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Where next for Parliament's website content?

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Care, Content design, Continuous iteration, Start with user needs
White wall with the word 'create'Image by Charisse Kenion using Creative Commons Licence 2.0

A lot's changed in the PDS content team recently. Head of Content Joe Strawson talks about the team's focus and strategy for the next couple of years.

What we want to achieve

Our aim is to create a content culture in Parliament where editors have the tools, guidance and support they need to create clear, accessible, and consistent content for Parliament’s websites and intranet.

We have four objectives to help us achieve this.

Improved content for new platforms

Parliament’s digital offer is changing, and our processes need to change too.

Much of the content created by our editors was designed for non-responsive platforms. By that, I mean website pages that are not optimised for all devices, such as mobile phones and tablets.

In the past few months we have been migrating that content to responsive platforms. Now, whether accessing our content through a PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, users will get the same quality of experience. 

Build relationships, use tools to assess performance

We have a big opportunity to audit the content and optimise it for our responsive platforms.

We’ve got some outreach to do. Building relationships, working with teams across Parliament, understanding what they're trying to do and showing them how we can help them achieve their goals.

We’ll use analytics, accessibility and search engine optimisation (SEO) tools to help teams understand how their content is performing, and how it can perform better.

This will involve collaboration with teams in PDS, from customer experience design (CXD) professions to our developer friends in the software engineering team.

Content that's accessible to everyone

Everyone should be able to access the information about Parliament they need, whoever they are. Our editors have a responsibility to meet that standard, and we have a responsibility to help them do that.

Building on the good work of the PDS accessibility project team, we’re going to help editors and their teams understand how to make their content more accessible, through training, guidance and support through our content community (more on that later).

This goes beyond our editors. We will also work with colleagues in PDS to make sure that the products and services we build are to the required accessibility standard.

Sustainable approach to content design

With the way a lot of our older systems were set up, we couldn’t manage our content processes, our editors, or our policies in the way that we wanted to.

We now have a chance to put sustainable processes and policies in place. This will give editors structured, consistent platforms to produce and manage content, and help ensure users experience consistent, accessible content across Parliament’s digital offer.

We want to implement the website archiving policy we’ve put together, moving news content that’s older than 12 months to Parliament's webarchive so that users know it’s not the latest information, but can still search for older items.

Clear the clutter

We want to do something similar for the intranet too.

By removing all those job adverts and newsletters from years past and other outdated content, we can clear the clutter, making it easier to find what we’re looking for, and trust that it’s up to date information.

And we’re putting together an image and media policy to help us manage them better and give our users the best experience possible across our platforms.

Benchmarking our progress

We’ll measure the success of this work, working with CXD colleagues to set up benchmarking and KPIs, so we can see where we’ve made improvements, and where there’s more work to be done.

We have a style guide that we share with all our editors. It gives a consistent approach to how we format dates, bullet points, quote marks, when things should be capitalised (and when they shouldn’t), grammar, and how we spell an A to Z list of words. All that good content stuff.

We’ve worked with teams across the Commons, the Lords and PDS to put this together, but it’s not the only style guide in Parliament. Our job now is to try and get a single style guide that works for everyone, and that gives our editors a consistent experience across our digital offer.

Creating a content community

This is a big one for us, and goes back to our aim of creating a content culture in Parliament. We want to:

  • give our editors the opportunity to learn more about content design, clear writing, creating accessible content, and SEO
  • open this community up to staff across Parliament, to build an understanding of the importance of providing clear and accessible content as a public organisation that doesn’t exclude people
  • create a space where colleagues can access all the guidance and resources they need, ask questions, and build their knowledge
  • offer training, organise talks, and share best practice.

All of this should mean that users, external or internal, can find and understand what they’re looking for. That’s an important, powerful thing for a national Parliament to be doing.

Next steps

As with all of our strategic thinking, this will be iterated on and developed as we go. I’ll be back to update you on our progress later in 2021.

If you have any questions about the content team strategy, or want to hear more about our work, add a comment below or get in touch with the content team.

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