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Building our content design capability

Author: Liberty Howard

building-design-content-capability
  • Service User centred design
  • Date 08 September 2021

Content design is the art of using content to address people’s needs, by showing them the right content, in the right format at the right time.

Good content design incorporates writing, UX design and accessibility to ensure a simple and pleasant experience for citizens using your website, product or service. It’s always been a part of the work we do with our partners in the public sector and now we’re growing our capabilities further. As part of our commitment to working in the open, I’m thrilled to share the strategies we’ll be putting in place as we grow and develop our content design offer.

Supporting good content design

Citizens will always need to know what support they can get from their local council. Good content design means all residents will be able to independently understand and access this information when they need it. We don't just want to deliver this hands on content design work for our clients, we want to help them incorporate best practices into the work they do without us.

A realistic content design model will vary from client to client, depending on each organisation. But we can help them get to a greater level of maturity by looking at their processes for designing, managing and maintaining content. We'll suggest ways they can make improvements, even if they don’t have a dedicated content design team. This might look like:

  • teaching content design principles
  • suggesting a content publishing model or governance process
  • explaining how to check content for accessibility
  • nominating subject matter experts in different departments to pair write with
  • helping them sell the value of good content design to the rest of their organisation

Making content design accessible to everyone

There’ll always be pieces of work that need specialist content design knowledge. But we’re also passionate about making sure accessible content design thinking is weaved through every project. To help with this, we’re putting together an open content design toolkit. We want to make sure even when there isn't a content designer on the team, everyone knows how to:

  • write in plain English to gov.uknhs.uk and other public sector standards
  • make sure users get the right information at the right time and in the best format, considering digital and non-digital channels and experiences
  • design and test content to be fully accessible
  • design for personalisation and creating tailored experiences and information using data
  • design and test information architecture and ways of navigating content and information that meet people’s needs

In time, this toolkit will evolve to become a resource we share with our clients to help them embed content design into their organisations after we leave. This will give them the tools and capabilities to accelerate change independently.

We’ll also be working with Principal Consultants to recognise what work could benefit the most from content design specialists, and when. Sometimes content designers are needed at the beginning or throughout a project. For example, if there are complex information architecture needs or a lot of content to design or edit. Other times, the content design team can support by reviewing the content at different points of delivery, rather than being part of the core team.

Growing our team

We’re increasing our content design capability in house by hiring more specialists and continuing to work with our trusted partners. This means our content designers will gain more experience across the public sector. They’ll be heavily involved in projects where they're not currently being used, bringing their fresh perspectives and unique value to increase reach, influence and impact. Working across the organisation they’ll be involved in everything from joining up with our design researchers to help discover how users talk about services to partnering with our tech team on making products accessible.


Liberty Howard's avatar

Liberty Howard

Head of Content Design


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