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Content toolkit

Follow the publishing process

Use this publishing processes to create content that is:

  • based on the needs of your users
  • clear and easy for people to understand
  • correct and up to date

Include the right people

Before you start, you need to know who has the authority to approve your content. This can only be one person.

You need different people at each stage of the publishing process. For example, you will work with experts when drafting your content.

To agree who does what, download and use a template.

Publishing process

1. Start with user needs

You can only create useful content if you understand your users and what they need to do. You need to find out:

  • who your users are
  • what tasks they are trying to do
  • how they will use your content
  • where your content needs to be published

For example, medical personnel use an app on different devices to track casualties across a battlefield. The content must be correct and easy to understand in a highly stressful environment.

Find out how to write less content.

2. Review existing content

Before writing new content on a subject, check what is already published across Defence. For example, on GOV.UK and MODNET.

By updating existing content, you make it:

  • easier for users to find the updated information
  • less likely that users will be confused by duplicate content
  • cheaper and easier to update content in the future

If a lot of related content exists, do a content audit. Find out how to audit content.

3. Draft content with experts

People across Defence need content they can trust.

Content needs to be created with help from experts. For example, you cannot make changes to policy content without working with the relevant subject matter experts.

Across government, content is usually created by content designers working with experts. They use an approach called pair-writing.

Find out about working with content designers and pair writing.

Check how to write accessible content.

4. Ask others to look at your content

When you write content, it is difficult to know where it might be confusing to others. You need to ask people who are not as close to the content to look at it.

When possible in Defence, you are expected to:

  • ask another content designer to take a look
  • share your content in community channels and meet-ups

You can ask the content community for advice.

5. Test with users and make changes

Before publishing content, you need to check if it is:

  • what users are expecting
  • easy to read and understand
  • missing any important information

If you can, ask a user researcher to test your content with users. User researchers are familiar with research processes and ethics in Defence.

Make sure you observe the research sessions. You will probably need to make a few changes to the content, based on what you learn.

Find out about doing research in Defence.

6. Check facts and get final approval

After making changes based on user feedback, make sure that your content is still factually correct.

Ask the content owner or subject matter expert to:

  • read the content one last time before it is published
  • highlight anything that is not factually correct, without changing the content
  • give you written approval that it can be published

Find out how GOV.UK content is fact checked.

7. Check GOV.UK standards

All content published for Defence should meet GOV.UK standards. This includes content on internal services.

When you publish content in Defence or on any government platform, it needs to be:

  • clear to the user
  • accurate and up to date
  • accessible and inclusive

Check how to write in GOV.UK style.

8. Publish your content

Following this process, your content is more likely to be published on the right platform and in the right format for users.

If people need to know about the new content, decide on how you are going to tell them. For example:

  • a banner on a page
  • a message and link in a newsletter
  • an email to the people who need to know

Remember to tell your stakeholders, experts and anyone else who has been involved.

9. Keep reviewing your content

After you publish content, you need to make sure it is:

  • working well for users
  • kept up to date
  • removed when it is no longer needed

Find out how you can get user feedback on your content. Many digital services have a way for users to give feedback.

If you can, use analytics to check if users are finding your content and how long they spend on it.

Do regular reviews of your content. Find out how to audit your content.

Ask a question

If you have questions or suggestions, email the Defence Service Manual team.

Updated March 2024

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