Department of Health: Content planning
How the DH put users first
The wisdom of crowds may be helpful if you’re buying a hoover, but it’s less so (if not downright dangerous) if you think you have swine flu.
As online diagnosis tools proliferate, authoritative (even prescriptive) information is sometimes just what the doctor ordered.
The Department of Health needed reassurance that its site was utterly reliable, bang up-to-date, fast and easy to access, so it could cut through the digital noise.
Based on a review of two representative sections of dh.gov.uk, we recommended a logical content structure and mapped the existing content against it, to identify anything that needed revising or repurposing.
Once we’d tested the new information architecture with key users and stakeholders, we produced:
- content templates
- a hierarchy of landing pages
- a styleguide, which we used to standardise the content and metadata.
The copy needed to be easy to digest without compromising accuracy or authority. This involved diplomacy as well as editorial skills, to demonstrate to scientific policymakers that simplifying isn’t the same as dumbing down.
User testing helped make the finished site easy to navigate, with most information accessible in no more than three clicks – and that information was current, succinct and nailed to the styleguide.
As an added bonus, we helped to identify who within the Department owns what content, and to raise awareness of the importance of online communication among staff.