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Building standards into a system is difficult since these are, by definition, constantly improving. The APLAWS+ system has attempted to build national set of standards that are important to UK local authorities.

The Government's Interoperability Framework (eGIF) sets the architecture for joined-up and web-enabled government. It is the result of international consultation and reflects best practice and advice from experts in both the public and private sectors working the field of interoperability. A main feature of the framework revolves around adopting XML (the data language of the internet) as the key standard for data interchange.

The APLAWS system outputs XML which is then styled by templates into html so that browsers are able to view the web pages.


Metadata describes how and when and by whom a particular set of data was collected, and how the data is formatted. Metadata is often referred to as data about data. It forms part of the information management policy and structure for joined-up and web-enabled government, for the UK Online Portal and Gateway, Electronic Service Delivery, and for Electronic Records Management. The Government's Metadata framework and that built into the APLAWS system is based on the "Dublin Core" (please see the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative for more information about this).

The APLAWS system has built Dublin Core elements into the back-end, so that it is an optional part of the content authoring process.

The Local Government Category List is a controlled vocabulary of terms that can be used to populate subject metadata. The list maps to the standard list of services (often known as the ‘PID List’) managed by ESD Toolkit. Holding information against this list has immense value to a local authority, since it means Web content can be measured objectively against this standard for electronic service delivery by authorities. It is then possible identify those areas of the website where content is deficient or absent.

The APLAWS system has built in the Local Government Category List (see the external site LGCL resource pages for details) to populate the metadata subject.category field. This is automatically mapped to the ESD Toolkit services, thereby assisting in an objective measure of Best Value Performance Indicator 157 (BVPI157) - a UK measure of local authority services online.

The web needs to be accessible by everyone regardless of disability. As with many content management systems, APLAWS separates content from presentation - and presents the information through templates. This makes is easier to manage accessibility, but the onus still remains on whoever is responsible for the web pages to ensure that these meet reasonable accessibility levels. In the UK this is mandatory in terms of the Disability Discrimination Act. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative lists the main usability principles for the design of web sites. All other materials on the subject are interpretations of these guidelines.

The APLAWS project has endeavoured to reach high levels of accessibility on the default templates, with a focus on reaching the WAI AAA Standard. These templates are available from this website as part of the APLAWS CMS. The approach taken to achieving accessibility is described in the APLAWS Templates Accessibility Document.

With a focus on best practise and in order to achieve some for of consistency between local authority websites in the UK, the APLAWS project proposes a standard way of organising content on a website. 

The standard information architecture  forms the basis for the way information is organised on the default templates that are part of the APLAWS CMS. It is also described in the APLAWS Information Architecture Document.