Electronic Information Resources (EIR) Products

Guidelines and Best Practices for Web Products

These guidelines apply to DSHS websites and web-based products. To start the process of outsourcing the development of any electronic information resources products, please contact DSHS Web Services.

Web and Portal Authority Approval

DSHS programs must coordinate with the DSHS Web Services office before starting any new web or mobile projects. Web Services will work with program staff to complete the HHS Portal Authority approval process. It is the responsibility of the program to ensure that all material conforms fully to DSHS website requirements and state and federal laws. Please contact DSHS Web Services for questions or assistance.

Brand Guide

All web and EIR products must comply with the HHS Brand Guide. This guide includes required items, design guidelines, and best practices to ensure that all DSHS sites and applications maintain a unified look and feel and are accessible to users of varying abilities.

Laws Regarding State Agency Web Sites

ALL EIR products must meet Texas HHS accessibility requirements and established State of Texas rules (TAC 206 and TAC 213), as well as all state and federal laws about websites and EIR products.

Accessibility Information

DSHS programs must coordinate with the agency accessibility coordinator to develop an accessibility plan and testing schedule for every web or mobile project. 

For more information - including the uniform accessibility clause, testing guidelines, and more - see the online HHS Accessibility Center.

Responsive Design Standards

Any website developed for DSHS must be "responsive," or adaptable to a variety of screen sizes, including those of mobile phones. The responsive design strategy enables all users to experience rich content, independent of the device they are using to navigate the site. DSHS has developed a responsive HTML website template that must be used in all DSHS campaigns that include a website component. The template consists of a top and bottom DSHS wrapper, social media badging, and required links. Please contact DSHS Web Services for questions or assistance.

Usability and Inclusive Design

Any website developed for DSHS must be usable and accessible to all users. Usability studies and data analyses must be a part of any website development effort. Data elements for a successful usability study should include focus groups, surveys, analytics, and any other customer feedback available.

Spanish Language

Spanish language must be incorporated into any DSHS public health campaign. State websites are required by law to provide key services in Spanish. During the development of a campaign website, consultation with the content development and HHS Language Services teams should occur at regular intervals. Translation should be requested not only for vital webpage content but also for key navigational points (e.g., menu items, footer links, etc.) and structural elements (e.g., site map, search, page titles, etc.).

Plain Language

All websites must follow plain language guidelines. Plain language ensures your audience can find what they need, understand what they find, and use what they find. Writing in plain language considers paragraph structure, reading level, and active writing.

If you want help editing your pages for plain language, you can email DSHS Communications.


YouTube is DSHS's primary video hosting platform. DSHS videos need to be available and visible to the public on YouTube for transparency, promotional, and communications consistency reasons. This includes informational, educational, and promotional videos. All videos posted in conjunction with campaign websites or via any social media channels must comply with accessibility rules.

The social media coordinator in the Office of Communications must review all external videos before being approved for posting on the official DSHS YouTube channel. Please contact the DSHS Social Media Coordinator for more information.

DSHS Logo Information

The DSHS logo must be on every website and web product. For guidance, see the DSHS Logo Usage Guidelines and the HHS Brand Guide.

Domain Names

ALL domain names must be purchased and registered through DSHS Web Services.

External domain names are limited to one unique name per campaign in English and Spanish and MUST use .org instead of .com or .net.

Hosting Services

All DSHS websites or applications must be hosted in the state data center.


DSHS programs are responsible for ensuring maintenance plans are in place for the duration of the campaign.


Vendors will be responsible for providing analytics for the website. Tools like Google Analytics may be used but require that the site include a privacy policy that describes the type of information collected and how that information is used. The DSHS Privacy Policy can be used as a guide, but specific details of what the analytics tool tracks must be included in the individual site’s privacy policy.


DSHS programs must coordinate with IT Security to develop a security plan and testing schedule for every web or mobile project. Additionally, vendors must comply with the HHS Information Security Web and Mobile Minimum Security Standard (PDF).

Social Media

Social Media falls under the purview of the Office of Communications. Please contact the Office of Communications for more information. DSHS Public Social Media Policy.


E-Government encompasses all projects using information technology related to access to or delivery of government services. Programs must consider using Texas Online for financial transactions; applications for licenses, permits, registrations, and other related documents from the public; electronic signatures; and other applications that require security.

Records Retention

13 TAC defines a state publication to be “Information in any format that is produced by the authority of or at the total or partial expense of a state agency or is required to be distributed under the law by the agency and is publicly distributed by or for the agency.” Please contact the DSHS Records Management Officer at records.mgmt@dshs.texas.gov for more information.

External Links

Any links to external websites imply that DSHS sanctions the content of those sites. For this reason, these sites must be subjected to the same scrutiny as if DSHS itself were publishing the information.

For other questions or clarification, please contact Web Services.

  • Monitor the content of all linked sites frequently to ensure accuracy and appropriateness.
  • Whenever possible, obtain written permission from external organizations before linking to their sites.
  • Any web page that provides external e-mail links to a non-state employee is required to include the following disclaimer:
    “External e-mail links are provided to you as a courtesy. Please be advised that you are not emailing the Texas Department of Health State Health Services (DSHS) and DSHS policies do not apply should you choose to correspond.”

For questions on items not addressed in this document, please contact Web Services for clarification.

DSHS Model Release Form

Model Release Form must be submitted to ensure DSHS has appropriate distribution rights whenever a person’s likeness is used in photos, videos, or voice recordings (Spanish-language Model Release Form). Professional photographers must sign the Photographer Release.