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  • Steven Wilson-Beales

Simon Kaplan on the GOV.UK content strategy: The Content Marketing Show, November 2013

GOV.UK Content Product Lead Simon Kaplan introduced us to the history behind the GOV.UK website. Kicking off with the Martha Lane Fox report that said the public service network needed to be updated.

  1. They had to introduce a process that could work across all departments. Their first task was to ‘fix publishing’. It was all about simplification – easy to read, easy to use.

  2. Everything starts with User Needs.

  3. They read every page on their website and asked if it satisfied their user needs. They asked questions like: what’s the point of the content? Do people want it? Do people expect the government to meet this need? Is it only government that can meet this need?

  4. They always ask themselves what is the best method of communicating this information. They always want to be clear and cocise, hiding the complexity.

  5. GOV.UK team then recorded their content audit on their ‘Need-o-tron’ tool

  6. The result was a massive content cull. They only use one ‘content type’ – one question/answer format.

  7. GOV.UK tells you the facts that you need to know and nothing beyond that.

  8. Fewer pages have resulted in more engagement.

  9. Currently they have moved 26 departments onto the GOV.UK domain. Resulted in the departments and policy section – everything need to be simplier, clearer and faster.

  10. Simon referred to the Afghanistan example – to illustrate duplicate content on this subject across multiple sites. Now only one page that directly answers the question, 3 tabs. All information in one place.

  11. Simon referred to the GOV.UK style guide which is also online (design section)

  12. Plain English in mandatory e.g.the word ‘tackling’ was often used e.g. ‘to tackle crime’ which are now considered ‘words to avoid’.

  13. “We have a responsibility to write well. We are about openness and transparency.”

  14. Faster: interacting with government is finding information easily and acting on it. We do not seek to entertain our audience.

  15. Simon also showed their use of Google snippets to show people the information at the start of the user journey. Or in the second sentence on the site (the google snippet).

  16. They have saved £500 million on IT savings. Closing down business link and other older resources has saved them £42 million.

Coffee break musings…because GOV.UK is such a well executed website, it is dominating search results at the expense of other professional services. Is that a good thing?

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