Content design: planning, writing and managing content

Organising and grouping content on GOV.UK

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

Organising and tagging all content

All content on GOV.UK will eventually be grouped by what it’s about. Each group is called a ‘topic’.

Topics are organised in a hierarchy. This means topics can have subtopics, those subtopics can have subtopics and so on. Topics get more specific the further down the hierarchy you go.

Education, training and skills is an example of a high level topic. Subtopics for this topic include:

Everything on GOV.UK needs to be categorised so that users can find content based on what it’s about. You must tag content to topics when creating or editing a document.

Find out how to tag content to topics.

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.

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 could not be met by one of the other formats listed above (for example, topic pages)

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.

Do not use a document collection:

  • to group documents that are just thematically linked (that’s what topic pages are for)
  • to group parts of single document - instead, put all the attachments on a single publication page
  • to guide users through a task - convert the documents into a detailed guide instead
  • to group long complex documents that specialist users need to do their job - think about using a manual instead

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