Summary

How to create effective content.


What it is

When we speak about written content in government, we mean any piece of information which aims to communicate with the public. This could be:

  • web content
  • letters
  • scripts
  • paper leaflets or guides

Why it’s important

Reading information online is harder than reading it on paper. People tend to scan online information to find what they need and avoid reading large amounts of text.

Content design tools and techniques make it easier for people to read online information. This includes things like:

  • content structure – how we structure our content to make it quick and easy to absorb its purpose
  • language and readability – writing in plain English, using short, simple sentences, makes content accessible to the widest possible audience
  • consistency – adopting a consistent tone, using a style guide and following best practice in and accessibility standards helps build trust in high-quality content
  • collaborative approach – involving the right people in your content creation will help make sure it’s accurate, consistent and meets your users’ needs

How you do it

At the point you start writing content, you should be clear on what you are writing and why.

Your content plan will set the context for your content and you should already have chosen the appropriate content format to best suit the needs of your users.

You should also be clear about the roles and responsibilities of those involved. These will have be documented in your content strategy.

When writing content, you should:

  • put the most important information up front – don’t make people work hard to find out what your content is about
  • use keywords
  • make it easy to scan – break up content with subheadings and short bulleted lists
  • use accessible language – write using words users use about your topic
  • remember less is more – tell people what they need to know (and no more) in the simplest way possible

Pair writing

Pair writing is an alternative to the traditional approach of exchanging drafts between a content creator and stakeholders by working together to create user-centred content.

Make your content discoverable

As well as writing accessible content, it’s also important to structure and tag your content so that it is easily discoverable in searches, using the right keywords, and following appropriate content metadata and tagging processes.

Reviewing

Once you have a draft piece of content, you should submit it for peer review and fact checking.

Resources

Blog posts