Guidance

Content designer

Find out what a content designer does and the skills you need to do the job.

This describes the role of a content designer and the skills required, including:

  • an introduction to the role, telling you what you would do in this role and the full list of skills
  • a description of the levels in this role, from associate content designer to head of content design, specifying the skills you need for each level and the corresponding skill level (awareness, working, practitioner, expert)

This role is part of the Digital, Data and Technology Profession in the Civil Service.

Introduction to the role of content designer

A content designer works on the end-to-end journey of a service to help users complete their goal and government deliver a policy intent. In this role, your work may involve the creation of, or change to, a transaction, product or single piece of content that stretches across digital and offline channels. You will be expected to:

  • make sure appropriate content is shown to a user in the right place and in the best format
  • start from discovery and work closely with user researchers, service designers and interaction designers

Skills required to be a content designer

You will need the following skills for this role, although the level of expertise for each will vary, depending on the role level.

  • Agile working. You know about agile methodology and can apply an agile mindset to all aspects of your work. You can work in a fast-paced, evolving environment and use an iterative method and flexible approach to enable rapid delivery. You are unafraid to take risks, willing to learn from mistakes and appreciate the importance of agile project delivery for digital projects in government. You can ensure the team knows what each other is working on and how this relates to practical government objectives and user needs.
  • Prototyping. You can apply technical knowledge and experience to create or design workable prototypes, both programs and physical outputs. You understand parameters, restrictions and synergies.
  • Stakeholder relationship management. You know how to identify, analyse, manage and monitor relationships with and between stakeholders. You can communicate with stakeholders clearly and regularly, clarifying mutual needs and commitments through consultation and consideration of impacts while focusing on user needs. For example, you know how to manage customer and supplier relationships, ensuring that recommendations deliver maximum benefit and facilitating workshops with stakeholders.
  • Strategic thinking. You can take an overall perspective on business issues, events, activities and discuss their wider implications and long-term impact. This could include determining patterns, standards, policies, roadmaps and vision statements. You know how to focus on outcomes rather than solutions and activities.
  • User focus. You understand users and can identify who they are and what their needs are, based on evidence. You can translate user stories and propose design approaches or services to meet these needs. You can engage in meaningful interactions and relationships with users. You put users first and can manage competing priorities.
  • User-centred content design. You can design content to meet user needs and make complex language and processes easy to understand. You can understand and implement style and standards.

Associate content designer

As a trainee in an entry-level position, working under supervision, you need aptitude, potential and an understanding of the role. You will perform basic standard checks and copy edits.

Skills needed for this role

  • Agile working. You have experience of working in agile, including an awareness of agile tools and how to use them. You can advise colleagues on how and why agile methods are used and be able to provide a clear, open and transparent framework in which teams can deliver. You can adapt and reflect and be resilient. You have the ability to see outside of the process. (Relevant skill level: working)
  • Prototyping. You know about prototyping and can explain why and when to use it. You know how to work in an open and collaborative environment- for example, by pair-working. (Relevant skill level: awareness)
  • Stakeholder relationship management. You know who your stakeholders are, what evidence is relevant to them and the importance of managing relationships with them. (Relevant skill level: awareness)
  • Strategic thinking. You know about the strategic context of your work and why it is important. You support strategic planning in an administrative capacity. (Relevant skill level: awareness)
  • User focus. You have an awareness or understanding of user experience analysis and its principles. You can see the purpose of user stories and focus on user needs. (Relevant skill level: awareness)
  • User-centred content design. You have basic but decent editorial standards. You know about style standards. You work well under supervision. (Relevant skill level: awareness)

Junior content designer

A junior content designer is a graduate with a degree in a relevant subject or an individual with some relevant work experience, or both. At this level, you will be expected to:

  • explain content decisions
  • work collaboratively
  • work independently after being given direction by more senior content designers
  • independently identify user issues and needs
  • support administration, gatekeeping and publishing

Skills needed for this role

  • Agile working. You have experience of working in agile, including an awareness of agile tools and how to use them. You can advise colleagues on how and why agile methods are used and be able to provide a clear, open and transparent framework in which teams can deliver. You can adapt and reflect and be resilient. You have the ability to see outside of the process. (Relevant skill level: working)
  • Prototyping. You know about prototyping and can explain why and when to use it. You know how to work in an open and collaborative environment- for example, by pair-working. (Relevant skill level: awareness)
  • Stakeholder relationship management. You know who your stakeholders are, what evidence is relevant to them and the importance of managing relationships with them. (Relevant skill level: awareness)
  • Strategic thinking. You can work within a strategic context and communicate how activities meet strategic goals. You can contribute to the development of strategy and policies. (Relevant skill level: working)
  • User focus. You have an awareness or understanding of user experience analysis and its principles. You can see the purpose of user stories and focus on user needs. (Relevant skill level: awareness)
  • User-centred content design. You have basic but decent editorial standards. You know about style standards. You work well under supervision. (Relevant skill level: awareness)

Content designer

Content designers are responsible for creating, updating and reviewing content around the end-to-end user journey. At this level, you will:

  • be comfortable using evidence, data and research
  • build relationships across government to focus on the needs of the user and to influence stakeholders
  • contribute to and use the style guides and design patterns

Skills needed for this role

  • Agile working. You can identify and compare the best processes or delivery methods to use, including measuring and evaluating outcomes. You know how to help the team to decide the best approach. You can help teams to manage and visualise outcomes, prioritise work and work to agreed minimum viable product (MVP), print and scope. (Relevant skill level: practitioner)
  • Prototyping. You know when to use a specific prototyping technique or method (for example, sketch, code, Loc2). You can show the value of prototyping to the team. (Relevant skill level: working)
  • Stakeholder relationship management. You can identify important stakeholders, tailoring communication to their needs, and work with teams to build relationships while also meeting user needs. You can take opposing views to reach consensus. You know how to work with stakeholders and contribute to improving these relationships, using evidence to explain decisions made. (Relevant skill level: working)
  • Strategic thinking. You can define strategies and policies, providing guidance to others on working in the strategic context. You know how to evaluate current strategies to ensure business requirements are being met and exceeded where possible. (Relevant skill level: practitioner)
  • User focus. You can identify needs and engage with users or stakeholders to collate user needs evidence. You understand and can define research that fits user needs. You can use quantitative and qualitative data about users to turn user focus into outcomes. (Relevant skill level: working)
  • User-centred content design. You can work autonomously. You know how to create effective content for digital channels. (Relevant skill level: working)

Senior content designer

A senior content designer is an expert practitioner who develops content strategy and solutions for large-scale problems and high-profile events. At this level, you will:

  • take responsibility for content quality, managing small teams and mentoring content designers
  • write and map user stories, assure quality and review the work of others
  • lead on cross-government content projects
  • engage with and contribute to the cross-government content community

Skills needed for this role

  • Agile working. You can identify and compare the best processes or delivery methods to use, including measuring and evaluating outcomes. You know how to help the team to decide the best approach. You can help teams to manage and visualise outcomes, prioritise work and work to agreed minimum viable product (MVP), print and scope. (Relevant skill level: practitioner)
  • Prototyping. You approach prototyping as a team activity, actively soliciting prototypes and testing with others. You can establish design patterns and iterate them. You can use a variety of methods of prototyping and choose the most appropriate ones. (Relevant skill level: practitioner)
  • Stakeholder relationship management. You can influence stakeholders and manage relationships effectively. You know how to build long-term strategic relationships and communicate clearly and regularly with stakeholders. (Relevant skill level: practitioner)
  • Strategic thinking. You can lead the design and implementation of strategy, directing the evaluation of strategies and policies to ensure business requirements are being met. (Relevant skill level: expert)
  • User focus. You know how to collaborate with user researchers and can represent users internally. You understand the difference between user needs and the desires of the user. You can champion user research to focus on all users. You can prioritise and define approaches to understand the user story, guiding others in doing so. You can offer recommendations on the best tools and methods to be used. (Relevant skill level: practitioner)
  • User-centred content design. You can create and iterate content for end-to-end services. You can deliver through others and direct their work. (Relevant skill level: practitioner)

Lead content designer

A lead content designer is an expert practitioner who directs a team of content designers and assures the quality of content design across teams and the alignment to strategy. At this level, you will:

  • work closely with service managers, programme directors and senior stakeholders to resource teams, resolve problems and develop future projects
  • promote the content design discipline, engage with the cross-government community and keep up to date with industry changes

Skills needed for this role

  • Agile working. You know how to coach and lead teams in Agile and Lean practices, determining the right approach for the team to take and evaluating this through the life of a project. You can think of new and innovative ways of working to achieve the right outcomes. You are able to act as a recognised expert and advocate for the approaches, continuously reflecting and challenging the team. (Relevant skill level: expert)
  • Prototyping. You know when to use a specific prototyping technique or method (for example, sketch, code, Loc2). You can show the value of prototyping to the team. (Relevant skill level: working)
  • Stakeholder relationship management. You know how to direct the strategic approach for stakeholder relationships, establishing and promoting the meeting of stakeholder objectives. You can influence important senior stakeholders and provide an arbitration function. (Relevant skill level: expert)
  • Strategic thinking. You can lead the design and implementation of strategy, directing the evaluation of strategies and policies to ensure business requirements are being met. (Relevant skill level: expert)
  • User focus. You know how to give direction on which tools or methods to use. You are experienced in meeting the needs of users across a variety of channels. You can bring insight and expertise in how user needs have changed over time to ensure these are met by the business. You know how to apply strategic thinking in how to provide the best service for the end user. (Relevant skill level: expert)
  • User-centred content design. You have experience of creating and iterating content across multiple channels. You can be accountable for content decisions. You can train and guide your team. (Relevant skill level: expert)

Head of content design

A head of content design is an expert practitioner with broad industry experience who can define and assure best practice while influencing, leading and mentoring others. At this level, you will be expected to:

  • develop a strategy for content that meets the organisation’s objectives
  • lead a team capable of executing that strategy
  • work with senior stakeholders to influence organisational strategy
  • prioritise and collaborate with counterpart colleagues across government
  • champion good content design practice within government and industry

Skills needed for this role

  • Agile working. You know how to coach and lead teams in Agile and Lean practices, determining the right approach for the team to take and evaluating this through the life of a project. You can think of new and innovative ways of working to achieve the right outcomes. You are able to act as a recognised expert and advocate for the approaches, continuously reflecting and challenging the team. (Relevant skill level: expert)
  • Prototyping. You know about prototyping and can explain why and when to use it. You know how to work in an open and collaborative environment- for example, by pair-working. (Relevant skill level: awareness)
  • Stakeholder relationship management. You know how to direct the strategic approach for stakeholder relationships, establishing and promoting the meeting of stakeholder objectives. You can influence important senior stakeholders and provide an arbitration function. (Relevant skill level: expert)
  • Strategic thinking. You can lead the design and implementation of strategy, directing the evaluation of strategies and policies to ensure business requirements are being met. (Relevant skill level: expert)
  • User focus. You know how to give direction on which tools or methods to use. You are experienced in meeting the needs of users across a variety of channels. You can bring insight and expertise in how user needs have changed over time to ensure these are met by the business. You know how to apply strategic thinking in how to provide the best service for the end user. (Relevant skill level: expert)
  • User-centred content design. You have experience of creating and iterating content across multiple channels. You can be accountable for content decisions. You can train and guide your team. (Relevant skill level: expert)

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Published 7 January 2020