Keep. It. Simple… Content design

‘To do our work, we all have to read a mass of papers. Nearly all of them are far too long. This wastes time, while energy has to be spent in looking for the essential points’ – Winston Churchill

1 March 2022

Focusing on the theme of content design, our February knowledge sharing webinar was aimed at comms professionals working in public services within Wales. A CDPS senior content designer, Simon Busch, told us about the principles for writing effective, user-centred content. 

Content design is one of the fastest-growing job roles in the UK, according to a recent LinkedIn survey. The skillset involves looking at user needs, writing for those needs and making content accessible. 

These themes are also a big part of the Wales Digital Service Standards. The aim of the standards is to build better services, and content design is central to that goal.  

… and keep it short 

Simon gave examples of the importance of simple language to content design and explained why content designers avoid jargon and write in short sentences. He recommended the Hemingway app as a way of improving writing.

A good starting point when it comes to writing for public services in Wales is the GOV.WALES style guide.

Simon also talked about developing user stories and user journeys. These are ways for content designers to focus on the information a user needs to complete a task. We’ve previously blogged about how the National Library for Wales has used this method to make its services more user-centred. 

Don’t say:​
empower (use ‘allow’)​  incentivise (use ‘encourage’) ​  facilitate (use ‘run’) ​  going forward (use ‘from now on’)​  slim down (use ‘make smaller)
Simple language is central to content design

Content design at the Office for National Statistics 

After Simon, we heard from the content design team at the Office for National Statistics (ONS).  

The team told us about the barriers to content design they had overcome, including having to establish themselves as experts within the organisation. They needed to get staff to consider user needs when writing content and to follow consistent style guidelines. Accessibility was another important area where they needed support from staff.  

The ONS presentation focused on how the team had applied content design principles to two aspects of their work: statistical bulletins and census data. Identifying who their audience was, and then doing further research with these users, has made a big difference in how people engage with ONS content.  

Quantitative user research
We created dashboards that pull analytics, search data, reading age and depth into one place
User research has made a big difference to users’ engagement with ONS content

We’ve time stamped the webinar recording so that you can jump to bits you’re interested in.  

Our next knowledge sharing webinar will be on 16 March, 11.30am – 12.30pm. 

This will be a panel discussion including the Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters, on the digital strategy for Wales – one year on. 

Book your place.  

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