State Portal and Web Resources

Website Development

Developing a robust website can be a big undertaking for agencies because of the resources needed to plan, build, and maintain a site. However, this investment is necessary because websites are now a primary - if not the primary - channel citizens use to interact with government.

Before developing a website, there are a few key state laws and standards that need to be considered.

  1. Web Development Standard - This standard outlines a number of basic requirement for all agency websites. Most notably, it requires all websites to implement the official nd.gov banner.
  2. North Dakota Century Code 54-59-22  - NDCC 54-59-22 requires state agencies to host their websites "through a delivery system established by the information technology department."
  3. Web Domain Name Standard - This standard requires that state agency websites utilize the nd.gov domain name. The .gov domain is controlled by the federal government and reserved for government use. Utilizing this domain gives users confidence they are interacting with a government, not commercial, organization, and is in line with FBI recommendations to consumers to avoid .com domains when attempting to find government websites.

Agencies have a number of options when choosing who they want to develop their site.

  1. Custom site from ITD - ITD offers a range of website-related services, including graphic design and web development. Our preferred Content Management System is Drupal. ITD provides, at no cost, six hours of analysis time to gather basic customer requirements and produce a cost estimate. Whether or not agencies ultimately use ITD to build their website, comprehensive analysis and technical expertise make talking with the ITD developers a great starting point.
  2. State Website Platform - The State Website Platfrom was developed to address design, accessibility, cost, and security issues at an enterprise level. It allows agencies to get full-featured websites without any upfront development cost. For $35/mo, agencies are given a website template that they can customize on their own. The monthly fee also covers the cost of website hosting, security patches, and ongoing enhancements. Every time the website platform is enhanced, every site on the platform also receives those enhancements for no additional cost. 
  3. IT Professional Services Contract Pool (095) - The state has established a term contract for vendors in this pool, allowing agencies to forgo the RFP process. Agencies should focus on vendors in the web designer category. To access the IT services contract pool and the work order process instructions, view the list of current state contracts and select "Information Technology Professional Services Contract Pool."
  4. Standard Procurement - If neither of the options above meet agencies needs, agencies may follow the state's standard procurement process.

Accessibility Laws and Guidelines

Web accessibility broadly refers to the ability of people with disabilities to use websites and related electronic resources, such as images, videos, and documents. The Americans with Disabilities act of 1990 is the primary law applicable to state and local government. Title II of the act requires that “each service, program, or activity… is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.” It does not go on to set specific criteria by which an electronic resource, such as a PDF or website, is to be deemed accessible.

Agencies should comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA. This aligns with North Dakota’s Web Development Best Practices, as set by by North Dakota's Enterprise Architecture program, which sets state standards and best practices.

Accessibility requires effort on the part of website developers, website content administers, and forms designers. During the procurement process, agencies should clearly define which accessibility criteria they want a vendor to develop to. This would typically be WCAG 2.1 Level AA. Federal programs must also adhere to Section 508 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which does specify sixteen rules for web-based content. In general, WCAG 2.1 Level AA is more comprehensive than current Section 508 requirements, meaning that if you are WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliant, you are also likely Section 508 compliant.

Note that the above information is designed to provide high-level guidance. Consult with your legal council and application/website developers to clarify the requirements for your projects.

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