A Guide to Common Look and Feel

Common Look and Feel is a standard developed by the Treasury Board of the Canadian Government to help make accessible websites, web addresses and email to all. The standard also introduces the notion of consistency across the board in design and deployment practices. There are four major parts: Standard on Web Addresses, Standard on the Accessibility, Operability and Usability of Web Sites, Standard on Common Web Page Formats, and Standard on Email.

Common Look and Feel has gone through several iterations. It currently is in its second major iteration, referred to as “2.0.” As part of its duties to provide information to all citizens, the public sector has a considerably close relationship with CLF 2.0. Changes in the standard directly impact how public sector websites can display or categorize information.

Guidelines for the display of online material in particular are comprehensive. From the use of the national maple leaf insignia to specifications on a common menu bar format to the governance of third party links, CLF 2.0 is careful to address every component of online websites in order to provide the best possible user experience for people of all backgrounds, abilities, or disabilities. Each part of the standard comes with a table of contents to help web developers better navigate the complex rules and regulations.

However, as a time-saving device many companies now offer software packages or tools that will automatically convert or design a web site so that it is in full compliance with CLF 2.0. A group of open-source developers created the Web Experience Toolkit with a Drupal base, which both lowers the cost of maintenance while increasing overall security. Drupal has one of the strongest and most dedicated communities on the web. By syncing CLF 2.0 to a Drupal base, web developers hope to speed the adoption of the standard to other countries.

A private company known as XIST offers conversion and migration services for sites which must be compliant with CLF 2.0. Both of these services allow web designers or companies to quickly implement the CLF guidelines without spending an undue amount of time combing through the rather extensive online documentation and regulation.

Related Articles
Common Look and Feel for the Internet 2.0 (tbs-sct.gc.ca)
How Drupal Helps with the GoC’s New Standards on Web Accessibility & Usability (openconcept.ca)
Common Look and Feel.ca
CLF 2.0 Implementation (xist.com)
A Guide to Common Look and Feel (OPIN.ca) 

Christopher Smith. Canadian. CEO of opin.ca. We provide enterprise content management solutions for governments around the world.

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