https://insidegovuk.blog.gov.uk/2018/11/01/using-topic-pages-to-organise-content-on-gov-uk/

Using topic pages to organise content on GOV.UK

A screen shot of the 'Education, training and skills' topic page

GOV.UK has a lot of content and more is published every day.

Some users can struggle to find what they need when they navigate through all this content.

To try and solve this problem, we launched the GOV.UK site-wide taxonomy. This is our way of organising content so it’s easier to find and understand.

What we did

For this new site-wide taxonomy to work, we had to find a new way for users to navigate it to find what they need.

Our answer to this was to create topic pages, for example ‘Education, training and skills’. These pages show content that belongs to every topic, at every level, of the taxonomy.

But our user research showed that users do not only think about topic when they are looking for something. They also think about the content type of the content they're searching for. Corporate reports, consultations and guidance are all examples of content types.

Because content types are important to users, we had to come up with a way of grouping content that would make sense to users who rely on content types to find what they need.

This resulted in a shortlist of content ‘supergroups’, which were organised according to what a user needs to do. For example, completing a transaction with government - like submitting a tax return - finding information published by government or holding government to account.

‘Guidance and regulation’, ‘news and communication’ and ‘research and statistics’ are examples of supergroups that allow us to organise content in this way.

We then made decisions around what gets shown on topic pages and in what order, based on the user needs for the content in each supergroup.

Things like guidance and transactions appear first because they’re needed by the largest number of users. Things like consultations, corporate reports and news are provided further down, as they’re needed by more specialist users.

Next steps

Topic pages are a work in progress. We’re still measuring how they’re being used and not all topics have been launched.

We’ll continue to iterate and improve these pages. We’ll be using analytics and usability testing to find out how users want to navigate through these pages and whether our content prioritisation works.

Mia is a designer on GOV.UK.

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3 comments

  1. Comment by Leon posted on

    Is there any preliminary performance improvement data with regard to the implementation of the new taxonomy and structuring of gov.uk? Especially interested in how the Education pages are faring since that was the first segment you beta-tested the new taxonomy with.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Comment by Jennifer Hicks posted on

    I like the idea of sorting by content type and function. But how do the content & pages listed on this topic page (and its subtopics) relate to the A-Z "Education and Learning" page (gov.uk/browse/education) that you reach through the gov.uk homepage? Would a person going through this topic page be able to access all the same pages available through the browse/education page? Or do they complement each other? Also, I am wondering how one reaches these topic pages from within gov.uk.

    Reply
  3. Comment by Alick Mighall posted on

    This is really interesting, and a challenge I think a lot of product managers are struggling with. Useful to see how you are addressing it so thanks for sharing.

    Is there more information anywhere on what comprises the site-wide taxonomy please? I think it'd be easier to see how topics and content 'supergroups' work knowing more about the overall taxonomy.

    I'm also curious as to how you chose the URL structure of pages as well. A lot of services seem to sit at the top level for example - i.e. at gov.uk/

    I also notice that on this page, which I get when clicking on 'see more services in this topic' refers to transactions as well as services. Isn't it one or the other?

    Finally, how do you envisage topics being used on the homepage - so currently the homepage links to https://www.gov.uk/browse/education instead of https://www.gov.uk/education

    Reply

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