Support for government publishers

Request a thing

Ask the Government Digital Service for publishing access, advice, training or to create something new.

Whitehall publisher accounts

If you’re the GOV.UK lead or a managing editor in your organisation, you can request:

New publishers must complete training before they can have an account.

Training

We’re spending a few weeks reviewing our current training offer and delivery model to ensure it’s keeping pace with the needs of government policy and civil servants.

During July and August 2018 we will be limiting our existing classroom-based training so we can spend time on the review.

Also during this period we’ll not typically be able to run advanced or bespoke training, or run courses outside of London.

If your organisation directly supports policy relating to EU Exit and you have a content training need, please gov.uk-training@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk.

Available course

Writing and publishing on GOV.UK (1 day) - usually held at the Government Digital Service in Aldgate, London.

If you need to publish content on GOV.UK then you’ll need to attend this course. You’ll learn how to write for online audiences, will get familiar with the GOV.UK style guide and approach to publishing digital content. And you’ll learn how to use the GOV.UK publishing tool. At the end of the course, you’ll be able to write and publish content on GOV.UK.

Ask your GOV.UK lead, a managing editor or a user manager in your organisation if you want to sign up. If they approve, they’ll send you a link to sign up in Eventbrite.

Every month we email GOV.UK leads and managing editors course dates and registration links to Eventbrite. We also announce course dates in the Government content community Basecamp.

Change GOV.UK content

The GOV.UK content team at GDS manages ‘mainstream’ content on GOV.UK. This is any content without government or publication in the URL, for example: https//www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

If you work for a department or agency which uses Whitehall Publisher to publish on GOV.UK, your content is likely to be ‘Whitehall’ content, not mainstream. This means any content with government or publication in the URL, for example: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs. Also, if the page has the name of a department or agency tagged to it, for example: ‘From: Foreign & Commonwealth Office’, this means it’s Whitehall content.

Your department or agency is responsible for changing this content. Talk to your organisation’s publishing team if you’re not sure.

For technical issues, or to request a change in functionality, read the guidance on support requests.

To request a change to mainstream content, use the GOV.UK content change form. You need a Signon account to access the form. If you need one, ask your department’s GOV.UK Lead.

What to include in your request

The GOV.UK content team can work on your request faster if you include:

  • a clear and specific title (not ‘content update’)
  • what needs to change and why (focus on the user need)
  • the consequences for users if the change is not made
  • who is affected (giving numbers of users affected if possible)
  • any evidence for the change, such as call centre feedback, anonymous feedback from GOV.UK, user research or policy change
  • any deadline (or embargo) for the change and why - give as much notice as you can

The GOV.UK content team cannot always open tracked change documents, so explain as much as you can in the request itself.

What needs to change and why

The most important thing is the user need, not the government need.

Write your request clearly and in plain English. Avoid acronyms, jargon and legal language.

It’s fine to send suggested wording if it helps to explain what’s changed. However, the GOV.UK content team cannot put your copy straight onto GOV.UK, even if it’s ‘signed off’. They are responsible for presenting information in way that users will understand.

What happens next

Your request becomes a ticket in a system called ‘Zendesk’. You’ll get a confirmation email with a ticket number. Read about the steps involved in getting something published.

If something changes and you need to update the request, follow the link in the confirmation email to update the ticket in Zendesk.

How your request is prioritised

The change will usually be made within a working day if the person dealing with it can make the change in less than 20 minutes. Things like updating a fee or phone number usually fall into this category.

If the request is more complex, or embargoed, it will be assigned to the team that handles that topic or subject area so they can respond to you and prioritise it.

Your request will be prioritised according to:

  • deadlines, for example if a policy change going to affect content starting on a certain day or if a new service is going to be launched
  • the impact on the user
  • the nature of the change, for example if it’s just editorial (rather than factual)
  • how old the request is

Content advice

You can ask for content advice from the GDS content team. This could be about:

It may be a quick question about content you’re working on or a request for a formal response you can share with colleagues in your organisation. Whatever the nature of your request, you need to clearly explain:

  • what you need
  • what your deadline is

This will help us prioritise the work and understand how much detail to give in our response.

Request content advice.

Short URL

You should read the URL standards for GOV.UK before making a request for a short URL. All GOV.UK URLs must meet these standards.

You can request a short URL if you’re the GOV.UK lead or a managing editor in your organisation.

Types of short URL

There are 3 types of short URL on GOV.UK.

Content owned by a single organisation

This is the most common type of short URL. It includes the organisation name within the URL structure, and usually points to departmental and policy-related content.

Example: https://www.gov.uk/hmrc/information-charter

Campaigns and heavily promoted content

We usually need evidence that a short URL will be heavily promoted offline before allocating a ‘root-level’ URL.

These URLs do not have dashes in them. The final format depends heavily on how they’ll be used, eg in radio ads or in print.

The case for these URLs is stronger if content comes from more than 1 government department or agency.

Example: https://www.gov.uk/budget2014 or https://www.gov.uk/newlicencerules

Organisation or agency name

Most organisations on GOV.UK already have a short URL for their organisation homepage – it’s usually part of the transition process. If your organisation does not have one yet, ask your GOV.UK lead or a managing editor to request one using the GOV.UK support form.

Example: https://www.gov.uk/defra

How to request a short URL

Submit a new feature request for a short URL at least 2 weeks before you need it.

When asking for a short URL, you’ll need to provide evidence that:

  • your short URL is needed for offline marketing and promotion (eg number of existing users with this need, number of users who will be targeted, expected size and duration of the user need or campaign)
  • the URL is specific to the content and will make sense forever - the more specific the URL, the easier this is to prove (eg https://www.gov.uk/budget2014)
  • how many government departments or organisations will create or own the content the short URL points to

Remember, URLs cannot have capital letters in them.

What happens next

Someone from the GDS product team will get in touch with you within 2 days to discuss your request.

If GDS accepts your request, the next step is to agree the wording of your proposed short URL. Ideally, we’d like to confirm the words in the future short URL as early as possible.

When your short URL goes live

For technical reasons, GDS can only create short URLs for live content. You should make sure your content is published by the date you need the short URL to be live.

Because short URLs can only point to live content, please do not publicise your short URLs until both the content and the short URL are live. If you do it before they’re live, you’ll just send your users to a ‘This page cannot be found’ error page.

Topics

If there’s no topic that describes what your content is about, you can suggest a new one.

You’ll need to include:

  • evidence of why a new topic should be created, if you have any
  • where you think the new topic should sit in the topic tree
  • examples of pages you think should be tagged to the new topic

Suggesting a change to a topic

You can also suggest changes to a topic, including:

  • renaming a topic
  • removing a topic
  • repositioning a topic in the topic tree
  • merging with another topic
  • splitting a topic into multiple topics

Blog

The decision to create a new blog is largely down to the GOV.UK lead or a managing editor in your organisation. If approved, GDS will provide the WordPress platform.

How to request a blog

  1. Talk to someone from your organisation’s digital team to discuss your request for a blog. All new blogs need to be approved by the GOV.UK lead or a managing editor in your organisation before you contact GDS.

  2. Complete a blog request form (contact blogeditors@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk for an alternative version if you cannot access the form). All new blog requests are dealt with in the order they’re received and may take up to one month to process from the date you submit your request.

  3. GDS will review your blog’s proposition, and check that you have the capability to support the blog. GDS will then discuss the request with you.

  4. If approved, GDS will ask you to provide a blog content plan for the first 2 months, an audience profile for your blog, and a draft of your first 3 blog posts.

  5. GDS will tell you what you need to do before your blog goes live.

Learn more about why and how to run a blog.

Group

You must get approval from GDS before creating a new group on GOV.UK. Groups include policy advisory groups and other types of groups including units, teams and committees.

Group pages should only be set up where there is:

  • evidence of a user need for information about the group itself, not just its outputs
  • a clear reason for users to contact the group

Group pages should not be used as a way of setting out:

  • the internal structure of an organisation (ie representing every team)
  • activities performed by a group (eg documents published) without a call to action

Most groups will not need a group page, because people should not need to understand the structure of government in order to interact with it. Usually a reference to the group elsewhere on GOV.UK, for example in a document collection, will be sufficient.

Only a GOV.UK lead or managing editor in your organisation can request a new group.

Policy advisory groups

Policy advisory groups are panels of people who advise on policy development, typically made up of a mix of external experts and civil servants - like the Advisory Group on Hepatitis.

The user need for a policy advisory group page is transparency. The public should be able to see who is advising on and influencing government policy.

Other groups

Other groups include units, teams, committees etc within, set up or sponsored by a government organisation, and who carry out specific areas of work - like the Neighbourhood planning team.

Sub-organisation

If you’re the GOV.UK lead or a managing editor in your organisation, you can ask for a sub-organisation to be created. Contact GDS using the GOV.UK support form.

Sub-organisations are large units within organisations which, while they formally exist under the governance of their parent organisation:

  • have the properties of a separate organisation
  • are seen by the public as having a separate identity

For example Border Force.

To qualify as a sub-organisation, a unit should:

  • be well-known and public-facing (there should be evidence that the public are searching for it by name)
  • have a regular output of content, published under its name (rather than that of the parent department)
  • have a clear mission statement and corporate structure separate from its parent organisation (eg, a board, reporting directly to a permanent secretary or minister)
  • be contactable directly by the public

We also expect sub-organisations to have:

  • a publishing team with the resource to manage their profile page and content
  • a parent department who agree that a separate corporate online presence is essential to the implementation of their digital strategy

Request a new sub-organisation.

Manual

A document may be a manual if it has a specialist audience who are familiar with the topic and:

  • it requires at least 2 levels of hierarchy (ie it is broken down into sections and sub-sections)
  • it has chapters or sections that users refer to by name
  • it’s too long to be easily readable in an HTML publication or detailed guide
  • users think of it as a single body or document
  • it’s a legal or guidance document which needs to be browsable
  • it will not duplicate a PDF or document published elsewhere on GOV.UK

Any request for a new manual must show:

  • the content has clear user needs
  • what the source content is
  • what else is covered on GOV.UK on the topic

Find out more about the manuals content type.

You must be the GOV.UK lead or a managing editor in your organisation to request permission to create a manual.

Campaign

In principle, avoid creating brand new campaign destinations.

GDS approval is needed for all new websites, microsites and public-facing domains set up by central government. This applies whether or not the .gov.uk domain is being used.

GOV.UK offers government organisations a range of options to support campaigns:

Read our guidance on campaigns on GOV.UK to find out more about exemptions, campaign microsites and campaign pages.

How to request a campaign page

Talk to GDS as early as possible about what you want to do. The GOV.UK Lead or your Digital Leader should submit a campaign request form.

Before asking for a campaign page you should think about:

  • could you direct users to the existing mainstream page instead - you might just be adding an extra step between the user and the content they need
  • will your campaign page be competing with existing guidance - more established pages will likely rank higher in search

Promotional material

Some campaigns produce materials such as leaflets, posters and toolkits for users to download and print. If you have a lot of items, you can publish a list of them using collection pages, as the Think! road safety campaign has done.

Topical event page

You should read the description of Topical event pages before making a request.

If you request one, you’ll need to demonstrate that your event:

  • is of significance to the majority of GOV.UK’s users, including the general public (eg the event is featured on the Today programme and other major news media)
  • is the responsibility of central government
  • will involve activity by a number of government departments and agencies
  • is likely to generate a high volume of content (ie not just one or two news stories)
  • is only relevant for a specific length of time

Only the GOV.UK lead or a managing editor in your organisation can request a topical event page. Use the support form if you’d like to set one up so we can decide if it’s the right thing for your content.

Ministerial role

See the section on people and roles for guidance on making changes to the list of government ministers on GOV.UK.

User needs validation

A panel of experienced GDS content designers validates all user needs, including working with organisations to make sure their needs are valid.

Validated user needs associated with content in the Maslow tool appear on /info pages (eg gov.uk/info/find-weighbridge).

Get your user needs assessed by using the support form. There’s sometimes a backlog of needs to look at so let us know if there’s a deadline.

Analytics

Google Analytics accounts

Your analytics single point of contact must request access to Google Analytics for you.

GDS will only give analytics access to people with a government email account.

You’ll need to create a Google account with your work email address. You cannot use an existing personal Google account, or add your work email to it as a backup address.

Google Analytics reports

If you do not have a Google Analytics account, you must request reports from someone with Google Analytics access within your own organisation. Ask your GOV.UK lead if you do not know who has access.

If you need more help, you can make a request through the support form. If you do not have access to the support form, you should ask your GOV.UK lead.

Segmented reports will always be sampled.

Downtime messages

If you’re the GOV.UK lead for your organisation, you can request downtime messages for services we link to from GOV.UK.

Most downtime messages will take this format:

“This service will be unavailable from [date and time] to [date and time].”

If the service is down and you do not know when it will be up again, we can use one of the following:

“This service is currently unavailable.” “This service will be temporarily unavailable from [date and time].”

You should also add a downtime message to the service itself if possible.

When to request downtime

Tell us 5 working days in advance of the downtime. Give us as much time as possible if more than one service is affected. We’ll always try to give users at least a day’s notice of downtime.

How to submit a request

Create a content request (or ask your GOV.UK lead to if you’re not one) and tell us:

  • the url of the pages which needs the message (and the position of the link on the page if it’s an external service)
  • the date and time the service will be down
  • the date and time the service is going back up (if you know)
  • whether or not the downtime is confirmed

When we do not add downtime messages

We generally do not add downtime messages if:

  • the downtime is very short - under 2 hours (unless you send us data showing it would affect a high number of users)
  • it’s requested too late
  • there may be intermittent problems but no expected downtime
  • the service is only partially down - the service should present the downtime message in the appropriate place
  • it’s out of hours - we’ll make changes during working hours for scheduled and unscheduled downtime

Technical support requests

If a GOV.UK application stops working or you get an error, you should report it as a technical fault through the support form.

You should also:

  • take screenshots of the problem (if possible)
  • include the URL or link to the content you’re trying to publish or change
  • explain what you were trying to do and what happened

Give as much context as possible when reporting faults or errors.

Product requests

Product requests are changes to the look or functionality of a GOV.UK publishing application or to the way the site looks or works.

We cannot always make changes because product teams need to make sure the change:

  • supports good publishing practice
  • meets the needs of the majority of publishers using that application
  • meets the needs of general GOV.UK users
  • can fit within the work on our product roadmap

Most product changes will need evidence to support them or may need user research, so we cannot always make the change right away or tell you when it can be made.

When raising a product request you should include:

  • who the change would affect, for example publishers or the public
  • what is the problem
  • how big is the problem, for example does it stop you from publishing
  • how changing something would help the users affected

You can request product changes through the support form.

Product changes that cannot be made are:

  • aggregated and categorised for future roadmap work
  • reviewed regularly against the evidence supplied

Welsh-language translation

GOV.UK content leads at GDS analyse whether there’s a user need for the translation, taking into account how many people are looking at similar existing Welsh-language content on the site. If you’re not sure whether there’s a user need, speak to your GOV.UK content lead or ask via the support form.

User journeys and user need for Welsh translations

Your request is more likely to be prioritised if:

  • the content allows an end-to-end journey in Welsh - in particular, to a Welsh-language government service, offering offline support for Welsh-language users if needed
  • there’s evidence people in Wales are using a central government service

Read the policy about Welsh language on GOV.UK.

Ask GDS to publish a translation

How you do this depends on if you want to update an existing translation or publish a new one.

If you cannot provide a translation of mainstream content, GDS can arrange one from an accredited member of the Welsh Association of Translators and Interpreters.

Get new Welsh mainstream content published on GOV.UK

  1. Tell GDS that you want a Welsh version of mainstream GOV.UK content using the content requests form. Follow the normal process for requesting a change to mainstream content.

  2. GDS will send you the markdown for the current English version of the content in a document.

  3. Translate the content in the document, keeping the markdown. This will help to keep the formatting consistent between the English and Welsh versions of the content, and will allow GDS to publish the content more quickly. Replace links to English content with links to Welsh content, where it’s available.

  4. Send the document back to GDS.

  5. GDS will publish the Welsh version of the content and add it to the Welsh index.

Update existing Welsh mainstream content on GOV.UK

  1. When you request an update to content that has a Welsh version, include a note in the Zendesk ticket that the Welsh will need updating too.

  2. When work on the English version is done, GDS will send you the markdown for the current English version of the content in a document.

  3. Translate the content in the document, keeping the markdown. This will help to keep the formatting consistent between the English and Welsh versions of the content, and will allow GDS to publish the content more quickly. Replace links to English content with links to Welsh content, where it’s available.

  4. Tell GDS that the new Welsh version is ready to be published using the content requests form. Include the document with the new Welsh version when you make the request. Follow the normal process for requesting a change to mainstream content.

  5. GDS will publish the Welsh version of the content.

To request a featured slot on the GOV.UK homepage, use the GOV.UK content change form. You need a Signon account to access the form. If you need one, ask your department’s GOV.UK lead.

To get one of the 3 featured slots on the GOV.UK homepage, the content must:

  • be high profile (for example, the budget)
  • be time sensitive (for example, pay your Self Assessment tax return)
  • have a significant impact on a large number of people

Send the request at least 4 working days before you want the featured slot to go live.

When you make your request, you need to include:

  • a clear and specific title - ideally 25 characters or less
  • a one sentence description - ideally 75 characters or less
  • the link to the content - make sure the content is up to date and follows the GOV.UK style guide
  • a 960x640 image
  • the date you want the link to go live (and removed if appropriate)

We may remove your homepage feature without warning in the event of a major incident.