Not more content. Smarter content.

By Beth Mukushi on 20th May 2020

We have all had to scramble over the past eight weeks. For many of us this has meant producing new content in a bit of a panic. 

There have been fantastic examples of content that meets a need. For example, I volunteered as a street champion. My local community group sent a concise email giving guidance about what I could do safely and in line with government guidance. I was able to act on it immediately

Unfortunately there are also lots of examples of information overload. Many organisations are producing content that overwhelms, or duplicates.

At best this is a waste of time. At worst this clutters up search traffic, and prevents people from getting to life saving information.

Our DigiShift call on 14 May explored these issues with the help of two leading experts.

Sarah Richards defined the term ‘content design’ in the early days of GOV.UK. She talked with passion about the basic rules we should all be following.

Be clear about why you are publishing. You should have a content strategy and be clear about the user needs you are meeting. This doesn’t need to be huge, just one side of A4 might do it.   

Only publish when you can add something. The NHS provides health information. There is no need for your organisation to duplicate this. This great piece on communicating clearly gives more detail.

Define what success means. It is too easy to think that publishing equals success. You need to be digging deeper. For example, if you have short FAQs then success might be a high bounce rate. You would expect people to get the information they need in less than 20 seconds, and then leave.

Simon Kaplan is Head of Content for Citizens Advice.

He explained that they provide tactical advice. Every piece of content is designed to help a user do something. They have been working at pace to respond to the crisis. He shared practical tips about how citizens advice use data to understand needs and success.

Use data and iterate. Citizens advice have updated their main coronavirus page over 100 times since early March.  They use a range of tools to help understand what users are searching for, and how they are engaging with the content. Free tools for charities include google analytics, google trends and hotjar.

Signpost with meaning. If someone else is producing content, and you need to signpost to it then provide a useful link. Do not just give a ‘find out more’ that takes you to a homepage.

Share what you are learning. Citizens advice are open about what they learn, and how they make content decisions. They publish on a medium blog, which has loads of useful posts, including ‘why we removed the most visited advice page on our website’.

If you missed the call you can catch up via our DigiListen podcast – it is well worth 40 minutes of your time.

If you are new to content design these great resources will get you started: