Reviewing detailed guides
Before we begin the agency transition, GDS has been reviewing the detailed guidance format. We’ve looked closely at the performance data, talked to departments about how they use it, and carried out user testing to see how it’s being received.
From this review, it’s clear the format isn’t working; the user experience is substandard, and publishers are confused about when to use the detailed guidance format. So we’re going to start making some changes to detailed guides including moving some, iterating the format and putting the brakes on new detailed guides.
We anticipate a growing body of guidance to be published on GOV.UK that:
* contains complex, technical information
* answer a specific, task-orientated user need
* is something government has a duty to provide
* addresses professionals and practitioners
* is written and updated by agencies and departments themselves
We want to develop a range of formats suitable for meeting the needs of users who require ‘detailed guidance’. We also want to improve the findability of guidance on GOV.UK through the use of improved browse pages. And, we want to iterate the backend features you use to create and manage guidance.
This process will naturally happen in the course of analysing the user needs and content of each of the ALB sites being transitioned to GOV.UK. But to supplement this, we will also conduct a series of exploratory workshops with colleagues in agencies and departments that have already transitioned their guidance content.
Moving non-detailed guides
We did a thorough content audit and identified that nearly half of the detailed guides - about 500 - aren’t in the correct format and should be moved.
For four weeks, a team of content designers will support organisations as they work out where to republish them on GOV.UK.
It’ll involve close analysis of user needs. Some will be straightforward to move (many should be publications, sub-organisations, news stories or case studies, for example), but we're also aware that some content has been created as a detailed guide because other GOV.UK formats weren't sufficiently flexible to accommodate it.
In particular, we found that editors wanted to be able to group and annotate documents in a document series, so we're starting to work on improving document series in this sprint.
No new detailed guides
The upshot of this is that from today you will no longer be able to create new detailed guides. Instead we ask that you publish content as a publication (preferably an HTML publication) with the type guidance.
Existing detailed guides will remain as they are for now, and you should continue to keep their content current.
We will keep blogging about developments in our work on detailed guides to let you know about further changes, and please get in contact if you want to be part of our workshops on guidance content.