Procedure: Complying with EPA.gov "Look and Feel"
This procedure defines the requirement to use a standard layout for EPA’s public access webpages and Web applications so that they are published with a consistent “Look and Feel.” All public content pages or Web applications are required to use the One EPA Web look and feel. The “Look and Feel” enables each Web page to be clearly identified on EPA’s public access website as belonging to EPA and ensures that each page has the required navigational and other design elements.
The steps for requesting a waiver or exemption from using required specifications of the EPA “Look and Feel” are included in this Procedure. Even if you are granted a waiver or an exemption, you are still required to follow all Federal and EPA web requirements, such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (section 508) and compliance with the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA) (H.R.5759).
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Look and Feel: EPA's web page layout and design. The header and footer are common across all pages in the EPA website. The "Look and Feel" is created by using EPA's standard Web Content Management System (WebCMS) or the One EPA Web application template.
One EPA Web Application Template: Also referred to as the “standalone template,” it is code that sets the frame and responsive design of EPA’s look and feel for use with EPA’s web-based applications. Applications need to include all elements of the standard look and feel: headers, footers, color scheme, mandated links, etc.
Responsive Design: Design that intelligently renders content formatted specifically for the size of the viewing device. Local styles are not allowed in the WebCMS because they can break the responsive design.
Use the approved and appropriate EPA template to lay out web pages according to the "Look and Feel" specifications unless one of the exemptions applies.
The Agency standard Web Content Management System uses the standard look and feel.
- Do not create local styles.
- The allowed styles can be found at: Web Style Guide
If you have a Web application, you should use the One EPA Web Application template to display your Web content.
- Follow the instructions that come with the template as set forth on the Applications and the One EPA Web template.
EPA has established specifications for the layout of EPA's public access web pages to create a consistent “look and feel” to establish an EPA brand, and to ensure that visitors know when they are on an EPA page. The template also assures maximum readability when viewing on mobile devices. While using one consistent design across all EPA web pages is required, there are certain cases where exemptions are necessary.
The following types of pages are exempt from the "Look and Feel" specifications and require registration, but do not need a waiver:
Joint Partnership Sites:
Sites that are developed and operated in partnership with organizations outside of EPA are exempt from this procedure, provided they satisfy other EPA directives about presenting EPA information and that the URL is not on www.epa.gov or www3.epa.gov. In addition, a joint site’s design must differ enough from the standard EPA "look and feel" so that the site does not appear to have intended to use the EPA template but did it incorrectly.
Additional Steps for Partnership Sites: When beginning to design a joint site, send an email to the Office of Web Communication (OWC) at OWC@epa.gov with a brief description of the site and the planned URL. The URL should not be on www.epa.gov or www3.epa.gov. This email provides OWC with information about EPA's joint web efforts and should:
- clearly identify all partners,
- include materials from outside EPA, and
- include input on site structure and content from outside EPA.
Information aimed at "kids" or students, meaning up to and including 6th grade, do not need to use the standard design, but a consistent "Look and Feel" must be applied, and this "Look and Feel" must be approved by OWC. Information aimed at older students (7th grade through 12th grade) must use the standard "Look and Feel" design.
Tracking statistics: Applications that use the One EPA Web template, partnership sites, kids/student pages, and any other sites that use non-standard templates must include the agency’s web analytics code. Find implementation details on the Procedure for maintaining Agency Web analytics code on all public HTML pages
Widget: There is no required EPA appearance or color scheme required for widgets. Please follow the standards found on the Widget Guidance and work with the OWC to develop your widget’s look.
Extranet Sites: Publicly accessible websites that require authentication and are intended for small target audiences generally comprised of EPA partners are exempt from the "look and feel" specifications. Extranet sites require registration but do not need a waiver. To register your extranet site, please send an email to the Office of Web Communication (OWC) at OWC@epa.gov with a brief description of the site and the planned URL. This email provides OWC with information about the extranet site and should:
- identify the audience and the number of users that will have access,
- describe the purpose for this site, and
- include a description of the structure (e.g. number of pages, technical architecture) of the site.
Required Steps for Waivers from "Look and Feel" Specifications
Offices may request a waiver to the required design and navigation elements of the "Look and Feel" specifications for one particular page or a series of pages. Waivers for certain pages may be necessary for reasons such as the application of the specifications causing a reduction of specific functionality. Evidence must be provided supporting such claims.
- Request a waiver:
- Prepare an email message or memorandum from the Office Director (or regional equivalent) responsible for the pages.
- Provide the reasons for the waiver request, the URL for the non-compliant page(s), if available, and a point of contact.
- Send the request to the National Content Manager and National Infrastructure Manager, found on the Web Council membership list.
OMS and OWC will jointly evaluate waiver requests and make a decision within 10 working days. If no decision is made by then, the relevant materials may be posted to the website, but the delay does not permanently excuse the materials from meeting the specification. If the waiver is later rejected, the National Content Manager and the National Infrastructure Manager will work with the requesting office to create a schedule for changing the materials to meet the “look and feel” specifications.
Related Governance Documents
- Ensuring EPA Content in the EPA Web Environment
- Protecting Content during Web Site Development
Procedure: Maintaining the Agency Web Analytics Code on all Public HTML Pages
Full Metadata about this standard
Name Complying with epa.gov “Look and Feel”
Required or Recommended Required
Effective date 02/8/2017
Date Approved 08/14/201
Original Date approved 03/18/2014
Category Page Elements
Web Council review by -8/14/2022 (or earlier if deemed necessary by the Web Council)
Governing Policy Web Governance and Management (PDF) Intranet (5 pp, 339 K, About PDF)