Campaigns on GOV.UK: standards and guidelines
Options to support promotions and marketing campaigns, from short URLs to dedicated landing pages.
What is a campaign?
A campaign is a time-limited promotional activity, with a specific and measurable outcome. All campaigns should have an end date and call to action.
Go to where users are. Citizens are more likely to see your campaign message on social media than they are to actively visit a website. There should be a good reason for users to visit your campaign page or website, otherwise very few people will see it.
Use campaign pages for:
- time-limited promotional activity
- informing citizens and persuading them to act (call to action)
Don’t use campaign pages for:
- publishing content that users don’t need or aren’t interested in
- generic news announcements, statutory guidance or policy updates
- duplicating information already on GOV.UK
- essential information about government services, this content should be on GOV.UK
Read the Government Communication Service campaign guidance and example case studies for more information.
How to get your campaign online
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.
Get approval for your campaign from your department’s Head of Digital before going to GDS.
The only exceptions are if the sites belong to categories that are formally exempted from GOV.UK - for example, museums or the armed forces.
When developing a campaign, talk to GDS as early as possible. This helps formal approval processes later on.
- Talk to your organisation’s GOV.UK Lead (formerly single point of contact (SPOC)) or Head of Digital.
- If you want a short URL follow the URL guidelines.
- Ask them to submit a campaign request form for you.
There are 3 possible ways to get your campaign online: a campaign page on GOV.UK, your exempt website, or a microsite.
GDS and GCS work together to review campaign requests, considering the following 4 things.
Is there evidence of user need or that the audience will be receptive?
Is there user research pointing to the likely success of a government-run campaign site?
Is the user journey clear and coherent?
What is the size of the campaign? Read about Cabinet Office spending controls.
Is the projected spend on a microsite in line with typical charges for this type of work?
Does the campaign include steps for objectives, audience insight, strategy, implementation and scoring? Read more about campaign planning.
Should the campaign be on GOV.UK? Is it in proposition?
Would it be better to link to existing GOV.UK content?
Does it duplicate information already on GOV.UK?
If functionality is proposed that GOV.UK can’t supply, is there a demonstrable user need?
If not suitable for GOV.UK a campaign page, can this reasonably be delivered via partner sites?
Can campaign goals be achieved by using existing social media tools and communities, rather than creating a new destination?
Your Head of Digital will be accountable for the campaign’s effectiveness and making sure it follows government style.
Managing a campaign
Every campaign must have a named owner. They will be the main point of contact with GDS.
Campaign pages are part of your department’s digital content. As such, your department’s digital team has overall ownership and responsibility for their campaign pages.
The campaign owner will be responsible for:
- ensuring the campaign site does not duplicate information already on GOV.UK
- setting an end date for the campaign, if it’s a rolling campaign set a review date
- helping and training people to publish to the campaign platform
- ensuring content follows the style guide and writing for GOV.UK guidelines
- evaluating the campaign’s performance using Google Analytics and other available data
- ensuring the page(s) meet WCAG AA standards - see accessibility on GOV.UK
- maintain the availability and security of the campaign platform
- set up new administrator accounts
- manage campaign requests tickets
- work with GCS to review and prioritise requests for new accounts and additional functionality on the platform
Managing a GOV.UK campaign
GDS provides the WordPress platform for GOV.UK campaign pages. When your campaign page is approved, GDS will send you details to sign in to your account.
The campaign owner is responsible for managing and monitoring the campaign on WordPress.
There are links to guidance and an example campaign page once you’re signed in. The platform allows for more visual elements than before, such as larger pictures and embedded videos.
How to close a campaign page
- Contact the GOV.UK Lead from your organisation before closing your campaign page.
- Agree where your campaign URL should redirect to. The page will need to be archived and URL redirects set up.
- Ask the lead to make a support request to close the campaign and set up a redirect.
November 2013: Draft version published on Inside GOV.UK blog for comment by digital teams, and Heads of Comms.
December 2013: Version approved by GOV.UK Steering Group.
December 2016: This version updated for the private beta of new campaigns platform.