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NC Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Public Affairs

Website Style Guide:
Chapter 5: Comprehensive DHHS Redesign Site

5.1 Intentions-Based Design

The NC DHHS Comprehensive Redesigned Website will have an "intentions-based" design. Content is written to allow site visitors to accomplish tasks.  Intentions-based design recognized that people come to the web with needs to fulfill. A young mother wants to know if her family is eligible for food stamps. A state employee looks for contacts. A county health department manager needs statistics on a certain program. A business owner needs to know the rules and procedures for licensing a nursing home.

Organizing content based on the audience’s needs is considered a best practice for managing a website, according to federal government usability experts.

If you have information to post on the site, consider (1) who needs the information, and (2) why they need it.

The website has nine main topic areas:

  • The first six are related to the services we provide to NC residents: Children and Youth, Families and Adults, Older Adults, Health, Medicaid, Disability Issues.
  • Two are cross-program or cross-division topics for non-public audiences: Government and Partners and Providers.
  • One is Facts and Figures, where statistics for all programs will be compiled, as well as press releases and high interest publications.


5.2 DHHS Web Templates

The DHHS Comprehensive Redesign Website is being built with Dreamweaver templates. This slide show depicts the main elements of the template.

5.3 Preparation to Use the DHHS Web Template

5.3.1. Develop Charter

  • Identify the purpose, goals, audience and tasks of the website:
  • Kickoff meeting
  • Write charter (see attached outline in PDF format (73KB) (or in Word format (46KB)
    • Identify audiences
    • For each audience, define main tasks (Consider conducting a survey, examining phone records, and/or examining current site statistics.)
    • Draft website outline
    • Determine URL (if it changes, place a notice on current website)
    • Discuss special functionality needs

Checkpoint: Website Charter approved by the Division Web Content Manager and DHHS Web Manager, and filed with the Division Director.

2. Write Content

Organize the material, choose navigation labels, and create “wireframes” in Microsoft Word that contain navigation and content.

  • Finalize outline
  • Examine current directory structure and determine whether to change. If so, create a plan to redirect files.
  • Reframe current content according to tasks
  • Identify and weed out useless content
  • Write or rewrite content, in wireframe format, according to audience and tasks (use style guide)
  • Select images and documents
  • Consider changing labeling on current site to match redesigned site, to ease users into the redesign

Checkpoint: Wireframes for site created and approved with a Publication Review Form (PA-2 signed by the Division Director, the Public Affairs Specialist and the DHHS Web Manager.

3. Build Site

  • Create and prepare graphics
  • Build site in new templates. (For larger websites, roll out audience by audience.)
  • Usability test(s) with key target audience(s). Revise as necessary.
  • Publish site.
  • Put redirects in place.

Checkpoint: PA-2 form signed by Division Director, Public Affairs Specialist and DHHS Web Manager.

4. Maintain and Refine Website

  • Develop a maintenance plan, to include content review cycles for each page type.
  • Consider further analysis: surveys, usability tests, statistical analysis

Checkpoint: Submit maintenance plan to DHHS Web Manager

5.4 URL Guidance

The department home URL is

It is easier to market our programs and services using short web addresses (URLs). You may obtain a variation of the DHHS URL with the following procedure, which provides you with an "alias". This alias website address works, and the actual website address continues to work.

You do not have to wait until your site is redesigned to obtain an alias.

  1. Choose an alias. The DHHS policy, “Public Websites in DHHS,” spells out website address conventions for the department. “The address construction for subsites (primarily a program or service) is For example, or The URL construction for divisions [and other organizational units] is”
  2. Alias Approval from Division/Office Management: Obtain management signoff for the alias.
  3. Alias Approval from Public Affairs: Send management approval to Public Affairs (Lois Nilsen) and request Public Affairs approval.
  4. DNS Service: Public Affairs will request DNS service on the domain and will notify you when that has been obtained.  
  5. Redirection (do one of the following):
    1. For sites that are or will be hosted at ITS, requests for or will need to point to the location of the content. Request a redirect to the actual web site/content associated with the alias(es). Sample request for a site currently hosted by ITS: "To Please point requests for '' and ‘’ to ‘” OR
    2. For sites not hosted at ITS, communicate with the server administrator to obtain the IP address for the website and include the IP address with the request for the new aliases.
      Sample request:  Please add the following aliases to [your domain], pointing to [insert IP address; e.g.]. 1. , 2.
      Work with the server administrator to determine if any further action is needed, such as a virtual redirect to content.

5.6.2 Division and Office URLs

The convention for division home page addresses is as follows:



Divisions with website addresses in other formats can obtain a URL when they are incorporated into the redesign website, or they can obtain it sooner.

Changing a URL can be tricky. Some effort should be made to contact websites that link to the site and request a change to the new URL. Still, old URLs should not be phased out in any hurry. That is, both the new and the old website address should work for some time to come.

Divisions with website addresses that do not follow the convention must make an effort to publicize the DHHS home page address on all publications. That is, where the division home page address is printed on a publication, also include the home page of the department. For example, DPH publications should refer to both and

5.6.3 Websites that are not Division Home Pages

Current websites that will be eventually incorporated into the comprehensive redesign site should make no change in URL until they are incorporated.

Current websites that will remain separate (that is, "branded" sites per the DHHS Policy on Public Websites) should make an effort to obtain a .GOV address.  Such website addresses require DHHS secretary and state CIO approval before being proposed to federal authorities at

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