xenophobia

29

Transport

30

Economic and monetary union, euro, single currency

31

Statistics

32

Language, multilingualism, translation, interpretation

33

Administration, management and human resources policy

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3.6. Linking policy

Make sure that all possible links to information present on the ‘horizontal’ EUROPA site have been taken into account: summaries of EU legislation, statistics, publications, EUR-Lex, press releases, etc. Please keep in mind the WAI accessibility while creating hyperlinks. It is necessary to create hyperlinks which make sense when read out of context (please do avoid expressions ‘Click here’ or ‘For more information’). If your links are images, you will need to add alternative texts. If your source and destination languages are not the same, you will need to add a language icon for the user. The same goes for the PDF documents, the user should be informed by the PDF icon and the size of the document should be given (if you use CWCM, they will be added automatically) .

If users/readers by following a link leave your portal, make this fact obvious to them.

For the creation of hyperlinks, please see the section in DESIGN chapter about design of the links.

Deep versus general links

A portal of links, where the portal administration “only” provides an overview and then makes more detailed information accessible through carefully edited hierarchies of links, is only possible where concise, well structured, high quality information and services already exist elsewhere, eliminating the need for editing or rewriting existing information.

Two possibilities are taken into account:

Deep links

By deep linking into a site, the linking portal allows the users to bypass the home page of the linked portal, a page that often contains terms and conditions and proprietary information relevant to the use of the linked portal. Deep links that go directly to a portal’s interior pages enhance usability because, unlike general links, they specifically relate to users’ goals and context.
A major drawback of deep links is their greater dependency on small changes in the target site. For this reason, the management of deep links can be difficult. In order to avoid broken links, deep linking requires immediate information on the changes on the pages where the links refer to. Inside EUROPA, this could be done automatically, for example by means of a logical access mechanism to pages, hiding the intricacies of the physical arrangement of information on a particular site. A nice example of this principle can be found on EUR-Lex, where a logical linking mechanism called UDL (Uniform Document Locator) has been implemented. Use of a Corporate Web Content Management (CWCM) also facilitates the link management of all pages and documents residing inside the CWCM. Unfortunately there is no simple solution for the links pointing outside of EUROPA.

General links

In this case, the users are provided with links giving direct access to a top entry level or section of other sites where they should then search further for the information of specific interest using the site’s navigation/services. The editing and formatting or thematic organisation of this site may be totally unrelated to the one of the portal.

Upcoming enhancements

The use of syndication techniques and web services can simplify the reusability of content. These facilities are already provided by portals such as EU-Bookshop and the EU Press Room and can also be used by sites produced by means of the Corporate Web Content Management system.

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3.6.1. Links to external sites

Link to pages that provide high-quality content that is different from the information on your page but relevant to it.

The Commission is not legally responsible for the content of the sites we link to, but their quality, content and tone should not reflect badly on us.

Do link to pages that

  • deal with an issue, policy or outside organisation in greater depth than is appropriate on EUROPA;
  • are relevant and useful to a wide audience;
  • are authoritative, accurate and up-to-date;
  • are open to the public (no password-protected sites);
  • are representative - if your page covers a range of countries, organisations or languages, then your links should too.

Do not link to pages that

  • are primarily commercial – i.e. that carry paying advertisements, or are chiefly concerned with sales;
  • are offensive – e.g. contain hate speech, incite discrimination or are otherwise likely to cause grave offence;
  • contain misleading information or unsubstantiated claims.

If in doubt do not link. The EUROPA team reserves the right to disallow or remove any such links.

Good practice

  • Verify the content before and during linking. Remove the link when the site is no longer relevant or no longer in line with original objective of the link.
  • Check that the sites you link to have credible privacy policies that guarantee compliance with relevant privacy laws.
  • Link to a site only if you are confident that the site-owner would not object to the link. Obtain permission if possible. If they do object, remove the link immediately.
  • Do not link to Word or PDF documents on other sites, but only to HTML web pages.
  • Use plain text links instead of images or logos. If you want to enrich the text link with an icon or the official logo of your partners or social network pages, you must ensure the image fully comply with the legal requirements of the branding or registered trademark. The overall look and feel should not give the impression that EU institutions endorse, support or make publicity of commercial brands (e.g. enormous or manipulated logos of primarily commercial companies).
  • Users should be able to identify external links before they click on them. If this is not self-evident from the link text, then make it explicit, e.g. by placing all outside links in a separate list:

          External links:
           Millennium development goals  (United Nations)

  • Open outbound links in a new browser window.
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3.6.2. Design of links

The content about the design of links is in the chapter DESIGN

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3.6.3. Eur-Lex, EU-Bookshop and TED: how to establish links?

The Publications Office provides precise instructions for establishing links to the documents.

EUR-Lex

EUR-Lex (http://eur-lex.europa.eu) provides direct free access to European Union law. The system makes it possible to consult the Official Journal of the European Union and it includes inter alia the treaties, legislation, case-law and legislative proposals. It offers extensive search facilities.

You will find how to create links to documents on their website.

For more information about content and functionalities of the site, please the page About this website.

EU-Bookshop

The deep link should have the following format:

 http://bookshop.europa.eu/uri?target=EUB:NOTICE:<catalogue number>:<navigation language>

The deep link is composed of the first 9 characters of the catalogue number, followed by the 2 characters of the navigation language you want for the information display. For example, for displaying the details related to publication KA7007020 in the navigation language English, the link will look as follows:

http://bookshop.europa.eu/uri?target=EUB:NOTICE:KA7007020:EN

You can also add the language code to the 9 characters of the catalogue number:

http://bookshop.europa.eu/uri?target=EUB:NOTICE:KA7007020:EN:EN

Please note that due to the strictly language based architecture of the EU-Bookshop, the display of the publication language is coupled with the navigation language chosen, with fallback to EN. Therefore, if no navigation language encoding is applied, EU-Bookshop will choose EN by default:

http://bookshop.europa.eu/uri?target=EUB:NOTICE:KA7007020

If you implement such links on your website engine or in-house application, we recommend to dynamically link to the current navigation language of the user. It will be of course more user friendly to keep the same browsing language when going from your website to the related EU-Bookshop pages.

TED (Tenders Electronic Daily)

The links to TED documents have the following format:

http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:xxxxxx-xxxx:TEXT:yy:HTML

where xxxxxx-xxxx must be replaced by the number of the document (ex: 123456-2006) and yy by the language code (ex: EN for English).

For complete HTML code of the link, ready to copy paste into your HTML page code, please click on the ‘URI’ icon in the documents: a small window with the code will open.

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3.6.4. Links to EUROPA

Links to EUROPA from external sites have to meet the following conditions: 

  1. Links should where possible be illustrated with official logos and/or trademarks owned and/or licensed by the European institutions and should comply with the instructions provided. If you cannot use logos or trademarks, you can use text links (for example: "For more information, see the EUROPA website"), subject to the conditions below.
  2. Links can be made only to pages displaying the EUROPA legal notice .
  3. When users access EUROPA via an external link, it should be perfectly clear to them that they are viewing information that is free and not exclusive.
  4. Links should not give the impression that the EU institutions endorse or support the objectives or contents of the host website or the organisation managing it.
  5. If links are made from a frames-based website, the pages should not be displayed as frames on that site in a way that might mislead users as to their true origin.
  6. As soon as you make a link to us, notify the EUROPA webmaster by sending the URL of the page where the link appears - so we can check whether your site has followed points 1-5 above. 

 

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3.7. Editorial guidelines

In-house guides

Language aids

General writing guides

External sites on web writing

Training course learning material in French

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4. Interface and technical design

The purpose of the interface and technical design phase is to translate the site’s objectives into a visual solution and to define the site’s “look and feel”.

Description

This section describes in detail the different activities to be carried out in order to implement a site’s objectives and requirements, and to make sure that a created site “fits” into the EUROPA family. Many of the activities are classical design activities that concern the creation of discrete elements that express the objectives and vision of the site in concrete terms and elements. Here can also be found the various guidelines and rules in force with regard to the visual design, including a walkthrough of the standard templates and their various key constituent components.

Activities

  • Establishing precise page layout, page design and user interface design standards
  • Creation of illustrations, photography, logos, flash animations, and any other audiovisual content (collect the captions)
  • Rich Media Packages (RMP) and any other audiovisual content (collect the captions)
  • Acquisition of copyrights if necessary for third parties elements
  • Programming and scripting with CGI, ColdFusion, Java, XSLT
  • Customization of search functionality (Verity, thesaurus, indexing, search multilingual, collections, topics, HotPages, etc.)
  • Design and validation of accessibility features (WAI, etc.)
  • Design database, application including back-office system
  • Perform any additional necessary translations

Quality Assurance/ Evaluation criteria

  • Content proofreading
  • Pre-translation linguistic advice/editing by DGT.D.2
  • Translations proofreading

Inputs

  • Presentation Style Guide
  • Relevant standards (IPG, technical standards)
  • Relevant constraints (Data Centre, DIGIT, etc.)
  • Site specification
  • Detailed site design specifications
  • Specifications of user platform (browser environment. connection speed required, etc.)
  • Specifications of Web server resources needed
  • Programming proposals based on functional needs of the future site
  • Site “storyboard” , diagrams (site maps, thumbnails, outlines, tables of contents)
  • Content plan/schedule: detailed description of site contents
    (hierarchical list of all content (texts, picture material) by page; for each element identify who is responsible for supplying the content; deadlines)
  • Prototype(s)
  • Schedule for site design and construction

Outputs

  • Graphic design specifications for all page types
  • Site thumbnails, and roughs (Graphics/Interface deign Models, graphic design and interface design sketches)
  • Non-text content (Illustrations, Photography, other A/V, etc.)
  • Text, edited and proofread
  • Finished HTML template(s)
  • Finished examples of key pages
  • Interface design and master page precise layout
  • JavaScript scripts, Java applets, etc. 
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4.1. General presentation rules

Improve citizen interactions through a consistent user experience and improved visual presentation. The principle of consistent user experience is becoming common practice and is very important.

Read general presentation rules:

 

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4.1.1. Screen layout

The look of a Web page depends on several elements:

  • resolution
  • display size
  • colour settings
  • browser window
  • user’s preferences

Indeed, it is not possible to have complete control over the look of a Web page and it must be taken into account when the page layout is done. Whatever the screen size is, try to maximise the information place in the space visible on the screen before vertical scrolling.

Horizontal scrolling

The standard target screen size is 1024x768 pixels. Layout should be always checked for correct display on 800x600 screens. Horizontal scrolling is not allowed under any circumstances.

Vertical scrolling

The length of a page should not be longer than four times the height of the screen of reference (768 pixels). When pages are longer than two vertical screens a top link should be introduced between paragraphs. 

The header

The top area of a web page is the most visible area of a website. This is the place to identify the institution, the purpose of the site and to offer coherent and consistent navigation aids that are constantly applied across every page in the site.

The content area

The format could be flexible and may be adapted for the "look and feel" of each site. The best approach is to create a page template that specifies the column layout, the position of major navigation links and any other page elements. It should then be applied on every page within a site. The goal is to establish a logical screen layout that allows easily introducing text and graphics without rethinking at any time the basic design approach.

Constructing page(s) layout: fixed layout VS flexible layout

The width of pages can be fixed in size with pixels or can use percentages in order to adapt the layout to the various screen sizes. Both layouts have advantages and disadvantages. However, in the last years, more than 55% of screen resolutions are bigger than 1024x768 and therefore the EUROPA Templates have implemented an approach semi-fixed instead of flexible to avoid having long lines of text. The maximum width has been set up to 984px and the minimum to 770px. The minimum width can be customised depending on each site layout.

Fixed layout

Long lines of text can slow reading. Ideally a line length should be limited to no more than 75-80 characters. If there is only one column of text you could apply a centered fixed layout, where the text block, not the text itself, is centered in the page. However, a sheet of A4 paper is not as wide as a 1024x768 screen, so screen presentation is reformatted for printing. This automatic reformatting can be inhibited by specifying fixed width tables or images that exceed the paper width, resulting in the loss of text. You should not give to any element of the page a width of more than 650 pixels if you want to be sure that the page prints safely. CSS can also be used for a safe printing.

Flexible layout

The use of a multicolumn layout can increase legibility and functionality. The page can be divided into columns containing the site navigation, the main text and maybe a third column with relevant links related content. Several columns allow applying a flexible page layout as they might narrow the main text column to a comfortable line length. Use percentages to define the width of a table (max. 95%) or the cell containing the main text. Images longer than 650px can prevent text on Web pages of being printed correctly.

safe printscreen

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4.1.2. General rules

The described rules bellow are commons for all templates.

Cascading Style Sheet/Formatting

Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) helps to simplify the task of maintaining websites by separating formatting information from the structure and content of a document and by providing more sophisticated layout and design features for web pages. All graphical formatting should be done through CSS.

CSS has put an end to the (mis)use of tables as design structure. However, even with current browsers, some CSS-formatting and positioning could be displayed differently in different browsers.

Pages must always be legible when CSS is disabled.

The templates use a standard style sheet, containing a set of classes that determine the presentation of the standard elements and a definition by default for all HTML elements. A local.css should also be used to customise the layout of the content area.

Text/fonts

Reading on screen is harder on the eyes than reading on paper. Texts written specially for websites should be short and concise. Read more about writing for the Web.

A rule of thumb is that a line shouldn’t hold more than 75-80 characters. The optimal readability is achieved around 65 characters per line.

The font Verdana is mandatory for all typographical elements within the page. A general reference "Sans-Serif" must always be included in the specification, to help users who don’t have the specified font.

Underlined text is reserved for hyperlinks. It should not be used for other purposes.

Text must be displayed in a contrasting colour to the background colour used.

Scrolling and moving text should be avoided.

Colours

To maintain the image of the Commission and to assure the readers that they are in EUROPA, it is important that the mandatory colours are respected.

The colours of the European Commission logo in the banner must be dark blue #004494 and yellow #f9e904, dark grey #5c6a6d and grey #c5c7c8.

The site name in the identification banner should be blue, #0065a2.

The subtitle in the identification banner should be white, #ffffff. 

Text colour should be #000000 or in a contrasting colour to the background colour used.

Link colour should be #347C98.

Visited link colour should be #551A8B.

It is recommended to use white (#ffffff) as the background colour of all pages.

Use the hexadecimal format "#nnnnnn" instead of names, which are not all recognised by all browsers.

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4.1.3. Images

After text, images are the most basic and common web content. Images are important building blocks in web design. A well-chosen illustration can explain a context or give more depth to a text. Another important aspect is that colour and illustrations catch the readers’ attention and make the web page more attractive.  

Images can for instance be photos, drawings, maps and diagrams, but also text.

The described rules below are common for all templates. Particular elements for each template are presented in specific pages.

Image content

Use images that add value and underline the message of your page. You want to draw the readers’ attention to your page, but not to draw the attention from the message.

Size

It is often better to focus on a detail than to reduce an entire photo to a fraction of its original size.

It is good practice to decide on a few “standard” image sizes when you develop the template for your pages. This makes it easier to update the pages and the result will be more coherent, design-wise.

The images' physical size should be 100% of their displayed size on the page, not resized by the browser. If you upload a big picture to the server and display it at a smaller size, the users need to download an unnecessarily big image. If you upload a small image and resize it to be larger, the users will see a pixelated and/or fuzzy image.

Provide always the exact pixel dimensions when you specify the image using the width and height attributes of the img element.

Text in images

Avoid using images of text (headings, titles, etc.)  It is not always possible to enlarge the text and never possible to change the contrast between text and background, which is difficult for users with visual impairments. Even with browser zoom or screen magnification images of text can appear blurred or pixelated. Prefer real text and if necessary use CSS for font effects and background images.

Be careful when including text in maps and diagrams, you may need to create one image per language. In some cases, a legend can include the explanations to a diagram.

Text in banners, buttons, etc. should be anti-aliased unless it is set in a typeface designed for the Web. Anti-aliasing removes jagged edges by blending the edges of a font with the surrounding pixels. The resulting object is thus better integrated in the image. For small text sizes, you need to experiment to see what works best for the size and the typeface.

Images as background

Avoid using large background images unless they are light. A patterned and contrasted background makes it more difficult to read text in a page.

ALTernative text - ALT tag

Images must have an ALTernative text describing the image content. ALT is an HTML attribute that is displayed if the browser can’t show the image. It is also essential for vocal browsers. It should be no more than 70 characters.

For example:

<img src="button_presidency_en.gif" alt="Presidency of the EU" />

Decorative images are those that convey no information. For these, provide a text alternative but leave it empty (alt=""). This informs the user (or assistive technology) that the image is not relevant to the meaning of the content. Purely decorative images can be better inserted using CSS rather than in mark-up, improving maintainability.

Often images have functionality, beyond their information content. Always remember that you need to describe the functionality rather than the image itself. For example, buttons and links indicate actions. The text alternative should describe the action, not the image. For example, for a “print this page” button with a printer icon, a proper alternative text is "Print this page" and not "printer icon".

Charts, graphs and infographics are complex images to be described in a few words. You should provide a brief ALT text description of the image and then provide a longer description elsewhere. There are several ways of providing a long description for images: within the same page, adding a page describing the image and linking to it via a normal text link or via the “longdesc” attribute added to the <img> tag that provides a link to the long description page.

Example of longdesc attribute:

<img src="chart_unemployment_en.gif" alt="Chart showing EU unemployment by countries in 2010" longdesc="chart_description_en.html" />

Inline vs background images

Images can be inserted in a page using the HTML tag <img> or as background within a CSS. Use CSS background images for repeating decorative images and inline images for functional or images that convey information.

One of the problems with background images is accessibility. When you turn off CSS, background images do not have ALT text and some operating systems such as Windows High Contrast mode have the effect of hiding CSS background images. Therefore, the user will not be able to fully use your website. 

Functional images (e.g. a print icon opening the print function, a play button, etc.) or images providing information (e.g. PDF icons within a link with alt text PDF to convey information about the file format to screen readers) should be inline images inserted with the tag <img>.

CSS sprites

CSS sprites is a technique that allows by using CSS positioning to selectively display composite background images. They are a useful method to display graphics while preserving bandwidth (save HTTP requests) and improving page rendering times (the combined image is often smaller in size than the individual images).  

While it is certain the advantages of the sprite technique, it may incorrectly be assumed that all sliced images should be placed as backgrounds — even images that convey important information. The results would be a less accessible site, and would limit the potential benefits of the title and ALT attributes in the HTML. To maximize accessibility and usability, use CSS sprites only for repeating decorative effects.

Animations

Animated GIFs can be used for simple animations, but be aware that some users find this very annoying.

Flash is the best format for vector animations, and the plug-in is very common. You should still make sure the information is available in another format for those who don’t want to – or can’t – see Flash files.

File formats

Images on EUROPA must be in either JPG, or GIF format. PNG format is also allowed. As a rule of thumb, JPG is best for photos and illustrations with many colors. GIF is better for text and illustrations with areas of solid color (such as maps and diagrams). PNG is best for transparency effects but many older browsers do not support this format.

You can read more about image formats in the standard chapter.

Compression

Most graphic software lets you view the effect of different compression levels; try to keep the images small without obvious quality loss.

Beware of quality loss through repeated compression. Changes should be carried out on the original file formats (e.g. PSD for Photoshop) not on the final files (GIF, JPG).

JP(E)G compression removes information from the digital image, thus reducing the file size. This means visual information is lost permanently. If you need to change a JPG, go back to the original image file. Compression of already compressed files can give unexpected results.

GIF compression is most suitable for flat areas of colour. A dithered GIF has softer transitions between different colours, as colours between system colours are approximated. An interlaced GIF image gives a nice effect for users on slow Internet connections. The image is displayed one horizontal row at a time, but not from top to bottom, allowing the graphic information to be stored in a multi-pass format.

Standard images and icons

Always use the standard icons of EUROPA (language codes, PDF, ZIP, arrows, flags, etc.) when available:

Copyrights for third party material

All third-party material published on EUROPA must be checked for the necessary copyrights. If the material is not the property of the Commission, it should not be published or removed immediately. The images in our Audiovisual portal are free to download and use.

If contractors prepare material for the Commission that includes third-party material for which rights need to be obtained, these contractors must provide the necessary proof of their acquisition. Pay special attention to photos of buildings, the rights to reproduce them is under discussion in several European countries.

If the Commission prepares material itself that includes third-party material for which rights need to be obtained, all the necessary proof of their acquisition must be kept on file.

Read more about legal notice and copyright.

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4.1.4. Links

HTML hypertext links have four main properties:

  • Label:
    The label of a link is the visual part of a link: it can be text, image or image map. This is also the active area that reacts to user action.
  • Target :
    The target URL designates the destination of the link.
  • Target page:
    The window in which the target URL should be open.
  • State:
    Links have four states depending on previous user actions: visited, hover, active and focus.

A hypertext link is created with this kind of HTML tag:

<a href="http://europa.eu/” target=”_blank”>Document</a>

The target is 'http://europa.eu'.
The window is '_blank'.
The label is 'Document'.

General rules

The label of a link is the visual part of a link: it can be text, image or image map. This is also the active area that reacts to user action.

Recommendations for this part of the link: Clearly identify the target of each link.

In addition to clear link text, content developers may further clarify the target of a link with an informative link title (e.g. the "title" attribute in HTML).

Read more to write good link labels on Menus and links - Helping users navigate page.

The URL of the link can be specified in several ways:

Absolute URLs

These URLs are complete and include the protocol, for example "http://domain.eu/site/index.htm".

This is the format to use to create a link to a document that is on another domain (external link). This also includes links from europa.eu to ec.europa.eu or any other subdomain and vice-versa.

For internal links, this format must not be used as it destroys the independence of the test and production environments by crossing over between them.

Relative URLs

These URLs define the path to follow from the calling document to the destination document. For example: "../../index.html". This is the preferred method within a EUROPA site.

Semi-absolute URLs

These URLs start with the root folder of the web server, for example "/site/index.html".
This is particularly useful to return to higher levels of EUROPA or other sites and also to reference standard elements, because the HREF value remains the same at whichever level it is used.

Keep internal navigation in the current window.

Open external links in the new browser window.

The appearance of a link can be defined for each of its state, thanks to CSS.

The only restrictions are the following:

  • Non-visited text link should always be underlined.
  • Links in other states (visited, active, hover, focus) should be readable, especially regarding contrast between text colour and background colour.

It is also recommended to keep the same font size for each state.

  • Link colour should be #027AC6.
  • Visited link should be #551A8B.
  • A special colour for "hover", "active" and "focus" status is optional.

Specific rules

The basic rule is that links must always point to a page in the same language as the source page.

However, the destination document does not always exist in the appropriate language. In addition, depending on the context, the target document type and language availability, a significant number of situations could occur and for each case a rule should be defined for your website.

Here are the most common situations and some advices:

Navigation links

The situation must be evaluated and defined on a site-by-site basis.

  • The website owner is free to decide about the link policy he wants to apply for its website.
  • Using language and file type icons with file size may alter the design of web page.

Navigation path and service tools must not contain file type and language icons in order to preserve design.

Text links

The target link does not exist in the same language as the calling page.

Create a link to the document in the same language as the source page. By clicking on the link, a linguistic redirection page will appear offering the user with the list of available languages.

Example: The EU in Spain

The target link exists or does not exist in the same language as the calling page but you want to show the languages available for this document.

  • Create a link to the document regardless of the fact whether the document in the language of the page exists. In case it does not exist, a linguistic redirection page will appear offering the user with the list of available languages.
  • Following the linked text, insert the single language-choice icon that will trigger a pop-up showing the linguistic coverage of the document. This icon will call a web service that will detect automatically all languages available for static pages on the EUROPA file system and RAPID.

Example: European Commission template  Choose translations of the previous link  

Please note that the automatic redirection and the web service described above are only available for static pages (managed manually or by means of the CWCMS). Dynamic applications should create their own web service and linguistic redirection page. This way other websites could link to dynamic pages using the web service and detect automatically the available languages. You can look into the instructions on how to set up a web servicepdf(56 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  for dynamic applications.

Read more about Multilingualism.

  • Create a link to the document regardless of the fact whether the document in the language of the page exist. In case it does not exist, a linguistic redirection page will appear offering the user with the list of available languages.
  • Following the linked text, insert the file type icon indicating the type of file.
  • Following the file type icon, indicate the size of the file in brackets in Kb, Mb or b.
  • The document icons and size should be included within the <a> tag.
  • If you want to show for PDFs or other documents the whole linguistic coverage, add the clickable single language-choice icon that will trigger a pop-up displaying all the available languages.

More information on links to binary documents on the Document icons page.

Examples: Templatezip(487 kB) (displaying single language) - Test filecrtext(1 kB) Choose translations of the previous link   Choose translations of the previous link   (displaying multiple languages).

See also the remark on how to set up a Web service for dynamic applications mentioned in the sub-title above.

  • The target link is always on the image.
  • The image must have an alternative text, describing the target page. If the language of the alternative text is in a different language than the rest of the page, the lang attribute must be specified in the <img> tag.
  • If the language of the target page is different, it must be specified with the href lang attribute in the <a> tag.
  • Language and file type change will be indicated in alternative text and language attribute. No additional icons should be used.

Several different links may be attached to different areas of an image (common examples are links to different countries from a map or to different persons from a photo).

Image maps must be client-side, meaning that they must be inserted in the HTML code of the page. This is normally done by all web editing software.

The image must have an alternative text for each link of each area in the language of the page, describing the target page of the link, and also indicating the language of the target page if it’s different (same rule as above for Image links).

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4.1.5. Print

Computer screens are very different from the printed page. Screen presentation is reformatted for printing. This automatic reformatting can be inhibited by specifying fixed width that exceeds the paper width, resulting in the loss of text. For a safe printing, do not go longer that a fix width of 650 pixels.

In general, browsers do not print background images. If visual effects are produced by a combination of background and foreground images, the print and screen versions may differ considerably.

For a safe printing you can use CSS.

CSS2 introduced a mechanism for closer control over printing web pages that are styled using style sheets. The latest versions of Web browsers support CSS2 print media stylesheets, which can be used to print documents in a style better suited to the medium.

The code line <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="filename.css" media="print"> on the header of HTML documents allows to refer a CSS that will be activated only when the print function is called. In this special printing CSS, you can redefine the properties of the classes applied in the HTML pages.

An additional way to  create a "print-friendly version" of an HTML page with CSS (apart from the specific declaration with the attribute media=”print”) is to put specific instructions inside the (main) CSS itself, such as for instance:

@media print {
body { color:#000; }
.layoutRight{ display: none; }
.layoutContent { background-color: #fff; }
}

This approach has been implemented in the standard templates. So they offer a print-friendly version by default. 

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4.2. Standard templates

The standard presentation provides the following advantages to both users and information providers:

  • A "corporate image" for the Commission which confirms the coherent look of the service;
  • Ease of use through:
    • standard facilities recognised by consistent appearance and position on every page providing the same functions throughout the site at all levels
    • navigational aids both "vertically" and "horizontally" (for example, between languages)

The standard template must be used for all new development and can also be introduced on existing pages to replace a previous template, but this should be done on a site basis, not page by page.

The pages using this template must contain at least all the elements shown in the mandatory version. Possible additional standard elements are shown in the complete version.

There are two templates:

The "europa.eu" address space is interinstitutional and brings together information from all the European institutions. Even though each institution manages its own site, EUROPA is designed as the starting point for all information concerning the European Union. The interinstitutional pages are administered by the Commission (DG COMM) on behalf of and in close collaboration with the other institutions.

Sites that have an interinstitutional mission and content or which are not linked to a particular institution or DG can be hosted at EU level and must use the Interinstituional template.

For the Commission's Directorates-General, the default address space is "ec.europa.eu".

Sites with which the Commission's departments would be associated without having adequate control of the information disseminated must use addresses outside the "ec.europa.eu" domain.

You can download templates in 24 languages on their respective pages.

The templates are now available in a responsive design.

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4.2.1. The Interinstitutional standard template

Mandatory requirementThe Interinstitutional standard template must be used for all interinstitutional EUROPA websites.

View all IPG Rules

The standard template must be used for all new development and can also be introduced on existing pages to replace a previous template. This should be done on a site basis, not on page by page bases.

The standard presentation of the EUROPA site must be respected:

  • The layout size, the header and the footer are mandatory elements for all interinstitutional EUROPA websites.
  • For the content area, there are not any special graphical or navigational constraints. The format depends on the category of EUROPA site and may be adapted for the "look and feel" of individual sites, but certain general rules must still be followed.

Interinstitutional template download

Templates in 24 languages (UTF-8 encoding) in responsive design

  • Online version: български čeština dansk Deutsch eesti keel ελληνικά English español français Gaeilge hrvatski italiano latviešu valoda lietuvių kalba magyar Malti Nederlands polski português română slovenčina slovenščina suomi svenska
  • Download version: file template-iizip contains a help file, 24 templates for Dreamweaver and HTML production, central stylesheets and JavaScript files, central images and the PSD files to create the images of the banner.
  • Documentum version: you will find instructions to use the template on CWCMS portal. This version contains additional CSS and JS files.
  • Font download: the fontzip(2 MB) to use on the identification banner.

The template is in a responsive design. This layout changes according to the size of the screen and so the same website displays well on a desktop, tablet or smartphone. More details can be found below.

Source code

The template includes all compulsory metadata to fill in. You will find more information about the compulsory metadata in the relevant metadata section.

The following stylesheets are used in the template:

1. europa.css: the central CSS for the interinstitutional template. This CSS contains HTML reset, layout, template 2013 (desktop first), default values for desktop, font-size rules for desktop, <=768 pixel mode, <=600 pixel mode, <=320 pixel mode, printer layout and presentation of multilingual links via a language icon that will trigger a pop-up window displaying the available languages.

2. europa-content.css: This contains styles for the default menu and viewport width thresholds as well as some basic PST presentation elements.

The template provides an additional style sheet that should be used if you implement the optional additional tool "Toggle high contrast".

3. europa-high-contrast.css: this optional CSS is not referenced centrally and you should save it in your local style sheet folder. It proposes a high contrast version for your site, but you must test it for all your custom components.

The Documentum version of the template contains an additional style sheet:

4. europa-components-only.css: This style sheet contains only the CSS rules related to the PST components (such as Media Player, Slideshow, etc.). Those rules are applied only when JavaScript support is enabled in the browser.

These files can be both used in the Dreamweaver and HTML versions of the template to add the extra Documentum functionalities. These files are constantly updated to add new features. Check the CWCMS portal to see whether you are using the latest version.

There is also the possibility to include your own stylesheets in the Head section. These custom CSS should not overwrite the mandatory elements of the template.

The JavaScript file 'europa.js' manages:

  • Mobile sniffer: The mobile sniffer allows the detection of the “userAgent” of mobile devices.
  • DOM and Events management tools: Tools like “ready” and “addEvent” for Web masters.
  • Accessibility menu for mobile devices: Menu providing keyboard-based navigation menu.
  • Language Selector: Tools to convert the Language Selector component from noscript mode to dynamic mode.
  • Lazy loader: Mechanism which dynamically downloads the “ec-mobile.js” script when mobile mode is enabled.
  • Additional tools implementation: Functions behind the additional tools like font-increase, font-decrease, ...
  • Coverage: Implementation of the Multiple Language Coverage feature for desktop mode.

An additional file, 'europa-mobile.js', implements the language coverage feature for mobile mode. The script is automatically included when mobile mode is detected.

The Documentum version of the template contains an extra 'europa-components.js' JavaScript file with additional functionalities managing components such as Slideshow, Media Gallery and more. This file calls other JavaScript files on the fly whenever needed.

This file can be used in the Dreamweaver and HTML versions of the template to add the extra Documentum functionalities. This file is constantly updated to add new features. Check the CWCMS portal to see whether you are using the latest version.

There is also the possibility to include custom JavaScript files in the Head section.

The template is translated into 24 languages. Here is the list of all translated labelsexcel8book(200 kB) Choose translations of the previous link .

Visual description

Visual description 1. Title tag 2. Layout 3. Header 4. Service tools 5. Language selection tool 6. Identification banner 7. Right image 8. Search field 9. Navigation path 10. Additional tools 11. Footer Visual description
  1. Title tag of the page is mandatory.
  2. The layout has a mandatory maximum width of 984 px.
  3. The header is mandatory.
  4. Service tools - There are two mandatory services: 'Legal notice' and 'Contact' and they must be aligned in that order to the right. The other services are optional. The service tools are repeated in the footer (see below).
  5. Language selection tool is mandatory.
  6. Identification banner is mandatory.
  7. The right image colour gradient can be customised.
  8. Search field is mandatory.
  9. Navigation path is mandatory.
  10. Additional tools are optional.
  11. Footer's elements are mandatory: the 'Last update', 'Top link' and the service tools.

Title tag

The "Title" tag is critical and must be present on all pages. It is mandatory to include a descriptive title because:

  • It clearly identifies a page.
  • It is used by search engines for indexing, searching and presenting lists of results.
  • It is used for the bookmarks/favourites.

It is therefore the "label" used to identify and recognise a page.

It must always take form "EUROPA – Page title" in the language of the page.

Detailed information on how to write title tags.

The template has a fixed maximum width of 984 px.

The template proposes 4 different layouts for the content area that are managed via the div "layout":

  1. in 3 columns by default
  2. left navigation and content displayed
  3. content and right navigation displayed
  4. only one column

Header dimensions

  • Colour background:
    • Banner: white
    • Service tools: grade color from #dbe4e7 to #e2eaed, to transparent
    • Bottom banner (path border): thin blue line #83b5c1
    • Navigation path: pale background #e9eff3
  • Size:
    • Height: 105 px
    • Width: maximum size of 984 px is mandatory.
    • Services height: 20 px
    • Banner title: 450 x 46 px
    • Right image: 400 x 68 px
    • Path height: 17 px
    • Non-JavaScript linguistic navigation: 15 px
    • Search field: 190 x 26 px
  • The identification banner is mandatory and must be present on all pages. Together with the navigation path, it indicates the logical position of the page in EUROPA architecture.
  • Right image is a colour gradient that can be customised according to the site.
  • Image formats:
    • Banner title image: GIF with white background
    • Right image: 24-bit PNG to preserve the transparency (a transparent GIF in case of Internet Explorer 6)
  • There is a Photoshop file for each image in the downloadable template:
    • title_1line.psd: site title in one line
    • title_2line.psd: site title in two lines to include a subtitle
    • header-background.psd: customizable right image

Service tools

A "service tool" helps the user to find the information he/she is looking for by a variety of means: contacting the webmaster, consulting the alphabetical index, using the search engine, checking a list of useful links ...

It is important to include links to service tools in a consistent way because:

  • Users must be able to find the same service tools available on all pages.
  • Consistent use of the same presentation of the tools simplifies navigation.

The services offered on a site should be as specific as possible to the subject of the site. If a local index is available, it will be more useful than the general EUROPA index, for instance.

A set of standard links to general or specific services must be present on all pages both in the header and in the footer.

Three services are mandatory: "Contact", "Cookies" and "Legal notice". They must be present on all pages:

  • The "Contact" service should, as a minimum, provide a link to a functioning email address, but it may also point to a page setting out further information on the various possible contacts. This service tool may not point to a central page on EUROPA.
  • The "Cookies" service should link to a local cookie notice page where in plain jargon-free language the user is informed on how and for which purpose the website uses each cookie, how consent can be withdrawn, etc. If the site uses the same cookies as the central cookie notice page, a link can be done to it. In case the site does not use any cookie, this local cookie notice page should just mention this. A template is available to create this site-specific cookie notice pagezip(236 kB).
  • The "Legal notice" service should point to the Legal notice page which contains information about Disclaimer, Copyright notice and Personal Data Protection. It must be present in all pages. The legal notice defines the limits of responsibility, and draws attention to the copyright restrictions of EUROPA. It is a legal requirement to display it at the top of every page.
    If the page or any part of the page requires a specific legal notice not available in the templates or in the list of legal notices, then a new one may be created. New legal notices must be approved by the Legal Service and be formatted in the same way as existing one.

Several optional services or elements may be included. A set of additional standard services is proposed in the complete template. The language versions appropriate to the page must be used and the links must point to service tools in the same language as the page itself.

The following table indicates the list of available standard services in order from right to left as implemented on the template. It explains the aim of each service and the possible associated links.

Service tool

Description

Use

Link

Contact

Contact details: at least e-mail of the webmaster but any other relevant contact point may be added (always use functional e-mail addresses!).

Mandatory

Link to a functional (and not personal) e-mail address or to the site's Contact page.

Cookies

Cookie notice page explaining the use of cookies of the specific website.

Mandatory

Link to a local cookies policy page where available, if not, a link to http://europa.eu/cookies/index_en.htm must be used.

Legal notice

The legal notice defines the limits of responsibility and draws attention to the copyright restrictions of EUROPA. It is a legal requirement to display it at the top of every page.

Mandatory

Link to http://europa.eu/geninfo/legal_notices_en.htm or to a specific legal notice if needed.

What's new or New on EUROPA

Announcement of new pages, sections, services, etc. of the site (not the same as a "news" section where press releases, etc. are uploaded.)

Optional

"What's new" should be linked to a local page. If the local page is not available, it should be renamed to "New on EUROPA" and be linked to http://europa.eu/geninfo/whatsnew_en.htm

About this site

General presentation of the site with possible mention of its author, its aim, its target audience, the statistics on consultation, etc.

Optional

Link to a local page where available, if not, link to http://europa.eu/abouteuropa/index_en.htm

Site map

Indicates the structure of a website.

Optional

Link to a local page where available, if not, link to http://europa.eu/geninfo/sitemap_en.htm

A-Z Index

A "table of contents" in alphabetical order

Optional

Link to a local page where available, if not, link to http://europa.eu/geninfo/atoz/en/index_1_en.htm

Accessibility

Accessibility policy and help features of the site

Optional

Link to a local page where available, if not, link to http://europa.eu/geninfo/accessibility_policy_en.htm

Language selection tool is mandatory and must be present on all pages (even if the page exists in only one language). The language selection tool provides the only means of horizontal navigation between languages. It also provides an indication of which language versions of the page exist.

The tool is available in 2 formats:

JavaScript

Language selector with JavaScript

In this case, a drop-down window is presented containing all the available languages (and only those) and showing the language of the document presented. The templates contain the code for presenting 24 languages and must be adapted according to the existing language availability for the actual page.

Non JavaScript

Language selector without JavaScript

In this case, the available languages are presented in text form using the ISO codes for languages. The position of the codes should be as indicated in the templates under the service tool. The JavaScript version includes the non-JavaScript version, which will be applied automatically if the browser is not JavaScript enabled. It is not compulsory to use the JavaScript version.

Identification banner

  • On the left hand side, the banner should contain the European flag with words europa.eu under it. The flag and words are clickable and lead to europa.eu homepage. To the right of the flag the banner should contain the site name.
  • The site name should be in the same language as the content of the page.
  • The site name is closely linked to its URL allocation. Following the site typology, the name is determined by the name of the policy, priority, service ... of the site.
  • A subtitle can be added to the main title of the site.
  • In general, use common sense and make sure the title is clear for the majority of readers (experts and non-experts).
  • The text uses the following font:
    • Principal font title: Daxline Pro Bold 35 px (allows approximately 34 characters), black.
    • Optional subtitle: Daxline Pro Bold 24 px (allows approximately 60 characters), grey.
  • The text should always be vertically centred in relation to the flag.
  • Format: GIF with white background.

Right image

The right image is a colour gradient that can be customised to reflect the mood of the site according to the colour palette provided in the PSD file 'header-background.psd'. These background images are already available on the ZIP file in PNG and GIF formats.

You may choose from these colours:

Palette

Only in case of campaign sites may the right image be modified to include motives or pictures.

Format: 24-bit PNG to preserve the transparency (plus a transparent GIF in case of Internet Explorer 6).

Search field

The header contains on its right hand side a mandatory search field. The search box uses the EUROPA search engine to perform queries on the EUROPA domain.

You should customize this interface to perform local search on your website:
How to create a customised interface to the EUROPA Search engine.

In case you use your own search engine, this local search page must offer a link to the EUROPA main "Search" page.

The search field may be used with an optional link to "Advanced search" only in cases of sites that function as search databases, such as Rapid. The text "Advanced search" must use text colour with accessible contrast ratio compared to the background colour provided by the right image.

Advanced search

Navigation path

A set of links to higher-level pages is mandatory and must be present on all pages.

It is important to include navigation path links because:

  • They locate a user's position in the structure of EUROPA. This is particularly useful for a user who has arrived at a page directly from an external link, bookmark/favourite, or a search engine, and has not navigated there through other EUROPA pages.
  • They provide an easy and clear way to return to the upper levels.

Page path indicates the last relevant upper level of the current site. It should start with EUROPA following the name of the site.

If the path is too long, part of it can be replaced with the character string "...", e.g. 'EUROPA > Lisbon Treaty > ... > Programs > Seminars'. The entry 'EUROPA' must always be present, as well as the first upper level.

The last entry (the current page) should not be clickable.

One should use a logical, descriptive path name, in the appropriate language, not the physical directory name. The navigation path should always be as exhaustive and as accurate as possible.

The links must point to upper level pages in the same language as the page itself.

The additional tools allow for adding extra functionalities to the site. They are placed under the header on the right hand side. All Additional tools are optional.

Print icon

The print icon Print icon allows printing the current page. Print style is integral part of the 'europa.css' file.

Font resizing buttons

The template integrates a font resizing feature in buttons: Resizing button decrease Resizing button increase. This element is used to make the web page more accessible for a person who is partially sighted, by allowing the user to increase or decrease font size. A session cookie stores the font size settings during its session.

Toggle high contrast icon

High contract icon High contrast icon allows the user to switch to and from high contrast mode. To implement this tool, your site must include also the optional CSS 'europa-hi-contrast.css' in its local style sheet folder and adapt your custom CSS rules to suit your site. The template allows to add several alternate CSS. A session cookie stores the contrast settings during its session.

RSS icon

RSS icon RSS icon provides the user with the possibility to subscribe to the site's RSS feed.

Share icon

Share button Share button provides means of sharing the page via social media.

Footer

The footer is a mandatory element providing space for optional additional horizontal navigation within the same site or for repeating navigation links already present elsewhere (e.g. alternatives for links which use images or buttons or for image maps). It also contains as mandatory elements the 'Last update' date, 'Top', and 'Service tools'. The service tools (see section 4) are also in the footer. They should be identical to the items in the services tool of the header.

The footer must be aligned to the left below the page body as in the template.

In case a site uses cookies that require informed consent, the site should implement the cookie consent kit (display a header banner and prevent prior storage of cookies) and declare all cookies in the cookie notice page.

Cookie consent example

  1. The cookie header banner displayed on all pages of a site using cookies that require informed consent. This layout is mandatory.
  2. Link to the cookie notice page.
  3. This element of the page will only display its content once the user chooses to accept the site's cookies.

Responsive design

At three defined widths (called 'breakpoints'), the layout changes and displays the content best suited to the device.

These breakpoints correspond to a large tablet (768 pixels), a medium sized screen (600 pixels) and a smartphone in portrait (320 pixels). Between these breakpoints, the layout continues to change to fit the screen size. This approach ensures that the website looks good on any screen size.

The responsive template adapts the header, menu and footer. In addition, you will have to adapt the style sheets and content of your current site as well. The CWCMS section contains a detailed migration guidepdf Choose translations of the previous link  and these pages will be developed to provide further help.

Adapting an existing website has to be carefully planned and attention should be paid to the following:

  • Elements (images, tables etc) cannot have fixed widths
  • Navigation is limited to three levels
  • Hover/mouseover actions should not contain critical information

Read more about responsive design and its implications.

Changes at the 768 pixel breakpoint

The template changes in the following way on screens of 768 pixels and less:

The template on screens of 768 pixels and less

  • Service tools in header is hidden
  • Title and subtitle appear in white part of banner. The text displayed uses the HTML code so make sure this information is correct.
  • 'Menu' button appears and left navigation is hidden. Selecting 'Menu' displays the navigation, Second and third levels of navigation do not appear under the 'Menu' button but directly at the top of the page content with the help text 'Browse section'.
  • 'Search' button replaces search field.
  • Font resize and additional tools are hidden (because touchscreen devices provide alterntiave methods to resize font, share information etc.)
  • Service tools in the footer becomes easier to select on a touchscreen device.

Changes at the 600 and 320 pixel breakpoints

The template changes in the following way on screens of 600 pixels and less:

The template on screens of 600 pixels and less

  • Service tools in header is hidden
  • Title and subtitle appear in white part of banner. The text displayed uses the HTML code so make sure this information is correct. For screens of 320 pixels, the text is further reduced in size.
  • Navigation path is hidden,
  • 'Home' button appears. This must link to the home page of the website and the not the main European Commission home page.
  • 'Menu' button appears and left navigation is hidden. Selecting 'Menu' displays the navigation, Second and third levels of navigation do not appear under the 'Menu' button but directly at the top of the page content with the help text 'Browse section'.
  • 'Search' button replaces search field.
  • Font resize and additional tools are hidden (because touchscreen devices provide alternative methods to resize font, share information etc.)
  • Right column (if present) appears after the middle column.
  • Service tools in the footer becomes easier to select on a touchscreen device.
Top

4.2.2. The Commission standard template

Mandatory requirement The Commission standard template must be used for all European Commission websites.

The template is in responsive design.

 

View all IPG Rules

The standard template must be used for all new development and can also be introduced on existing pages to replace a previous template. This should be done on a site basis, not on page by page bases.

The standard presentation of the Commission's site must be respected:

  • The layout size, the header and the footer are mandatory elements for all Commission websites.
  • For the content area, there are not any special graphical or navigational constraints, except for the use of the font Verdana for all typographical elements. The format depends on the category of Commission’s site and may be adapted for the "look and feel" of individual sites, but certain general rules must still be followed.

Commission template download in responsive design

Templates in 24 languages (UTF-8 encoding) in responsive design

  • Online version: български čeština dansk Deutsch eesti keel ελληνικά English español français Gaeilge hrvatski italiano latviešu valoda lietuvių kalba magyar Malti Nederlands polski português română slovenčina slovenščina suomi svenska
  • Download version: the file template-eczip contains: a help file, 24 templates for Dreamweaver and HTML production, central style sheets and JavaScript files, central images and the PSD files to create the images of the banner.
  • Documentum version: you will find the instructions to use the template on CWCMS portal. This version contains additional CSS and JS files.
  • Font download: the fontzip to use on the identification banner.

The template is in a responsive design. This layout changes according to the size of the screen and so the same website displays well on a desktop, tablet or smartphone. More details can be found below.

Source code

The template includes all compulsory metadata to fill in. You will find more information about the compulsory metadata in the relevant metadata section.

The following stylesheets are used in the template:

1. ec.css: the central CSS for the Commission template. This CSS contains HTML reset, layout, template 2013 (desktop first), default values for desktop, font-size rules for desktop, <=768 pixel mode, <=600 pixel mode, <=320 pixel mode, printer layout andpresentation of multilingual links via a language icon that will trigger a popup window displaying the available languages.

2. ec-content.css: This contains styles for the default menu and viewport width thresholds as well as some basic PST presentation elements.The Documentum version of the template contains an additional style sheet:

3. ec-components-only.css: This style sheet contains only the CSS rules related to the PST components (such as Media Player, Slideshow, etc.). Those rules are applied only when JavaScript support is enabled in the browser.

These files can be both used in the Dreamweaver and HTML versions of the template to add the extra Documentum functionalities. These files are constantly updated to add new features. Check the CWCMS Portal to see whether you are using the latest version.

There is also the possibility to include your own style sheets in the head section. These custom CSS should not overwrite the mandatory elements of the template.

The JavaScript file 'ec.js' manages:

  • Mobile sniffer: The mobile sniffer allows the detection of the “userAgent” of mobile devices.
  • DOM and Events management tools: Tools like “ready” and “addEvent” for Web masters.
  • Accessibility menu for mobile devices: Menu providing keyboard-based navigation menu.
  • Language Selector: Tools to convert the Language Selector component from noscript mode to dynamic mode.
  • Lazy loader: Mechanism which dynamically downloads the “ec-mobile.js” script when mobile mode is enabled.
  • Additional tools implementation: Functions behind the additional tools like font-increase, font-decrease, ...
  • Coverage: Implementation of the Multiple Language Coverage feature for desktop mode.

An additional file, 'ec-mobile.js', implements the language coverage feature for mobile mode. The script is automatically included when mobile mode is detected.

The Documentum version of the template contains an extra 'ec-components.js' JavaScript file with additional functionalities managing components such as Slideshow, Media Gallery and more. This file calls other JavaScript files on the fly whenever needed.

The file can be used in the Dreamweaver and HTML versions of the template to add the extra Documentum functionalities. This file is constantly updated to add new features. Check the CWCMS Portal to see whether you are using the latest version.

There is also the possibility to include custom JS files in the head section.

The template is translated into 24 languages. This is the list of all translated labelsexcel8book(200 kB) Choose translations of the previous link .

top 

Visual description

Visual description 1. Title tag 4. Service tools 5. Language selection tool 6. Identification banner 7. Navigation path 8. Additional tools 9. Footer Visual description
  1. Title tag of the page is mandatory.
  2. The layout has a mandatory maximum width of 984 px. The font Verdana is mandatory for all typographical elements within the page.
  3. The header is mandatory.
  4. Service tools - There are three mandatory services: 'Legal notice', 'Contact' and 'Search' and they must be aligned in that order to the right. The other services are optional. The service tools are repeated in the footer (see below).
  5. Language selection tool is mandatory.
  6. Identification banner is mandatory.
  7. Navigation path is mandatory.
  8. Additional tools are optional (Font resizing buttons, 'Print the page').
  9. Footer's elements are mandatory: the 'Last update', 'Top link' and the service tools.

Title tag image

The "Title" tag is critical and must be present on all pages. It is mandatory to include a descriptive title because:

  • It clearly identifies a page.
  • It is used by search engines for indexing, searching and presenting lists of results
  • It is used for the bookmarks/favourites.

It is therefore the "label" used to identify and recognise a page.

It must always take form "Title of the page - European Commission" in the language of the page.

Detailed information on how to write title tags.

The template has a fixed maximum width of 984 px.

The template proposes 4 different layouts for the content area that are managed via the <div> "layout":

  1. in 3 columns by default
  2. left navigation and content displayed
  3. content and right navigation displayed
  4. only one column

The font Verdana must be used for all typographical elements within the page.

Header description

  • Colour background:
    • Banner: white and blue #0065a2
    • Service tools: white
    • Path: blue line
  • Size:
    • Height: 145 px
    • Width: maximum size of 984 px is mandatory
    • Services height: 20 px
    • European Commission logo: 172 px x 119 px
    • Banner title: 984 px × 145 px
    • Path height: 20 px
    • Non JavaScript linguistic navigation: 17 px
  • The identification banner is mandatory and must be present on all pages. Together with the navigation path, it indicates the logical position of the page in EUROPA architecture.
  • Image formats
    • European Commission logo: transparent GIF