We’ve been running a few sessions with government organisations to look at how we can more clearly communicate developments to GOV.UK. In response, we’re introducing some changes to this blog.
‘Publishing essentials’: only get emails about the really important stuff
The principle behind a GOV.UK blog generally worked well for people: that we publish openly and debate what we’re up to.
However, a few people noted that we can have a slightly unrealistic expectation that everyone had time to digest - and recognise the relative importance of - all blogposts. (This theme also came out in your feedback on the blog.)
In response, we've set up a new ‘publishing essentials’ category. We'll use this to announce really important things like major changes to publishing formats, or guidance on major events like the budget. Stuff that every CMS user needs to know.
You have the choice to subscribe by email only to updates to this 'essentials' category - rather than to all updates from this blog. Find out more and sign up here.
We’re also happy to sign people from your organisation up in bulk, if you send us relevant email addresses - and will by default sign up new Publisher account-holders to the list.
Let's run with this for a few months and see how it goes.
Clearer blogpost titles and summaries
We’ll also be making a few small changes to when and how we blog.
New blogposts will be limited to a maximum of one per day, unless there’s a really good reason why not.
We’ll make sure that the title and first paragraph of every blogpost makes it clear what the blogpost is about, and what you’ll get from reading it. (This is the same text that appears in email notifications). Call us up on this if we get it wrong.
A new email alert format will also be launched next week, which gives the title of the blogpost in the email title, rather than a generic 'new blogpost' title.
Finally, as part of planning major changes to GOV.UK functionality or formats, we'll explicitly assess how and when these changes will be communicated. Often, this will take the form of an initial blogpost announcing the direction of change; and then a more detailed, practical, one shortly before the feature is introduced.
Reviewing sources of ‘permanent’ reference
Finally, the core purpose of blog should be to highlight and set into context new developments to GOV.UK.
From time to time, however, we also use it to publish more 'permanent' guidance on our formats or procedures when the need arises. We're aware this isn't ideal - and can render this guidance hard to find once it's dropped off the blog homepage.
In the short term, we'll be addressing this by building better indexes of our 'reference' material. We'll also be kicking off a project to look properly at all our sources of reference - style guide, publisher manual, this blog - to make sure they properly meet GOV.UK publishers' needs.