Our Criteria

UPDATE, 2017: This site is closed for business and is being maintained as an archive only. We hope you will enjoy its content.

On this page is our combined submission criteria and grading checklist. When we received a submission, we went through this same list — stopping at the first oversight. Assuming the submission survived the qualification review, we then delved into the site more thoroughly as a team.

Criteria & Checklist

Mark-up & CSS
  1. The site must be written to a “strictDOCTYPE if your selected document type offers this option and it must be valid.
  2. Valid CSS must be used for presentation. No layout tables, please.
  3. The site must meet all the mechanical checks for WCAG 1.0 Priority 1.
  4. Text must be resizable in all modern browsers.
  5. The site must be viewable in an 800 x 600 resolution monitor without side-scrolling. (Read why.)
  6. Semantically correct elements must be used properly. No breaks used to make lists, etc.
  7. Without CSS support, the site must linearize effectively and logically.
Graceful Degradation & Progressive Enhancement
  1. The site must remain functional if images are disabled.
  2. Primary site features must work without JavaScript or access to other plugins.
  3. Security, such as form security, must be backed up with server-side validation.
Links & Linking
  1. Links must be clearly distinguishable and easy to activate.
  2. Hover styles must not depend on colour changes alone.
  3. Where appropriate, links must be properly separated or make use of list markup.
Keyboard Navigation
  1. The site must be easy to navigate without a mouse.
  2. Links and form controls must offer focus/active visual changes.
  3. If employed, tab indexing must be logical and intuitive.
  4. Effective skip links must be available on demand to both sighted and visually impaired users.
Visitor Support
  1. The site’s content must be readable, clear and concise.
  2. A search facility must be available on larger sites
  3. Visitors must be able to make contact without having to jump through hoops.
  4. The site must contain supplemental visitor information such as a site map, an accessibility statement and custom error pages etc.
Cross User Agent Compatibility
  1. The site must function effectively in a range of current user agents including screen readers.
  2. CSS hacks must be avoided in favour of conditional commenting or content negotiation.
  3. Ideally, the site’s content should be accessible in legacy browsers.
Visual Design
  1. Designs must be original works. You may submit a site made with popular blogware like WordPress, but the theme must be an original work and extensively modified.
  2. The site must look great!

Awards Levels

Once we have completed a team review of the site, we may issue one of the following awards:

Notable Universal Design Award [!]
A site receiving this award level reached all of the minimum requirements outlined in our criteria above.
Quality Universal Design Award [*]
A site that reached this award level showed good attention to detail indicating that the developer obviously worked hard to get things right. We think that this is the type of web site that beginning developers should aim to emulate.
Classic Universal Design Award [**]
A site achieving this award level showed a thorough attention to detail. We believe this is a great web site on which the developer toiled diligently to get it just right. We can all learn something from this site.
Timeless Universal Design Award [***]
In one word - Wow! This is an outstanding site that shows an exemplary attention to detail with the developer going to incredible lengths to make it as perfect as can be. This is the type of web site that all developers should aspire to.

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