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 offer a wide range of training courses to meet the needs of government publishers and policy professionals.

Courses are mostly held at the Hotel Novotel London City South near London Bridge.

Available courses

We run the following courses regularly:

  • writing for GOV.UK (1 day)
  • using Whitehall Publisher (1 day)
  • writing for GOV.UK as a press officer (1 day)
  • publishing statistics on GOV.UK (1 day)
  • how to publish finders on GOV.UK (1 day)
  • how to publish manuals on GOV.UK (3 hours)
  • collaborating on content: pair writing and content crits (1 day)
  • user needs and user journey mapping for content designers (1 day)
  • writing clear digital content: ‘train the trainer’ (1 day)

How to book

Ask your GOV.UK lead, a managing editor or a user manager in your organisation if you want to sign up for a course. 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 links to Eventbrite. We also anounce course dates in the government content community in Basecamp.

Training outside London

If you have a group of people who need specialist training, we can send a trainer to you to run a course. You’ll need to provide a room with a screen, good internet access and computers for 8 to 12 people

You’ll need to tell us:

  • what type of training you want
  • where you want to run it
  • when you want to run it
  • how many people you want to train
  • if we can offer spaces to other organisations in the area (particularly if you don’t have enough people to fill the course)

Ask your GOV.UK lead to request training where you are.

Change mainstream content

The GOV.UK content team at GDS manages ‘mainstream’ content on GOV.UK.

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 don’t have 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
  • the consequences for users if the change isn’t 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 can’t 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.

The GOV.UK content team can make changes faster and more easily when requests are clearly written and in plain English. Avoid using acronyms, jargon and legal language. Be precise - mention the exact phrase or word that’s problematic.

It’s fine to send suggested wording if it helps to explain what’s changed. However, the GOV.UK content team can’t 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 don’t 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 doesn’t 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 can’t 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 don’t 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.

Policy

Only GDS editors can create a new policy.

You must contact GDS to:

  • ask for a new policy
  • change the name of an existing policy
  • delete a policy
  • change the wording of the summary

GDS will discuss the reasons for the change with you, help make sure the changes are in line with GOV.UK style and also that they don’t duplicate any existing content. GDS may also discuss changes with the Policy Implementation Unit in Cabinet Office.

If you’re not the policy’s lead organisation, discuss your proposed changes with them first.

New policies

A new policy or sub-policy might be needed if:

  • a genuinely new issue has arisen, which isn’t covered by other policies
  • an action in an existing policy has become significant enough that it needs to become a policy in its own right
  • the government has decided to introduce a new approach to an issue

Before requesting a new policy you should make sure it’s not the same as, or already covered by, another policy.

Sub-topic

Only a GOV.UK lead or managing editor in your organisation can create sub-topics. We’ll work with you on the best solution for your specialist users based on the highest priority needs first.

Request a sub-topic.

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 can’t 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, eg in a policy page or 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.

High-profile group

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

High-profile groups 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 and The Shareholder Executive.

To qualify as a high-profile group, 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 high-profile groups 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 high-profile group.

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 won’t 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 can’t use an existing personal Google account, or add your work email to it as a backup address.

Google Analytics reports

If you don’t 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 don’t know who has access.

If you need more help, you can make a request through the support form. If you don’t 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 don’t 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 don’t add downtime messages

We generally don’t 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 can’t 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 can’t 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 can’t 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

You 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

How to request a translation

Fill in the content change form to ask GDS to publish a Welsh translation of ‘mainstream’ content.

Send the translated content with the request. Your department may have a Welsh language unit that can do the translation.

Set out complex content in a table. Add a new line for each heading and section of the guide, with the English on the left and Welsh on the right.

English Welsh
Contact Jobcentre Plus Cysylltu â’r Ganolfan Byd Gwaith
How you contact Jobcentre Plus depends on the help you need, for example finding a job, changing an appointment, checking an existing claim or making a new claim or complaint. Mae sut rydych chi’n cysylltu â’r Ganolfan Byd Gwaith yn dibynnu ar yr help sydd ei angen arnoch chi – er enghraifft dod o hyd i swydd, newid apwyntiad, gwirio cais neu wneud cais newydd neu gwyno.

Ask the translator to include encoding for special characters and check that links to other content point to Welsh language content where possible.

Provide a Welsh meta description with the request. Send link text (and a header, if the content doesn’t fit in an existing section) for the Welsh index page.

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

Read the policy about Welsh language on GOV.UK.