Content design: planning, writing and managing content

Campaigns on GOV.UK: standards and guidelines

Options to support promotions and marketing campaigns, from short URLs to standalone websites.

Campaigns

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 (GCS) website.

How to get your campaign online

You can create a single-page or multi-page campaign website that uses the GOV.UK subdomain campaign.gov.uk – for example the single-page Help to Grow campaign and the Cost of Living Support multi-page campaign.

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

GCS approval is needed for all new campaign websites on the GOV.UK subdomain campaign.gov.uk.

Get approval for your campaign from your department’s Head of Communications before going to GCS.

When developing a campaign, talk to GCS as early as possible. This helps formal approval processes later on.

  1. Talk to your organisation’s Head of Communications, they can also help you with your application.
  2. Ask your Head of Communications to submit a campaign request form for you. They’ll need to include:
  • the name of the Head of Communications 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

Approval process

GCS will review your campaign request. You should get a decision within 10 working days. The review process will include consideration of the following 5 things.

User need

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?

We recommend that a content designer in your department reviews the content and advises on how your site can best meet user needs.

Campaign plan

Does the campaign include steps for objectives, audience insight, strategy, implementation and scoring (OASIS)? Read more about campaign planning.

GOV.UK

Would it be better to link to existing GOV.UK content?

Does it duplicate information already on GOV.UK? The campaign must not duplicate other content or services on GOV.UK. Read more about what does not go on GOV.UK

Is it within the GOV.UK proposition? You must follow the guidance in the proposition when you publish content.

Does it link to a service on GOV.UK? If it does, make sure you link directly to the start point. Read more about start points for GOV.UK services

Does it link to an external site? If so, you must follow the GOV.UK external linking policy

Alternatives

If not suitable for a GOV.UK campaign platform site, 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?

Learn more about how to use these channels by speaking to your comms team, or read the Social Media Playbook.

Exemptions

If your proposed site doesn’t meet the definition of a campaign or the campaigns platform does not meet your requirements, you will need to get approval from GDS before you create any new government website or public-facing domain by requesting an exemption.

Managing a campaign

Every campaign must have a named owner. They will be the main point of contact with GDS.

Your department’s communications team is responsible for campaign sites. But involve your digital team early on to ensure a joined-up approach.

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

GCS will:

  • manage campaign request tickets
  • assess your site and decide if it’s suitable to go public
  • review your sites six months after it’s live

GDS will:

  • maintain the availability and security of the campaign platform
  • set up new administrator accounts
  • work with GCS to review and prioritise requests for new accounts and additional functionality on the platform

Six months after your site goes live, you’ll be required to provide performance data for the site based on your digital Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). If the campaign does not meet its success criteria, you must create a plan to improve it.

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 site once you’re signed in. The platform offers a range of visual elements as well as the option of multiple pages.

If you need additional help using WordPress, read WordPress Made Simple, or the WordPress user guide

GCS will assess your site and decide if it’s suitable to go public. Allow at least 5 working days for them to check it.

How to close a GOV.UK campaign platform site

  1. Contact the Head of Communications at your organisation before closing your campaign site.
  2. Agree on where your campaign URL should redirect to. The page will need to be archived and URL redirects set up.
  3. Ask the lead to make a support request to close the campaign and set up a redirect.