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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/content-designer-skills-they-need/content-designer-skills-they-need
This content is part of the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) Capability Framework which describes the skills and Civil Service competencies needed for each role in the DDaT Profession. Please send any feedback on this content, or of your experience using it, to: email@example.com.
1. What a content designer does
Content designers are responsible for creating, updating and reviewing content around the end-to-end user journey and are comfortable using evidence, data and research.
They build relationships across government to focus on the needs of the user and to influence stakeholders. They contribute to and use the style guides and design patterns.
2. What skills they need
A content designer needs a combination of specific technical skills and Civil Service competencies.
All roles have essential skills, and some have desirable skills.
Each skill has a skill level that ranges from ‘awareness’ to ‘expert’.
2.1 Essential skills
|Skill||Description of the skill||Skill level||What the skill level means|
|Stakeholder relationship management||Identifies, analyses, manages and monitors relationships with and between stakeholders. Able to communicate with stakeholders clearly and regularly, clarifying mutual needs and commitments through consultation and consideration of impacts whilst focusing on user needs. For example, managing customer and supplier relationships, ensuring that recommendations deliver maximum benefit and facilitating workshops with stakeholders.||Working||Identifies key stakeholders, tailoring communication to their needs, and works with teams to build relationships whilst also meeting user needs. Can take opposing views to reach consensus. Understands how to work with stakeholders and contributes to improving these relationships, using evidence to explain decisions made.|
|Strategic thinking||Able to have an overall perspective on business issues, events, activities and an understanding of their wider implications and long-term impact. This could include determining patterns, standards, policies, roadmaps and vision statements. Can focus on outcomes rather than solutions and activities.||Practitioner||Able to define strategies and policies, providing guidance to others on working in the strategic context. Evaluates current strategies to ensure business requirements are being met and exceeded where possible.|
|User-centred content design||Able to design content to meet user needs and make complex language and processes easy to understand. Understands and implements style and standards.||Working||Able to work autonomously. Creates effective content for digital channels.|
|User focus||Understands users and can identify who they are and what their needs are based on evidence. Able to translate user stories and propose design approaches or services to meet these needs and engages in meaningful interactions and relationships with users. Puts users first and can manage competing priorities.||Working||Identifies and engages with users and stakeholders to collate user needs evidence and understands and defines research which fits user needs. Able to use quantitative and qualitative data about users to turn user focus into outcomes.|
2.2 Desirable skills
|Skill||Description of the skill||Level of the skill||What the skill level means|
|Agile working||Is aware of and understands agile methodology and how to apply an agile mindset to all aspects of their work. Has the ability to work in a fast-paced, evolving environment and utilises an iterative method and flexible approach to enable rapid delivery. Unafraid to take risks, willing to learn from mistakes, and appreciates the importance of agile project delivery for digital projects in government. Able to ensure the team has a situational awareness of what each other is working on and how this relates to practical government objectives and user needs.||Practitioner||Able to identify and compare the best processes or delivery methods to use, including measuring and evaluating outcomes. Helps the team to decide the best approach. Able to help teams to manage and visualise outcomes, prioritise work and work to agreed minimum viable product (MVP), print and scope.|
|Prototyping||Able to apply technical knowledge and experience to create or design workable prototypes, both programmes and physical outputs. Understands parameters, restrictions and synergies.||Working||Knows when to use a specific prototyping technique or method (for example, sketch, code, Loc2). Able to show the value of prototyping to the team.|
3. Civil Service competencies
In the Civil Service, we use the Competency Framework to outline expected behaviours. Competencies are used as part of the assessment during the interview process.
3.1 Essential competencies
|Competency||Description||Interpretation for the job role|
|Collaborating and partnering||People skilled in this area are team players. At all levels, it requires working collaboratively, sharing information appropriately and building supportive, trusting and professional relationships with colleagues and a wide range of people within and outside the Civil Service, whilst having the confidence to challenge assumptions. For senior leaders, it’s about being approachable, delivering business objectives through creating an inclusive environment, welcoming challenge, however uncomfortable.||Builds supportive, trusting and professional relationships. Has the confidence to challenge assumptions and welcomes challenge, however uncomfortable. Is able to offer constructive criticism and to work in multidisciplinary teams.|
|Making effective decisions||Effectiveness in this area is about using sound judgment, evidence and knowledge to arrive at accurate, expert and professional decisions and advice. For all staff, it’s being careful and thoughtful about the use and protection of government and public information to ensure it is handled securely and with care. For leaders, it’s about reaching evidence-based strategies, evaluating options, impacts, risks and solutions and creating a security culture around the handling information. They will aim to maximise return while minimising risk and balancing a range of considerations to provide sustainable outcomes.||Understands how to approach complex challenges. Uses evidence such as data and evidence provided by user researchers, to make decisions. Explains decision-making to senior stakeholders. Is aware of security and data protection issues.|
|Delivering at pace||Effectiveness in this area means focusing on delivering timely performance with energy and taking responsibility and accountability for quality outcomes. For all staff, it’s about working to agreed goals and activities and dealing with challenges in a responsive and constructive way. For leaders, it is about building a performance culture where staff are given space, authority and support to deliver outcomes. It’s also about keeping a firm focus on priorities and addressing performance issues resolutely, fairly and promptly.||Is accountable for quality outcomes and remains responsive and agile.|
|Leading and communicating||At all levels, effectiveness in this area is about showing our pride and passion for public service, communicating purpose and direction with clarity, integrity, and enthusiasm. It’s about championing difference, external experience and supporting principles of fairness of opportunity for all. For leaders, it is about being visible, establishing a strong direction and persuasive future vision; managing and engaging with people in a straightforward, truthful, and candid way.||Champions user needs and helping teams to communicate. Has a passion for the profession and communicates the vision to the team clearly.|
|Changing and improving||People who are effective in this area take initiative, are innovative and seek out opportunities to create effective change. For all staff, it’s about learning from what has worked as well as what has not, being open to change and improvement, and working in ‘smarter’, more focused ways. For leaders, this is about creating and encouraging a culture of innovation and allowing people to consider and take informed decisions. Doing this well means continuously seeking out ways to improve policy implementation and build a leaner, more flexible and responsive Civil Service. It also means making use of alternative delivery models including digital and shared service approaches wherever possible.||Challenging ways of working and the status quo.|
|Seeing the big picture||Seeing the big picture is about having an in-depth understanding and knowledge of how your role fits with and supports organisational objectives and the wider public needs and the national interest. For all staff, it is about focusing your contribution on the activities which will meet Civil Service goals and deliver the greatest value. For leaders, it is about scanning the political context and taking account of wider impacts to develop long-term implementation strategies that maximise opportunities to add value to the citizen and support economic, sustainable growth||Challenges the end-to-end user journey. Advocates for the user and policy intent. Understands the context in which the organisation operates and chooses the right tools accordingly. Helps colleagues understand the value of content design and a user-centred approach.|
3.2 Desirable competencies
|Competency||Description||Interpretation for the job role|
|Managing a quality service||Effectiveness in this area is about valuing and modelling professional excellence and expertise to deliver service objectives, taking account of diverse customer needs and requirements. People who are effective plan, organise and manage their time and activities to deliver a high quality, secure, reliable and efficient service, applying programme, project and risk management approaches to support service delivery. For leaders, it is about creating an environment to deliver operational excellence and creating the most appropriate and cost-effective delivery models for public services.||Creates an environment in which operational excellence can be delivered and creates a positive, collaborative culture. Able to prioritise the right things.|
|Delivering value for money||Delivering value for money involves the efficient, effective and economic use of taxpayers’ money in the delivery of public services. For all staff, it means seeking out and implementing solutions which achieve the best mix of quality, and effectiveness for the least outlay. People who do this well base their decisions on evidenced information and follow agreed processes and policies, challenging these appropriately where they appear to prevent good value for money. For leaders, it’s about embedding a culture of value for money within their area/function. They work collaboratively across boundaries to ensure that the Civil Service maximises its strategic outcomes within the resources available.||Bases decisions on evidence. Challenges decisions appropriately. Embeds a culture of value for money.|
4. Other roles in content design
There are 5 other role levels in content design: