World Wide Web Guidelines for USNA

For Webmasters :

  • There is a list-serve for USNA Web masters :

    • share resources - editors, graphics packages, etc
    • mechanism to alert masters about security issues
    • create forum to find solutions to HTML development problems

  • There is a Webmasters Resource Page that contains information about development tools and assistance with HTML questions. The pages can be found at

  • Have regularly scheduled meetings.

For Page Developers :

Requirements :

  • Observe Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, and USNA policies, summarized below:
    1. Pages must be mission related.
    2. Pages must be tasteful and in compliance with USNA Ethics and Honor Codes.
    3. Pages must not contain Classified, Sensitive, or Privacy Act data.
    4. Pages must not use copyrighted material without permission.
    5. Pages must not contain advertising or solicitations.
    6. Pages must not imply government approval, endorsement, or preferential treatment of commercial products.
    7. Web sites developed and/or maintained by contractors may not include the contractor's name or may they link to the contractor's web site.
    8. Pages may not contain "Best viewed with ( insert your favorite browser )" or "This site developed with ( insert your favorite development tool )" endorsements.
    9. Information must be professionally presented.
    10. Each page must contain POC information.
    11. Pages must not collect visitor information without a visitor's knowledge.
    12. Pages must be compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
    13. New : Publicly available pages may not contain "personnel directories, command directories, detailed organization charts, or phone lists that provide personally identifying information". In other words, no department lists of faculty and staff will be available outside of the USNA community.

  • How to summarize "Classified, Sensitive, or Privacy Act data" :
    1. Pages may not contain Classified, For Official Use Only, or Unclassified Sensitive Information. Do not publish information what will compromise national security or place DoD personnel at risk.
    2. Pages may not contain DoD contractor proprietary information
    3. Pages may not contain Privacy Act information
    4. Pages may not contain sensitive mission data, such as unit capabilities or performance, movement of military assets, or unit location
    5. Pages may not contain Social Security Numbers
    6. Pages may not contain Midshipmen Alpha Codes
    7. Web sites will not identify family members of the Department of the Navy personnel in any way, nor will family member information be included in any biographies or photos posted to the web.
    8. Pages may not contain home addresses, private phone numbers, or private email account names
    9. Pages may not contain date of birth
    10. Pages may not contain itineraries
    11. New : Pages may not contain aerial photographs of the Academy.
    12. New : Pages may not contain tours of the Academy or buildings.

  • The entry page for a particular sub-site of the USNA WWW Project should contain the name and an e-mail address of its Point of Contact. If visitors have a question for the Admissions Department, they should be able to directly identify and email the author of the Admissions Department page.

  • At the very least, provide a link back to the USNA Home Page from the sub-site entry page.

  • Provide a link back to the entry page for a particular sub-site of the USNA WWW Project. For example, every page associated with the Nimitz Library web site should contain a link back to the Nimitz Library Home Page.

  • The entry page for a department must contain POC information. This information may or may not be visible to the viewer, but must be contained within the page HTML.  For example, the home page for the English Department should contain POC information, but it is not necessary for every page in the English Department to contain POC information.

  • Each page should contain Date Last Modified information out of courtesy. In a addition, a "What's New" section might be nice, as well.

  • When in doubt as to if information should be released to the general public, run it past the JAG office or PAO. Information can be restricted by the use of an .htaccess file. See instructions for help.

  • If you are pointing to sites off the Yard, include a disclaimer on the page :

    The following links are to sites that are not located at the United States Naval Academy. The USNA is not responsible for the content found on these sites. In addition, the content of these sites does not reflect the opinions, standards, policy or endorsement of the Naval Academy or the United States Government.

    Another method, is to use a CGI script to tell the user that they are leaving USNA. See instructions for help.

    Note : These external sites must support the mission of the Naval Academy and not imply endorsement.

  • If you are developing a page for an athletic team, please coordinate with NAAA. In addition to blending in with the NAAA design, you will want to be sure that your pages conform to NCAA rules.

  • Employment Announcements should be authorized and released from the Human resources Department. Let HRD create the announcement with all of the appropriate employment information; then link from your pages back to the HRD announcement.

  • Pages may not contain "Best viewed with ( insert your favorite browser )" or "This site developed with ( insert your favorite development tool )" endorsements.

  • Information and links should be confined to your professional area. There is no need to define USNA 22 separate times or ways. Your page should pertain to the topic at hand. The English Department should not contain pointers to Chemisty type of information. The English Department webmaster should tell the Chemistry Department webmaster about the pointer and let it go at that.

  • Do not bury ECA pages down in personal homepages or inside the pages of other ECAs. For example, there was a time when the Marine Corp Page was down inside the Weapons Page; visitors won't be able to find the information !

  • USNA has an educational mission where unclassified dissertations or professional papers may be published on the Web for the purpose of peer review. The following disclaimer for exchange of professional information and ideas among scientists, physicians, or educators, must be displayed :

    "Material contained herein is made available for the purpose of peer review and discussion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Navy or the Department of Defense."

  • Once your site is up and operational, send a very brief note to so that the appropriate information can be entered into the USNA Site Index page.
Design & Style Considerations :

  • Avoid Clutter on the homepages of new sections, such as Departments. Spread information out a bit and have some whitespace. Keep the opening page to 1 or 2 screens.

  • Have uniformity in the top levels, but allow individual departments flexibility. It is recommended that the department maintains design and navigating uniformity within the department web site.

  • Design should be driven from the least common denominator. What technology sits on the desk of your intended audience ?

  • Be sure to use the <TITLE> tag. This provides the title of the page at the top of the browser page and appears in most print jobs. The contents of the <TITLE> tag will be displayed in the Search results.

  • Pages should be completely functional with graphics turned off.

  • Use the <ALT> tag in images. If you are waiting for a 'slow' page, at least your visitor can see the selections if the <ALT> tag is used.

  • Be smart about using META TAGS for search engine use. See instructions for help.

  • It is not encouraged to use non-standard, vendor-specific HTML constructs. While producing very attractive output, some of these features may not display your pages as you intend, or even at all. A balance must be struck between creativity, good human interface design, and standard HTML.

  • If you decide to employ a background image in one of your pages, the background image requires two connects to the server, not just one. In addition, the size of the image can be a factor. This will slow down the presentation of your pages.

  • When using graphics, consider that your audience maybe using a slow modem and an older PC. Create small, clickable images so that your page can download quickly, but give the viewer the opportunity to grab the larger image is they want it. Avoid grossly huge images, those 50k and larger in size.

  • Image maps can be a real problem :
    1. If done properly, there is a double presentation of information; ie, an image plus textual options for the non-graphical options. Adds to page clutter and loading speed.
    2. If done improperly, the user has no options while the page loads.
    3. To update is time consuming and requires well written documentation for multiple maintainers. For example, If I have a beautiful navigation bar that needs updating, I have to know the graphics packages, font types, colors, and re-map coordinates to install or de-install a new option. Think about the person that will be developing/maintaining the pages after you !

    An alternative is to use tables, small graphic buttons, and the proper use of the ALT construct. Options will always be present for your visitors and updating is less painful. Continue with the broken-link searches.

  • Be careful when selecting foreground text color and background colors/images. There are terrible combinations that rendered information unreadable. Keep in mind people that visitors might be color blind or have "older eyes" when considering type size and color.

  • When selecting foreground text color and background color, attempt to print the page to a printer. See if the text is readable. Your intent is to place information into your visitor's possession.

  • Avoid cutesy graphical images that represent a function. Why make the user learn "your language" ? Make the buttons' function clear.

  • We do not encourage or support the use of Counters.
    1. They don't always work.
    2. They create a delay...when they work.
    3. A number have gone commercial - something that DoD sites need to be cautious about.
    4. What's the point, anyway ? Is your counter being used as a management tool or a trophy to the world : "Hey, we've received a bizillion hits !" What about the page that provides critical information but only receives a fraction of the hits than a page that is pure fluff. Avoid the quality vs quantity issue.

  • We do not encourage or support the use of marquees.
    1. Marquees are discouraged by Section 508.
    2. Why compete with yourself ? You are already presenting information on your page. If the marquee information is important, then put it on the page.
    3. Marquees render the dialogue box unusable. Visitors like seeing where a URL is pointing, or how large a graphic file is that is coming in, or what a button definition is for the tools that are being used.
    4. Marguees are not supported by all browsers.

  • We do not encourage or support the use of frames.
    1. They are hard to create and maintain.
    2. Some visitors have strong opinions about their difficulty.
    3. Bookmarking is very difficult.
    4. Many search engines have difficulty when indexing.
    5. Some browsers won't allow for cut & paste operations.
    6. If done poorly, frames can cause problems. There are issues with printing, frame nesting, and opening new windows.

  • If you are going to use tables to simulate frames, be careful defining the full page width. If you define at 800 pixels and the visitor's monitor is set at 600, there is a region of the page that can only be viewed by scrolling right.
resources :

Revision Date : December 18, 2002

United States Naval Academy