Content design and management — overview
Content design is about understanding people's needs and writing and structuring web content so people can easily find and understand information. Content management is about keeping content up to date and improving it after it's published.
Writing web content is only 1 part of content design. It also involves looking at:
- user needs and research
- user experience
- content structure
- plain language
- search engine optimisation (SEO)
Designing content helps people to find and understand the information they need from government quickly and easily.
Content design process
The content design process is similar to a service design approach and the digital lifecycle. It starts with a research phase and doesn't end after content is live as ongoing improvements continue.
Content design and maintenance should be thought about early on in the digital lifecycle when digital products, like websites and services, are being developed. People producing content should work closely with:
- stakeholders and subject matter experts
- user researchers
- service designers
- UX designers.
NZ Government Web Standards
You must meet the requirements of the NZ Web Accessibility and Web Usability Standards when designing web content.
Designing your content to meet specific user needs, and presenting it in ways that work for them, means that people can:
- find what they are looking for
- trust government information and services
- access information easily
- complete their tasks quickly and easily.
It also means you can spend less time helping people to complete tasks in other ways, for example over the phone.
Planning how you're going to maintain your content after the go-live means you can:
- keep the information up to date and user-focused
- make improvement based on user feedback and analytics
- be realistic about the resources you'll need.
How to write for the web
Writing for the web is a big part of content design. It involves thinking about:
- the purpose of the page and the user's needs
- how people read and process information in an online environment
- how search engines and machines, like screen readers, read online content
- the user's reading ability, the device they may be using, their computer literacy and their familiarity with your subject.
Content structure is about how you break information up to leverage what you know about how people read information online.
Remove jargon, use simple words and get rid of redundant words. This will make content easier to scan and improve accessibility.
Search engine optimisation
You can use keywords in page content and meta-data to help search engines prioritise your pages.
Writing link text
Link text should be descriptive and contain keywords.
Content quality checklist
A list to help you make sure you have covered all the requirements before you publish.
Content needs to be kept up to date after it's published. You should consider:
- who owns the content and their responsibilities
- who within your team will maintain content after it's published
- what tools you'll use to keep on top of timely updates, for example a notification system in your CMS
- how user feedback will be used to improve content
- how insights from analytics will be used to improve content.