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Content design: planning, writing and managing content

Government Digital Service
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Organising and grouping content on GOV.UK

When to use the different options for grouping content on GOV.UK: topics, policies and collections.

Organising ‘how to’ content

‘How to’ content tells the user how to use a government service, or gives them information on how to do a specific task. Examples of ‘how to’ content formats are:

  • mainstream content (mainstream guides, quick answers, smart answers and transaction start pages)
  • publication (type: guidance)
  • publication (type: statutory guidance)
  • publication (type: form)
  • detailed guides

Mainstream browse pages

Mainstream browse pages group ‘how to’ content that’s aimed at the general public or a general business audience.

Examples of mainstream browse pages are:

Use the support form to ask GDS to add content to a mainstream browse page.

Many mainstream browse pages have links to topic pages.

Over time, we’re planning to merge mainstream browse pages, topic pages and policy pages to create a single taxonomy for GOV.UK.

Topic pages

Topic pages group ‘how to’ content for both mainstream and specialist audiences.

Examples of topic pages:

Currently the topic pages don’t cover the full range of content available on GOV.UK. We’ll be adding new topic pages over time.

The default format for topic pages is for all content items tagged to them to be displayed in a single A to Z list. See an example of an A to Z topic page.

The alternative format is a ‘two column’ topic page.

On a two column topic page the list of links is broken up using headings, so it’s easier for users to scan. See an example of a two column topic page.

If you think an A to Z topic page is getting too complex for users to scan, you can raise a request for it to made into a two column topic page. Use the support form to raise a request.

Organising content that’s about policy-making

The ‘policy’ format groups together documents that aren’t ‘how to’ content - they’re published as part of the government policy making process, or they explain what the government is doing and why.

For example:

  • policy papers
  • research and analysis publications
  • consultations
  • press releases

Examples of policies are:

Use the support form to request a new policy.

Document collections

Use document collections to group documents together if:

  • there’s a genuine user need to view that set of documents in one place
  • it’s a need that couldn’t be met by one of the other formats listed above (for example, topic pages and policies)

To test whether something is a genuine user need, write it up as a user story. For example -

As an urban planner working for a local council, I want to view all road traffic accident statistics in one place so that I can easily compare accident rates over different time periods.

Then look at whether the evidence suggests that there’s a genuine need.

Don’t use a document collection:

  • to group documents that are just thematically linked (that’s what topic pages and policies are for)
  • to group parts of single document - instead, put all the attachments on a single publication page

Talk to your department or agency’s managing editor before creating a new document collection.