We’ve been working to improve the way GOV.UK hosts marketing campaigns. I’m writing this blog post to explain how we are improving the current campaigns functionality by introducing a new campaigns platform.
What a campaign is
The Government Communication Service define campaigns as a way to: "change behaviour by encouraging people to lead healthy, safer lives, to inform people about public service and explain government policies, and to promote the interests and reputation of the UK".
Campaigns are time-limited promotional activity, with a specific and measurable goal.
Currently there are 2 ways for departments to create campaigns, either directly onto GOV.UK or on separate websites.
GOV.UK has an existing campaigns format used by departments and agencies. For example, the Government Equalities Office want to share case studies on gender equality. The Home Office want to link social media campaigns and guidance on testing smoke alarms.
All of these campaigns have things in common - they are informative, factual and use GOV.UK’s simple and clear layout.
There are, however, a large number of campaigns that opt to build and publish content on separate websites. GOV.UK was set up to meet user needs rather than those of government, so it doesn’t support complex layouts and rich media. These websites provide a different look and feel, before flowing back to GOV.UK for further information.
A need for change
The 2 types of campaign pages create a difficult decision for government departments. Building their own campaign websites comes at a cost, with the work being carried out by third party agencies. But they might find that GOV.UK’s simple campaign template doesn't help them get the behavioural change from the public that they want.
Users often find it an odd user journey to move from a campaigns page through to GOV.UK content, meaning some campaigns don’t meet their full potential. In addition, every new campaign has to start from scratch with a lot of work thrown away. We needed change, so after a short discovery and user research, we decided to build a new campaigns platform that follows the GOV.UK design principles.
New campaigns platform
To prevent departments from having to reinvent the wheel every time they wanted to build a more complex campaign site, we’ll build a free to use campaign platform which will help departments to make the most of their digital campaigns.
The platform will allow departments to publish their own content directly into a WordPress content management system in a similar style to government's blogs. We’ve designed a simple template to allow departments to put content into sections that suit the needs of their campaigns. The content sections will allow for more complex campaigns on GOV.UK that can feature videos, case studies, images, social media links, banners and call to action buttons.
Making sure a campaign is successful is important to campaigns teams. We have built in features to help analyse success for the duration of a campaign. Departments will nominate an end date or a time to review a campaign once it has launched in order to keep content relevant.
To help improve how teams can monitor user engagement for the lifecycle of a campaign, we’ve included a statistics dashboard which uses the Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager plugins.
A full user guide will be available to help teams use the platform to no matter how unfamiliar they are with WordPress. In addition there will be new policy guidance on planning, writing and managing content on GOV.UK.
We’ve spoken to campaigns teams and held design workshops with them to make sure we are meeting user and government needs. The new campaigns platform recently passed its alpha assessment. We will be moving into beta and hosting campaigns from October.
If you would like to know more about the platform and how it can help you run a campaign, speak to the GOV.UK Policy and Engagement team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles is a Policy and Engagement Manager at GOV.UK. Follow him on Twitter.