EERE's Communication Standards Web site hosts a wealth of information. But it hasn't always been easy to tell which standards are fall-on-your-sword important, and which are simply strong recommendations.

And this distinction is crucial, because EERE is required to meet certain OMB and federal requirements for its Web sites, and it's important to understand what is mandatory and why.

So, to make these distinctions more obvious, the Web Project Management, Web Content Guidelines, and Web Technical Guidelines have been reorganized to make it more obvious what is required and what is not. If a page deals only with requirements or best practices, then check in the intro text (the text at the top of the page.) It will explain what content is on the page, and whether it is required or recommended. If the page includes both requirements and best practices, then these are divided up under headers that show you which is which.

Everything listed as a requirement is required on all sites in the Content Management System (CMS) or the EERE Template. The best practices listed on the Standards site should be considered strong recommendations—they're guidelines that we recommend following, because they'll result in a better final product and a higher quality Web site, but your site can go live without following them.

In the near future, EERE will also be releasing updated QA Checklists. The new QA checklists will let you choose the type of site you work on—whether it's in the EERE template or not, or in the CMS or not—and then see what standards your site is required to meet before going live.

As always, if you have any questions about the changes to the Standards site, please leave them in the comments.