Web documents

Web documents

This is a set of principles and guidelines for the Publication of Documents on the Web. This may not seem a very interesting or important subject, but a little consideration of these pages may help you to understand why it has been published.



Everything else hangs on there being a purpose for the document being on the web. If there's no purpose, it doesn't matter at all about any of the other things. The principles must be seen from the viewpoint of the purpose.

If you don't know the purpose, you must work out what your purpose is first. If you have been asked to put something on the web, the person who asked you must know what the purpose is.

Note: putting something on the web with no purpose may annoy people who imagine that you must have a purpose. If your purpose is to annoy people, not obeying these principles will help achieve your purpose.


Usable means usable for the purpose. Some examples:


Accessible means accessible by the recipients.

Not only must the recipients be able to open the document, the recipient must be able extract the content. Most generally, on the web, that means read, hear or see it.

We don't need to say much more about this, as there is a large body of available work, particularly the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. These define what is accessible (in web terms). All practical purposes should be accessible to level AAA.

Note particularly that things that can only be viewed are required to have alternatives that can be heard, and the users may need assistive technologies


How traceable a web document must be really does depend upon its purpose. Some examples:

And it goes on into non-repudiation and great legal complexity... I am not a lawyer: consult a real lawyer if it matters for your purpose.


The origins of these pages are in a number of discussions, presentations, and other activities that lead me to realise that this information needed to be available publicly, if it was to be of any use.

I have, obviously, got strong views on the subjects (or I would never have bothered). I expect that my readers may also have strong views, and I want to hear about them. You can reach me at pgbw AT cix.co.uk, and I will attempt to respond to all comments within a reasonable length of time.