Designing content, not creating copy

Good content design allows people to do or find out what they need simply and quickly using the most appropriate content format available. It is based on research into the behaviour of our users, analytics and feedback.

Public services have a tendency to publish content that is more focused on what it wants to say than what the user needs to know. This makes content difficult to understand and act on.

This can result in frustrated users (residents and professionals) who can’t find the information they need or complete the tasks they come to our website for. We can avoid this on our website by basing what we publish on research into user behaviour and what users actually need.

Content design always starts with user needs

When we talk about content design we mean taking a user need and presenting it on our website in the best way possible.

Before publishing to our website, you need to know your users’ needs and design your content around them.

For more detail on how to do this, read the section on user needs.

Content strategy and design

Depending on what your user needs are, you may need to:

  • reduce the amount of content you plan to publish
  • split one big piece of content into smaller pieces
  • change the format of the content
  • remove content from the site
  • request a new format to meet the needs of your users
  • publish your content elsewhere, like a partner site or social media

You’ll need to consider all of this when planning your content.

You will also need to consider how long the content will stay on our website and what will happen to it after it’s out of date.

Designing by writing great content

Writing great content clearly, in plain English, and optimised for the web helps people understand and find the information they need quickly and easily.

This guidance and our style guide are based on research about how people use the internet. They show how to write great content.

Designing to avoid duplication

Content design also involves making sure content can be easily found on a site with over 500 content items (as of December 2017).

Duplicate content produces poor search results, confuses the user and damages the credibility of Bromley MyLife as a brand.

Users end up using offline channels, like calling a helpline, because they aren’t sure they have all the information or the right information.

Applying all of these content design principles mean we do the hard work for the user. But the reward is a site that is simpler, clearer and faster for both our local services and residents.