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Content design: Creating good content

This guidance is for content owners/managers.

Use ‘content design’ to create good content. This involves using data and evidence to give the audience what they need, when they need it, using their language.

Know the who, what and why ('user needs')

To create good content, it’s vital you know:

  • who it’s for
  • what they need to do and
  • why they need to do it

You can do this by focusing on user needs rather than what you want to say. User needs are what someone needs to do or find out from TPR.
Using this approach will enable you to focus on who you are producing content for and what they need to do. It will help you to avoid jumping to a final solution or providing information that is not useful.

Write your user needs in this format:

As… [who has this need?]
I need/want to… [what does the user need to do?]
So that… [why does the user want to do this?]

Examples:

  • As a new employer I need to choose a pension scheme so that my staff can save for their retirement.
  • As someone involved with running a master trust, I need to apply for authorisation so that my scheme can continue operating.
  • As a pension trustee I need to know what member data the scheme needs so that I can check the administrator is keeping the correct records.

You should then write acceptance criteria for each user need. These set out when the user need has been met.

Acceptance criteria can help you to decide what your content needs to contain.

For the example:

As a new employer I need to choose a pension scheme so that my staff can save for their retirement.

The acceptance criteria could be when the user:

  • understands what issues they need to consider when choosing a scheme
  • chooses an authorised scheme
  • understands who can advise them if they need help
  • knows where to find an adviser if they do not already have one

If you have lots of acceptance criteria you may need to create several smaller user needs.

You will also need to consider business needs, eg TPR’s goals and objectives.


Use evidence

Use evidence to prove user needs exist and to make good content design decisions. This will help you to avoid relying on personal opinions.

Use sources such as:

  • website data, eg from Google Analytics
  • user research and market research reports
  • customer feedback
  • audience personas (our key user groups)
  • free keyword tools, eg Google Trends and SEMRush, which show the language that our audiences use

Agree roles and responsibilities

Creating content usually involves content, subject matter and legal experts working together.

Make sure everyone working on a piece of content is clear what their role is.

Plan your content

Think about the whole journey for users rather than focusing on single pieces of content. This may include offline as well as online channels.

Consider which channels are most suitable for the content. There’s no point publishing content on a channel where people do not need it and will not read it.

Decide which content type best meets the needs of users. You may need to use more than one type.

Consider different options for the content. For example, you may need to:

  • reduce content, eg where it is too detailed for the intended audience
  • split content, eg into smaller chunks for different audiences
  • delete content, eg where it is no longer needed
  • change the format, eg where evidence shows a different type of content would offer a better solution

Update existing content rather than creating new content that causes duplication.

Direct users to other government bodies instead of creating the same content as them.


Avoid duplication

What are you and other teams publishing? Are our audiences seeing a coherent view of TPR? We have thousands of items of content on our site, so you should check that the user need has not already been covered.

Duplicate content can potentially confuse our audiences and damage the credibility of our content.

There’s also a risk our customer support team will receive additional calls because users aren’t sure they have all the right information. We also fight with ourselves for online search results if we duplicate information. If something is written once and links to relevant info easily and well, people are more likely to trust the content.

Plain English

As a government regulator we must use plain English so that the information we provide is accessible to everyone.

It means writing clear, to the point communications using simple language.

See also: plain English: Top 10 tips.

And finally before publishing

Consider different screen sizes

Although many of our users still have desktop PCs there is a steady shift to smaller screens. Consider how users will interact with your content on a wide range of screen sizes. For example, an infographic PDF may be difficult to view on a mobile phone.

Consider how you will maintain the content

This includes who needs to review the content and how often they need to do it. This will stop us publishing content and leaving it to get out of date. Use any feedback and insight you gather to continue improving the content.

Measure success

Decide how you are going to measure how effective your content is before you publish it. Volume metrics such as page views do not tend to be the best measure of success.

Further reading

See GOV.UK guidance on content design