Make sure you’re speaking to the right subject matter experts throughout the publishing workflow.

Who they are

Stakeholders are anyone who can has an interest in, or will be affected by, what you’re designing. They can include organisations, people or services.

Why they’re important

You need to make sure any content you design is endorsed by the organisation, service or department you’re designing with. You should know who your stakeholders are at all stages of the content lifecycle.

Creating an effective relationship with stakeholders smooths the content design process and ensures the ‘fact check’ or ‘sign off’ stages of your publication workflow run smoothly.

Stakeholders are especially important during the discovery and publication stages. Work with them to:

  • check your theories
  • test content
  • align against business objectives

Working with the right stakeholders ensures you are creating and designing content that is a business requirement.

The presence of, and constructive feedback from, engaged stakeholders (especially subject matter experts) is vital when you’re trying to ensure live content is kept factually accurate and fit for purpose.

How you do it

Carry out stakeholder mapping - who does your project affect and what influence do they have?

  1. identify and approach stakeholder(s)
  2. determine their influence, availability and interest
  3. establish stakeholder map and communications plan

Once you have your stakeholder map, identify the following roles (the same people may cover multiple roles):

  • content owners
  • fact checkers
  • subject matter experts

Throughout the project you must continue to influence and engage stakeholders. When you have to do this depends on your content plan and product or content workflow.

You’ll need to:

  • plan and lead workshops - to explain what you’re doing, why, what you’re asking people to do and what the benefits of your project will beshow
  • create consistent and clear communications for stakeholders
  • show and tell stakeholders what you are doing, via workshops, meetings, emails, calls, show and tells, and/or staging sites

Try to always be honest and transparent in your approach.

Roles and responsibilities of typical stakeholders

The final sign off and escalation point for content. It’s recommended that this is a member of a senior management team.

Content Designer

The individuals responsible for the content creation process from discovery through to publishing. They’re responsible for incorporating changes from peers and subject matter experts.

Subject matter expert (SME)

Subject matter experts are ideally frontline staff who provide direct support to service users, e.g. call handlers or advisors. They have first-hand knowledge of customer pain points, queries and success stories.

This first-hand expertise is critical in helping design a good user experience. They are responsible for alerting content designers to any major policy or service changes that might affect content. Their expertise will be critical in helping design a seamless user experience.

Fact checker

Fact checkers make sure content is accurate and up to date, and provide information on where gaps exist. They don’t need to be service users day to day but are responsible for understanding legislative frameworks and policies for your organisation. They’re not expected to write content but provide guidance, source relevant documents, and review content and user journeys.

Similar to fact checkers, though they check the information against law and legal guidelines.

Project sponsor

This is the Senior Responsible Officer (SRO), the final sign off and escalation point for the project. It’s recommended that this is a member of the organisation’s senior management team.

Single point of contact (SPOC)

This individual is responsible for co-ordinating or project managing the activity for the project. Requests should be triaged through this contact, which avoids duplication or communication issues.

Content owner

The content owner should provide relevant policy information and have ultimate responsibility for the content’s accuracy.

Once content is live, the content owner has a duty to the user to make sure it’s accurate and up to date. This means regular checks, particularly when there are legislation or policy changes.

Good examples

Useful resources