Meeting technical standards is essential when developing interoperable digital resources so they run easily in all environments, including websites and online learning environments. Your resources need to comply with certain technical requirements if they are to be shared nationally; ensuring technical conformance is fundamental to the development process.
There are six technical principles you need to consider when developing a digital resource.
- Accessibility: the resource should be inclusive of a range of contexts, environments and users, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, culture, disability or geographic location.
- Usability: the resource should be easy to use, with an interface that is clear, consistent and memorable, provides information where content is supplied in alternative formats and is pleasant to use on a range of devices.
- Interoperability: the resource should be compatible with software and hardware platforms and operating environments that support internationally adopted standards and specifications.
- Flexibility: the resource and its constituent components should be adequately described and packaged so that it can be found and recontextualised for multiple applications and environments.
- Durability and sustainability: the resource should be adaptable to technology changes without the need to redesign or recode. That is, you should be able to store source media to allow translation into new formats so that improvements in bandwidth and technologies can be easily incorporated.
- Scalability: the resource should use technologies that will enable it to support increased use or ease of modification to provide for growth.
In order to meet the six technical principles, the structure, presentation and functionality of digital resources should be constructed separately to facilitate the development, maintenance and repurposing of content.
- The structure of a resource refers to how it is organised. For example, in web-based resources, information may be organised as elements and nodes within an XML file.
- The presentation of a resource refers to how it is rendered. This may be affected by the application of another resource. For example, a style sheet may alter the presentation of a web page.
- The functionality of a resource refers to how the user interacts with it. For example, a web page may contain links that open other web pages in separate windows.
Separating these three aspects of a digital resource enables easier transformation of the content for different devices, and simplifies repurposing of content for different users if necessary. As you document your resource in the functional specification, include details regarding how the resource complies with technical requirements.