Campaigns on GOV.UK: standards and guidelines
Options to support promotions and marketing campaigns, from short URLs to standalone websites.
GDS can provide your department or agency with digital options to support your marketing campaign or promotional activity.
Read about how a campaign is defined, and advice on how to run an effective campaign on the Government Communication Service website.
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 Head of Digital, they can also help you with your application.
- Ask your Head of Digital to submit a campaign request form for you. They’ll need to include:
- the name of the Head of Digital who has agreed to the campaign
- the OASIS campaign plan
- the date the campaign will end
- how the success of the campaign will be measured
- what you’d like the URL of the campaign to be
- spend approval (if you’re not using the campaigns platform)
GDS and GCS work together to review campaign requests. You should get a decision within 7 working days. They’ll consider 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 (OASIS)? Read more about campaign planning.
Would it be better to link to existing GOV.UK content?
Does it duplicate information already on GOV.UK?
If not suitable for a GOV.UK campaign platform site or microsite, could the aim be achieved using partner sites?
Can campaign goals be achieved by using existing social media tools and communities, rather than creating a new destination?
Managing a campaign
Every campaign must have a named owner. They will be the main point of contact with GDS.
Campaign sites are part of your department’s digital content, so your department’s digital team has overall ownership and responsibility.
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
- making sure the site follows the design principles
- evaluating the campaign’s performance using Google Analytics and other available data
- submitting your analytics and statistics to GCS at regular intervals
- ensuring the content meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 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
If the campaign does not meet its success criteria, you must create a plan to improve it. Your campaign will be closed early if it does not improve.
Using the GOV.UK campaign platform
GDS provides the WordPress platform for GOV.UK campaign sites. If your campaign site 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 sites once you’re signed in. The platform allows for more visual elements than before, such as larger pictures and embedded videos.
GDS and GCS will assess your site and decide if it’s suitable to go public. Allow at least 2 working days for them to check it.
How to close a GOV.UK campaign platform site
- Contact the Head of Digital at your organisation before closing your campaign site.
- 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.