The Government Digital Service has placed more emphasis on the need for content designers to discuss GOV.UK content before it is written to cut down lengthy editing processes.
New GOV.UK content review process will involve less written feedback and more conversations – Photo credit: Pixabay
The previous GOV.UK content review process required designers to send their work to “a second pair of eyes”, known as 2i, before it was published online – but, according to the GDS team managing content, this often meant it took too long to get content uploaded.
“We ended up with far more people producing content than we had people trained to 2i it,” said GDS’ Benjamin Mortimer. “They’d send content back with amends for content designers to make, who’d then put the content back in the queue again to be published. Changes could take a long time to go live.”
The team is now trialling a new process, which involves the content designer having two conversations about the work with another content designer, one before work starts and one in the middle of the process after the first draft has been written.
The initial conversation is to discuss the plan and point out any potential problems, while the second is to talk through work to date and improve the written content together – at which point it is sent for 2i.
The move will take pressure off the people carrying out the 2i process – because it should need fewer amendments – but Mortimer acknowledged that the new approach had caused some frustrations.
This, he said. includes the fact it can often take longer to explain the background to someone else than just writing the content – especially if it’s a small piece of work – and that you have to wait until another content designer is free to discuss the work before you can start writing.
In addition, Mortimer noted that it was “sometimes helpful to be able to sit by yourself and try things out” rather than having to solve the problem in the abstract – which he added could be intimidating for recent starters.
To address these issues, Mortimer said that the team was working on bringing more flexibility to the approach by allowing people to skip one of the conversations for simple projects and encouraging content designers to set aside “opening hours” so conversations can be booked in advance.
However, he said that overall the feedback had been positive, with the main benefit being that the team is failing earlier. “Sharing our work nearer the start of the content design process means we’re spotting that an approach won’t work at the earliest possible point, so we don’t waste time going down a dead-end,” Mortimer said.
Other advantages to the new approach are an increased emphasis on collaborative work, which has encouraged people to get together to “thrash out knotty problems” and a move away from communicating only via notes – which Mortimer said can be time-consuming to produce and respond to.