Creating information and data

As with accessibility, usability and security, good practices in online information and data management cannot be applied retrospectively; it is essential that they be considered from the start of the development lifecycle. This is equally true when delivering informational content or interactive services.

Giving adequate consideration to the points on this page will help you ensure that you are following good practices in information and data management when creating information or services online, by taking steps to meet the goals and principles of online Information management.

Ownership and authority

  • Ensure the responsible agency's name and (where appropriate) the responsible business unit can be determined from all online content. The business unit name should be on a page or publication or in the 'About this site' page of a website, and in page metadata.
  • Brand all content/pages on the site or service with the approved agency brand.
  • Have a documented and approved process for publication. Theis may be approval rules stored in Content Management System workflow modules. If publication processes aren’t managed by CMS workflows, you should have a manual signoff/approval process in place.
  • Ensure publication is only undertaken by authorised people.
  • Have a clear trail of evidence to support publication i.e. who created, who approved, steps taken to ensure quality & accuracy of information.


  • Ensure online services have been through a process of risk assessment, risk mitigation, and formal acceptance of residual risk by the business owner ('accreditation'), with a level of assurance that is appropriate to the nature of the site or service.
  • Refer to the security and privacy guidance on the Web Toolkit.
  • Seek assurance from your security adviser/s.

Privacy protection

  • Put measures in place to ensure all personal information is protected from unauthorised access or disclosure.
  • Manage all personal information in accordance with the Information Privacy Principles.
  • Monitor and record accesses to people's personal information.
  • Be familiar with the security and privacy guidance on the Web Toolkit.
  • Seek assurance from your privacy adviser/s when dealing with personal information.

Accuracy and validity

  • Ensure all information has been reviewed for accuracy and approved for publication.
  • Consider visibly marking content/pages with the approving authority, e.g. business unit.
  • Mark all content/pages with the date of publication.
  • Ensure that content to be published has an appropriate schedule for review.
  • If appropriate, mark pages/content with an expiry date or period of validity, or indicate that it remains current.
  • If you retain expired content in your CMS, it should be stored with the date on which it was withdrawn. If you choose to leave expired content publicly visible for historical purposes, it should be clearly marked as such, together with the period of validity that applied to it.


  • If you are publishing content in formats other than HTML, choose formats which are widely adopted and can be reliably accessed for as long as required. These are usually commonly-used formats with openly published specifications.
  • Refer to the NZGOAL Guidance Note on file formats. You should favour file formats that are considered more open when publishing content, and machine-readable when releasing data for re-use.
  • Determine whether and how content will be archived or disposed of at end of life prior to publication, particularly content that is not in HTML. Have or develop a documented plan for lifecycle management of web-based information.
  • You should embed metadata in content to ensure that essential context of the content is preserved when it is archived, migrated or re-used, and can be accessed by a consuming system. It should include the name of the publishing agency, date of publication and last review and/or modification, date of expiry if appropriate, licensing terms, and description.
  • Alert National Library to significant new web-based publications or new web sites, so that they can be harvested under the Legal Deposit legislation. National Library prefers to harvest new content from the time of creation and take regular copies thereafter.


  • Ensure content is semantically structured, clearly titled and written in plain English to aid discoverability and comprehension.
  • Use tools available in MS Word or online to test reading levels required to understand your content.
  • If you publish content in formats other than HTML, choose commonly used formats. Refer to the NZGOAL Guidance Note on file formats. If a non-HTML format is the primary vehicle for the content, you may need to provide an accessible alternative. Regardless of any fully accessible alternative, the non-HTML version should be made as accessible as possible. Refer to the NZ Government Web Accessibility Standard, taking particular note of the implementation schedule, and associated guidance.
  • When publishing data make sure it is published in easily re-usable formats under an NZGOAL re-use licence unless specific licences are required.
  • List individual datasets available for re-use on, with complete metadata.
  • Apply widely-adopted metadata schemas for embedded metadata. For most informational content this is likely to be Dublin Core.
  • Comply with all aspects of the NZ Government Web Usability Standard.

More information