We want to promote a common strategy for content teams across government. This is so we collectively improve content quality across government and identify and fix those things that stop us from meeting our principles.
We need all the content teams from across government to help us iterate these principles. We want to know what’s good, what’s bad and what’s missing. Help iterate these principles in the comments or on Basecamp.
Like the title says - we’re thinking big and we want you to think big too.
Content strategy principles for government
1. Do less: only create the content that users need and that you can maintain.
This is the ultimate goal and a really hard one to reach. That’s why it’s our first.
2. Content decisions must be made by skilled and supported content designers
We need the help of lots of people across government to make sure what we’re telling people is right - policy, lawyers and other experts. Content is at the heart of how we communicate with users and we should be involved at the start of any changes or creation of new policies, services and guidance.
3. User need: content is based on valid user needs or it’s something that needs to be published for legal or transparency reasons.
GOV.UK is an active, living website. We don’t want to hide what people genuinely need to know about with lots of stuff they don’t. Analytics, user feedback and evidence can help us determine what people want and need to know, alongside what no one reads or needs.
4. Know your content: audit your content to identify problems and continually improve.
We don’t do everything right the first time. But we can fix things.
5. Have a plan for when content is no longer relevant for users
Some content should be archived and some will live on as a record. Understand what to do with your content when it’s reached the end of its usefulness.
6. Know when you’re busy: plan for peak publishing periods.
We know when these are. We need to make sure everyone else does too.
7. Maintain your content team: have a training plan for people who maintain and create new content.
We must always be on top of new technology and the way people use that technology to interact with government. We need the time and space to improve ourselves so we can make sure we can improve content for our users.
8. Use the best format and channels for your content: not everything has to live on GOV.UK
Be the expert for how government can publish, whether on GOV.UK or through other channels, eg blogs or social media. Know what is accessible and support every type of user. Use open standards.
9. Collaborate: especially with those outside your team, department or agency.
People should have seamless user journeys whether online or offline. We can make that happen.
10. Create seamless user journeys
Help users find content easily, at the right level of detail with no dead ends. Users shouldn’t have to understand how government works to get what they want.