Raising the standard of websites worldwide: BSI and Magus launch a new specification

Press release - 29 April 2008

BSI and Magus release Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 124 to help organisations manage website standards efficiently and harness their full potential.

BSI British Standards and UK web compliance expert Magus, today launched a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) which aims to improve the effectiveness of corporate websites through a new best practice approach to the application and management of website standards. PAS 124: “Defining, implementing and managing website standards” is available for download from today at: www.bsi-global.com/en/shop.

Simon Lande, CEO of Magus, commented: “As the web continues to develop as a critical business medium, so does the importance of maximising website effectiveness. But our experience shows that businesses are actually reducing the impact and value of their web presence, despite the millions invested each year, because they are not implementing website standards successfully.”

Website standards are used to govern the content, function and appearance of a company’s web estate. They include both standards defined by organisations (e.g. brand and editorial standards), and standards specified by external bodies (e.g. legal and accessibility standards). Managed effectively, these standards are powerful tools for regulating the process of website creation and publication and deliver tangible performance and operational benefits.

However, the scope and diversity of website standards present organisations with common logistical challenges. PAS 124 addresses these challenges by providing the first-ever procedural framework to help organisations deploy website standards efficiently and harness their full potential.

The specification is organised around the three key processes of effective website management: defining, implementing and managing website standards. The standards definition process is supported by a detailed guide to the categories of website standards that organisations need to consider.

The key business benefits for managing websites within the PAS 124 framework include:

  • Brand protection – reinforcement of the brand online by ensuring consistency of brand presentation and messaging; protection of the brand and company reputation by ensuring a consistent, high quality user experience.
  • Risk management – minimisation of online risk through compliance with legislative requirements; securing appropriate protection of intellectual property under a defined legal jurisdiction.
  • Improved financial return – protection of investment in web-related projects by ensuring quality and performance is maintained; reduction of development and maintenance costs; provision of access to the widest possible market, by ensuring compliance with accessibility guidelines and compatibility with target user platforms; and optimisation for targeted customer acquisition due to the effective localisation of content.
  • Improved workflow – reduction of time to market for web projects through streamlined development and maintenance processes; communication and enforcement of best practice across web teams and the organisation as a whole.
  • Performance measurement – provision of objective targets against which performance can be tracked and measured.

Lande continued: “PAS 124 provides a framework which clearly sets out how organisations should approach standards to take control of their websites and achieve maximum return on their investment. PAS 124 is the first specification of its type anywhere in the world and aims to help companies create and maintain a world-class web presence”.

Incorporating best practice thinking from across the industry, PAS 124 explains how to define standards to ensure that websites meet the needs of visitors and support the organisation’s online goals; how to implement and deploy standards across a large web estate; and how to manage standards in the dynamic environment of the online world.

Mike Low, Director of BSI British Standards, added: “This is a major step forward for the web industry. BSI has brought together a wide range of expertise in the field of website standards to develop a robust, practical framework that will yield great benefits for the industry.”

The specification was developed by UK web compliance expert Magus Ltd, in collaboration with BSI British Standards. It was reviewed by a Steering Group of independent experts from across the industry and put out to public consultation. The Steering Group included experts from Shell, Unilever, the Institute of Directors, Interbrand, SDL, The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), and The Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA).

Steering Group comments:

  • Simon Saville, Head of Web Communications, Shell International: “For companies, such as Shell, which have a multi-site, multi-editor and multi-lingual web estate, having the appropriate processes in place to ensure adherence to website standards is essential, both to ensure consistency in the way our brand is presented online, and to maximise the return on our web investment. The framework and recommendations set out in PAS 124 will help organisations achieve these goals”.
  • Deborah Fitzgerald, Marketing Director, Interbrand: “Interbrand surveys repeatedly identify a direct correlation between brand consistency and brand influence. The impact of a strict adherence to standards is quantifiable, and represents a clear commercial opportunity. However, few companies have sufficiently robust standards management processes in place to achieve consistent compliance and to reap the benefits. PAS 124 presents a roadmap for positive change.”
  • Prof. Jim Norton, Senior Policy Advisor, Institute of Directors: “Good corporate governance mandates that companies become more rigorous about their website standards. Failure to implement best practice standards compromises a company’s ability to deliver on its online goals, and depletes returns for shareholders and other stakeholders. PAS 124 provides a clear, actionable framework for standards compliance.”
  • Nick Slowe, IT Director, Institution of Engineering and Technology: “As a standards-led organisation, the IET is acutely aware of the importance of clearly defining standards and governance procedures for any business-critical process. The dynamic nature of the internet has made this a particularly challenging task, but with PAS 124 now available, all organisations can benefit from the full power of website standards.”
  • Paul Hampton, Product Marketing Director, SDL: “Alongside best practice website standards, companies with an international web presence need to consider the impact of regional differences, to ensure that regional websites meet local audience needs. PAS 124 addresses these issues and helps companies define the balance between central and local control – a key issue for all global organizations.”

A Publicly Available Specification (PAS) is a sponsored fast-track standard driven by the needs of the client organizations and developed according to guidelines set out by BSI. Key stakeholders are brought together to collaboratively produce a BSI-endorsed PAS that has all the functionality of a British Standard for the purposes of creating management systems, product benchmarks and codes of practice. After two years the PAS is reviewed and a decision is made as to whether it should be taken forward to become a formal British Standard.

About BSI Group
BSI British Standards is part of BSI Group, a global independent business services organization that inspires confidence and delivers assurance to customers with standards-based solutions. Originating as the world’s first national standards body, the Group has over 2,250 staff in more than 50 global offices. The Group’s key offerings are:

  • The development and sale of private, national and international standards and supporting information.
  • Second and third-party management systems assessment and certification.
  • Product testing and certification of services and products.
  • Performance management software solutions.
  • Training services in support of standards implementation and business best practice.

What Magus say about Magus:
Magus is the world leader in Website Quality Monitoring. Our ActiveStandards™ service helps large companies measure and manage the quality, consistency and compliance of their global web estates.

For over ten years, we have delivered high-value managed services to some of the world’s most successful companies, including: AstraZeneca, Unilever, Shell, ING, Clifford Chance, Cobham, General Electric, SABMiller, ArcelorMittal and Akzo Nobel.

We’re known for our leadership in Website Quality Monitoring, our user-friendly applications and our near-obsessive commitment to customer support.

For information about our Website Quality Monitoring and consultancy services: www.activestandards.magus.co.uk.

For information about our other products and services: