USPS DSG Governance Version 2.0 (last updated May 2018)
This document lays out the high-level governance structure for maintaining and enforcing the USPS® Digital Style Guide (Style Guide or DSG). It establishes roles and decision-making authority for the Style Guide, as any decision will have a wide impact across USPS Digital and USPS Digital Media.
The Style Guide is the official guide for applying the United States Postal Service® digital brand across USPS.com®. It is geared towards designers, developers, business drivers (BDs), and business owners, as well as the teams supporting content creation, management, and promotion.
The Style Guide applies to new and updated pages, tools, and applications (including mobile apps) on USPS.com as well as sub-domains and most microsites. Exceptions must be requested in advance, approved, and documented.
NOTE: USPS Digital Style standardization activities currently underway are working to bring all existing domain content, especially tools and applications, in line with the Style Guide. However, in some cases, Style Guide compliance may not be addressed until the next scheduled enhancement or redesign project due to development asset and budgetary considerations.
Ownership, Roles & Responsibilities
The Style Guide is owned by the Digital Marketing group of the USPS Brand Marketing team, which also owns the USPS.com domain. There are five primary roles in the governance of the Style Guide:
- Executive Governance Committee (EGC)
- Governance Working Committee (GWC)
- Style Guide Project Manager
- USPS.com Web Content Management Team (WCM)
- USPS.com UX, Content, and Design Teams
Executive Governance Committee
The USPS Digital Style Guide Executive Governance Committee (EGC) is made up of representatives from USPS Brand Marketing and USPS Digital Media and Product Innovations. The EGC is sponsored by the Executive Director of Brand and has the following responsibilities:
- Setting major brand direction and approving changes or exceptions to that direction
- Approving any new styles, interactions, or other elements that represent a significant departure from or addition to the Style Guide
- Coordinating with the USPS IT Executive Program Director to promote adoption as part of USPS Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
- Meeting at least twice a year to reaffirm brand direction and consider the USPS Digital project pipeline and its implications for the Style Guide
Governance Working Committee
The USPS Digital Style Guide Governance Working Committee (GWC) is made up of representatives from the following departments:
- USPS Digital Marketing
- USPS Digital Media and Product Innovations
- The core USPS.com teams (Usability, Content, Content Strategy, Design, and Web Content Management)
The USPS IT Portfolio will be included in instances where technical advice or validation is required.
GWC decision making will occur as a group, however, final determinations (and decisions to escalate issues to the EGC) will rest with the USPS Digital Marketing and USPS Digital Media and Product Innovations representatives.
The GWC has the following responsibilities:
- Establishing and maintaining rules, structures, process, and policies for USPS digital ecosystem
- Ensuring the Style Guide contains relevant, up-to-date information, assets, and resources
- Managing assets available through the Style Guide
- Establishing communication with users about updates and changes to the Style Guide, including notifying the IT Portfolio and PMO teams and producing a USPS LINK article when Style Guide updates are published
- Analyzing and considering industry-wide best practices and standards to keep the Style Guide current
- Meeting at least quarterly to review Style Guide change, addition, and exception requests, to consider the USPS Digital project pipeline and its implications for the Style Guide, and to consider overall USPS Digital and USPS Digital Media Style Guide compliance
Style Guide Project Manager
The Style Guide Project Manager is a member of the USPS.com team, sits on the GWC, and has the following responsibilities:
- Monitoring feedback to the Style Guide (currently pointed to support.usps.com)
- Evaluating requests for edits or additions to the Style Guide
- Bringing requests and issues to the GWC
- When required, escalating requests and issues to the ECG
- Scheduling and facilitating GWC meetings (quarterly plus ad hoc)
- Scheduling and facilitating ECG meetings (annually plus ad hoc)
- Overseeing Style Guide compliance audits and reviews
- Providing guidance to designers, developers, and business drivers
- Managing backlog of Style Guide updates and additions (with WCM team))
USPS.com Web Content Management Team
The USPS.com Web Content Management (WCM) team manages and maintains USPS.com. The WCM team has the following responsibilities:
- Providing a representative(s) to the GWC
- Managing the digital site and assets of the Style Guide
- Managing the Style Guide site, including making edits and updates as required
- Validating that proposed Style Guide edits and additions are technically feasible and comply with USPS and applicable IT rules and regulations
- Prioritizing and implementing backlog of Style Guide updates (with Style Guide Project Manager)
USPS.com Content, Design & Usability Teams
The USPS.com Content, Design, and Usability teams are responsible for the ongoing content, design, and user experience of USPS.com. They work in sync with the WCM. The teams have the following responsibilities:
- Usability Team: Evaluating and improving user experience across USPS.com as well as optimizing USPS.com functional elements and flows to ensure a low cognitive load and easy customer adoption
- Content Team: Providing text content for USPS.com (including the Style Guide) as well as ensuring the voice, tone, consistency, and quality of other text content across USPS.com
- Design Team: Providing imagery, graphics, and icons for use across USPS.com including mock-ups and designs where appropriate as well as ensuring consistent and correct usage of USPS brand assets across USPS.com as assigned
The Style Guide is available for use by USPS project teams as well as USPS partners that work with USPS.com. All new USPS.com development is expected to reference the Style Guide.
NOTE: USPS has created, and will continue to create, digital content (marketing sites, applications, etc.) that reside outside of the USPS.com domain. While this content should comply with the Style Guide whenever possible, it is not strictly required. However, for this content to be placed within the USPS.com domain, Style Guide compliance is required, or the GWC must make changes/additions to the Style Guide to account for new elements or grant a compliance exemption.
Feedback & Support
Feedback and questions or requests for support related to the Style Guide can be directed to USPS Digital CCB.
Updates to the Style Guide will be documented in the Resources > Release Notes section of the Style Guide.
The GWC will also notify designers, developers, and BDs they are working with of forthcoming Style Guide additions/enhancements to ensure that they are included in the design, development, and testing process. Notifications will take the form of notifications to USPS IT Portfolio and PMO during regular status meetings and via email.
The Style Guide will employ a sequence-based versioning system to differentiate releases. A typical release of the Style Guide will be identified by a version number constructed in the following format: major.minor.revision (e.g., 1.2.3).
Determination of what constitutes a new revision, minor change, or major change is at the discretion of the GWC based on the following guidelines:
- Revision: Minor bug has been fixed or ancillary information has been updated
- Minor: Minor features have been added or a significant bug fix has been made
- Major: Major new features have been added or important changes have been introduced
Before beginning any new project involving design, project teams are strongly encouraged to review the Style Guide to ensure they are aware of any updates and changes. Additionally, they are encouraged to reach out to USPS Digital CCB to ensure that there are no planned or forthcoming Style Guide updates that would affect their project.
Once project work begins, the most common Style Guide-related workflows are for the following requests:
- Style Guide Compliance Reviews
- Style Guide Edits or Additions
- Style Guide Exceptions or Appeals
For any of these workflows, the process is initiated via a request directed to USPS Digital CCB.
NOTE: Workflow roles and responsibilities map to the following pattern:
Style Guide Compliance Reviews
A compliance review is recommended at each level of fidelity and stage development (wireframes, designs, prototypes, CAT) based on the following reasons:
- Failure to meet Style Guide compliance may result in project delays
- Early and iterative reviews expedite the process and reduce or avoid costly rework
- Style Guide compliance reviews can be completed relatively quickly
The WCM strongly recommends that design artifacts (wireframes, design comps, redlines, etc.) include notations indicating wherever a new, modified, or non-DSG-compliant design element is introduced.
NOTE: While Style Guide compliance reviews may note issues related to accessibility (Section 508), development, or security, they do not replace standard accessibility, code, or security reviews.
Style Guide Compliance Review – Basic Workflow
The Style Guide PM handles basic compliance reviews and iterative reviews to confirm recommendations are implemented successfully. For more complex compliance reviews, the Style Guide PM may require input from the larger GWC, members of the USPS.com teams, or the ECG.
REVIEW CYCLE: Style Guide Compliance Reviews vary in size and complexity effecting how quickly reviews can be completed.*
- Basic/simple review: 1 business day for every 3-5 pages/screens
- Iterative review: 1 business day for every 3-5 pages/screens
- Complex/extensive review: 1 business day for every 1-3 pages/screens
* Time estimates are based on typical LOE but do not guarantee schedule availability. Incorporating Style Guide Compliance Reviews into project schedules and promptly sharing those schedules with the Style Guide PM and GWC will help ensure reviews can be completed on time.
Style Guide Edits or Additions
Edits or additions to the Style Guide must be sent to the GWC for review. The GWC then decides on the changes or, if necessary, involves the EGC in the final decision. If approved, the edits or additions are assigned to the appropriate team, then communicated to the requestor, and added to the Style Guide.
Style Guide Edits or Additions – Request
Style Guide Edits or Additions – Implementation
EDIT AND ADDITION CYCLE: The Style Guide is a living document, so updates may be ongoing at any given time. The GWC typically meets on a quarterly basis but can be convened, when necessary, to review edits or additions requiring GWC review/approval. The USPS.com WCM team prioritizes and implements Style Guide edits and additions based on their overall project schedule.
- General edits/additions only requiring Style Guide PM review/approval: 2-3 business days*
- Priority edits/additions requiring GWC review/approval: 5-7 business days*
- Incidental edits/additions requiring GWC review/approval: next quarterly meeting
- Implementation: prioritized into WCM project schedule
* Time estimates are based on typical LOE but do not guarantee schedule availability, especially as it relates to convening the GWC.
Style Guide Exceptions or Appeals
Exceptions to or appeals of the Style Guide can be submitted for several reasons such as microsites existing outside of the standard USPS.com look-and-feel, unique interactions or functionality that contradicts or exists outside of Style Guide instruction, and select (typically campaign-specific) marketing sites. The basic process follows this workflow:
EXCEPTIONS AND APPEALS CYCLE: As with Style Guide edits and additions, the processing time for exceptions and appeals is determined by approval requirements.
- Exceptions/appeals only requiring Style Guide PM review/approval: 2-3 business days*
- Exceptions/appeals requiring GWC review/approval: 5-7 business days*
* Time estimates are based on typical LOE but do not guarantee schedule availability, especially as it relates to convening the GWC.
Standards & Compliance
Policies for the USPS Digital Style Guide are developed according to federal requirements and guidance from USPS as well as the GWC and EGC. Specifically, this includes policies related to usability, accessibility, and plain language.
All content on USPS.com is in the public domain. All USPS.com content is subject to USPS Legal standards which are discussed in the Legal Considerations section of the Style Guide.
The Style Guide and USPS.com is currently produced in English. Spanish- and simplified Chinese-language versions of USPS.com are provided by an outside vendor and are based on USPS.com and the English-language content contained therein with noted exceptions:
- Special character and font considerations
- Language and label guidance not applicable to Spanish or Chinese
NOTE: USPS.com static content is translated into Spanish and simplified Chinese. Select tools and applications are also translated, however some tools and applications, as well as microsites and subdomains are not.
The Style Guide follows best practices and standards to give designers and developers the tools needed to create content that is accessible to all visitors, regardless of browser, device, operating system, or disability. It is understood that designers and developers working with the Style Guide will also adhere to best practices and standards and that their outputs will undergo compliance testing.
Mobile-First & Responsive Design
USPS Digital and USPS Digital Media have committed to a mobile-first approach (designing for the smallest screen up). USPS still maintains a mobile site (m.usps.com), but work is underway to ensure that USPS.com and all USPS.com tools and applications are mobile friendly. To achieve this effort, we are employing responsive design.
Responsive design is a web standard for cross-platform compatibility. It uses the latest web development markup, HTML, and CSS. Its purpose is to allow the same web page to render a unique view depending on the device’s viewport. By basing the layout of the page on the viewport and not the device itself, responsive design allows the code to be device agnostic and adaptable to future generations of devices.
USPS.com is moving towards a truly mobile-first and fully-responsive domain, but the effort is a work in progress. The Style Guide has been created with responsive design in mind; however, some templates and elements (especially those related to tools and applications) may not yet be optimized for responsivity. Additionally, some tools and applications will only ever be available for desktop (and perhaps tablet) due to peculiarities that do not translate to mobile display.