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Representatives from government organisations and vendors have been working together to explore how we can build a common structured content model to create, share and consume standardised digital content.

The third and final workshop, hosted by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), was held on 19 November 2019.

The structured content model is part of wider work that DIA’s Government Information Services (GIS) team is doing to support the development of a common structured content model and a content reuse solution.

This work will help to create a seamless user experience for people when dealing with government.

Purpose of the workshops

The first workshop in early October 2019 set the scene for this work and focused on breaking down content into components.

Structured content — Workshop 1

The second workshop in early November was about coming to a common understanding about how we might label and define those components.

Structured content — Workshop 2

The goal for the third workshop was to take the refined set of 33 components from Workshop 2 and think about — from a user perspective — how they could be grouped to build up a process flow.

We wanted to begin to define where components might appear together in a structured content model.

What happened

The workshop participants were divided into small groups and asked to approach the task of sorting the 33 components from the point of view of one of the all-of-government mindsets.

All-of-government mindsets

The exercise unearthed some high-level patterns, but also highlighted areas that need to be defined more carefully.

Workshop participants using flipcharts to sort and group content components.

Workshop participants took the 33 components and grouped them from the point of view of different mindsets

Separating types of components

It became clear we needed to separate components that describe a page or topic (for example, ‘Last updated’, ‘Feedback’, ‘Page title’) from components that describe a process (for example, ‘What you get’, ‘Cost’, ‘Product / service description’, ‘Timeframes’).

They needed to be treated differently. Page descriptors are more likely to be treated as metadata components rather than content components that describe a process.

Category grouping and naming

There was variation in the wording the participants chose for labelling groups of components, but the intent of the labels tended to follow similar patterns to the way people usually step through a process:

  • before you start
  • description (about)
  • process — mix of ‘action’ and ‘descriptive’ components put together in different ways
  • next steps
  • related info (related / more info)
  • page info / descriptors (site information components)

Some of the variation in the component groupings can be attributed to thinking about how people with different mindsets and motivations would want to find information or access a service.

Duplication

We wanted to see which components could be interpreted in more than one way and how this might affect where participants placed them in the process flow. So we allowed people to create duplicate cards for components and to place them where they thought they were necessary.

Components that were most often duplicated included:

  • tip
  • cost
  • examples.

There was also duplication across topics providing:

  • information describing how to do the process (for example, defining pre-requisites and giving a summary of the process, or a timeline)
  • guidance for actually doing the process (for example, detailed step-by-step instructions, or active page elements like ‘apply now’ or a web form).

Understanding where topics can be logically duplicated will help us think about possible reuse of components within a pattern (as well as across different websites).

We also know we need to refine some definitions of components, where participants still felt confused about when and how components might be used. This lack of clarity was most obvious for process-specific components.

Prioritisation

We then asked each table to prioritise their top 5 components from the point of view of the mindset they’d been given. Across the groups, the components that came up most often were:

  • eligibility
  • timeframes
  • cost
  • how to apply
  • contact us.

What happens next — proof of concept

The next step will be to develop a technical proof of concept to show how we could use a structured content model to reuse and share content across agency websites.

We will start with the 5 prioritised components that were identified in this workshop.

The solution needs to be system agnostic and work with multiple content management systems, which will affect the way it needs to be designed.

If you would like to be kept up to date on progress, email info@digital.govt.nz

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