Web Development Standards


The University Web standards and its supporting guidelines apply to all units of the University and to all official University websites.


Web standards are designed to ensure that all new websites and web applications enhance the accessibility and quality of the University’s web presence. This document has been divided into key technical areas to assist in the planning and building of an official University website.


This document includes standards that are defined in the New Zealand Government Web Standards 2.0, which in turn are based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) by W3C.

The NZ Government Web standards are grouped in four sections: Strategy and operations, Technical, Content and design, and Legal and policy.

Conceptually the standards can be divided into technical and non-technical.

This document focuses on the technical standards:

  • When proposing or building a new website, units must ensure that any new website and web application is compliant with the content of this Web Standard
  • Before launch Units must contact ITS Group Applications who can assist in reviewing a site against the Web standard before launch
  • After launch units must conduct regular self-audits of compliance.

Web standards

Subject Web Standards
Compatible browsers

Internet Explorer 11.x, Edge.x

Firefox (latest and 3 previous versions)

Safari (latest and 3 previous versions OSX)

Chrome (latest and 3 previous versions)

Confirmation of submissions Visitors must receive an online confirmation that information they have submitted has been received, for example by displaying a “thank-you” web page.
Custom error pages A 404 or custom error page must be displayed if a visitor attempts to access a web page that is not available or does not exist
Display colour Information conveyed with colour must be available without colour:
File naming

All the file names should be in lowercase letters, be meaningful, consist of alphanumeric characters, with the correct file extensions

The name should not exceed sixty characters.

Where possible the file name should be kept simple and be one word only.

Where more than one word is required, the file name should not have spaces but separated by a dash (-). The use of underscores (_) and camel case is discouraged as they are difficult to detect once the name becomes a URL

File sizes

Adobe Acrobat PDF files, word files, PowerPoint files linked to from a web page should open in a new window and not exceed 5MB

Any image used on the website should not exceed the 80KB size limit

The combined size of the source of each page should not exceed 150KB. However exceptions to this could include pages using a Photo Gallery, Media Gallery or Google Map functionality

Folder naming

All folder names should be in lowercase letters and separate folders should be maintained for each element of the website. For example .docs or images.

Every folder should consist of a default document.

The name should not exceed twenty-five characters.

Where possible the folder name should be kept simple, consist of alphanumeric characters, and be one word only. Where more than one word is required, the file name should not have spaces but separated by a dash (-). The use of underscores (_) and camel case is discouraged as they are difficult to detect once the name become a URL.


Images need to be optimized (using a graphics program such as Adobe Photoshop) for use on the web. There are three standard file types used on the Internet:

· JPEG - used for standard photograph format.

· GIF - images with a smaller number of colours. Not be used for larger images or standard photograph format.

· PNG 8bit (256 colours) and 24bit (16m colours) – images of any size with a smaller number of colours. 24bit is best for images with gradient or transparency. Not to be used for standard photograph format.

Please refer to the File sizes section in this document.

Keyboard access All functionality of the content must be operable through a keyboard interface without requiring specific timings for individual keystrokes. This must not discourage providing mouse input or other input methods in addition to keyboard operation.
Language codes Where English is the language of the page or the language of part of the page, use the language code “en-NZ”. Where the language is Māori, use “mi”
Mark-up language

Avoid images to represent text – use text and style sheets. Please refer to the Imagery and Alternative text sections in the web guidelines

Text should be in paragraph tags.

Use a base size font across the whole website for consistency.

Lists should be marked up as <ol> or <ul>.

Elements like <blockquote> should only be used for block quotes, not for generating indented text.

HTML structural elements, such as H1 to H6, OL, and UL, should form a logical hierarchy and denote document structure, rather than custom styles. Visitors using non-visual browsers or browsers that ignore style sheets are therefore not disadvantaged.

Mobile devices

iOS 8, 9.x all Apple compatible devices

Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 - Marshmellow 6.x

Online payments All payment solutions must be reviewed and approved by ITS Operational Security before the site goes live (refer to guidelines) and must PCI compliant
PDF documents

Show the PDF version used.

If publishing in version 8 or greater, it should adhere to the Acrobat Accessibility

Screen resolution

(in pixels)

768 x 1024

1280 x 800

1680 x 1050

1366 x 768

1280 x 1024

1440 x 900

920 x 1080

920 x 1200

Security of personal information

For exchange of personal information between the website visitor and the environment hosting the University website(s), for example credit card details when making online payments or registering for an event, the hosting environment must as a minimum:

· Encrypt the transfer of personal information using Transport Layer Security (TLS) version 1.2 or above

· Use the University of Auckland’s certificate issuing provider (AusCERT) wherever possible. Where this is not possible, use certificates that have a trust chain that is available in commonly used browsers

· Not use self-signed SSL certificates

Use a University of Auckland domain name wherever possible. This helps provide end-users a level of assurance that the website is legitimate

Style sheets Sites must still work properly ie be navigable, and present information intelligibly with style sheets disabled.

Use W3C technologies when they are available, supported and appropriate for that task and is endorsed by the W3C for general use.

Two key W3C technologies are the use of HTML and Style Sheets.

Information or services in web pages or applications should be available without scripts, applets and other programmatic objects. This includes Java and JavaScript.

URL naming convention

The following structure applies depending on the relationship of the site to a faculty or service division:

www.<facultyname>.auckland.ac.nz – distinct sites with their own identity

www.<facultyname>.auckland.ac.nz/<something> or www.<something>.<facultyname>.auckland.ac.nz – department, subsection or application of an existing site

(friendly or short URL for marketing or reference purposes)

As the preferred domain name structure for departments can differ from faculty to faculty, it is recommended that a department domain name successfully resolves for structures two and three above.

Web accessibility

Compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA

WCAG 2.0 is based on four principles; perceivable, operable, understandable, robust (see web guidelines for detail)

Web browser and validation

Documents, including any web page and/or form, must be checked against published formal grammar

JPEG, GIF or PNG files for images

XHTML 1.1 - Strict or Transitional should be used and web coding should meet W3C XHTML validated standards as close as possible.

HTML5 should meet the W3C specifications in HTML5 and XHTML5

CSS2.1 – CSS code should meet W3C CSS validation validated standards as close as possible. To meet these standards the code should validate with no errors, although some “warnings” could be acceptable

RSS 2.0

UTF-8 character encoding - this is to help ensure consistency of data across government and to best enable multilingual support


The following definitions apply to this document:

Official University website(s) are websites that have been authorised by the University.

Unit(s) refers to an organisational grouping across the University and includes a faculty, or research centre or service division or UniServices.

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

Website means a location connected to the Internet that maintains one or more web pages.

Web application means any application that uses a web browser as a client.

Document management and control

Owned by: CDO
Prepared by: Web Manager, ITS
Approved by: Web Governance Board
Date approved: Nov 2013
Review date: November 2018