Content strategy: ensuring our information meets our values and strategic priorities

This week our leadership group at the Scottish Parliament approved our content strategy. This means it has been adopted as one of our corporate strategies.

It was created in collaboration with teams across the Parliament and will be a tool for anyone creating content to help them deliver the best quality information for the people of Scotland.

Our content strategy

The content strategy is focused around 4 principles, which are 'our content is':

  • user centred – we put the needs of the people who use our information at the heart of what we create
  • findable – we prioritise helping people who want our information to find it as quickly and easily as possible
  • consistent – we implement a consistent quality, style and tone for all online information
  • accessible – we ensure our information is open and understandable for anyone who wants to look at it

We have outlined how we’ll meet these principles and how we’ll measure success.

Our content is user centred

How we'll meet this principle

We'll ensure our content is user centred by:

  • valuing expertise and acknowledging the value of the information we create by supporting a new content governance model
  • staff understanding who they’re creating information for and working across teams to deliver a positive user experience
  • all content having verified user needs and goals
  • using performance data and findings from user research as evidence that changes of direction are required
  • stopping information being created that people don’t need
  • moving away from the ease of putting information into PDFs to better understanding the format needs of our users
  • knowing what information we're creating and how it impacts the existing content ecosystem

How we'll measure success

Our content will be user centred if: 

  • there's a reduction in the information we create and the channels we use
  • users can complete what they came to the website to do (goal completion testing)
  • we do regular user needs audit of content

Our content is findable

How we'll meet this principle

We'll ensure our content is findable by:

  • having content specialists managing the structure of our web services and our information
  • all content being checked by specialists for findability good practice and our Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) standards
  • adhering to our archiving policy to ensure that content is removed when it’s no longer needed
  • designing content around what people are searching for
  • regularly testing where users expect to find information and put content where people expect to find it
  • moving away from using PDFs for our information

How we'll measure success

Our content will be findable if: 

  • there's a reduction of time spent for users completing tasks, measured against the Task Performance Indicator results
  • content can be found on website search and is found on the first page of search engine results, including data driven content and content currently buried in PDFs
  • all content has unique, clear headings
  • the number of people that ‘bounce’ (who leave after just 1 page) on our website is monitored and reduced

Our content is consistent

How we'll meet this principle

We'll ensure our content is consistent by:

  • content specialists working with teams across the Parliament to ensure all content:
    - meets the style guide and is written in Plain English
    - meets readability standard
    - is written to be easily read online 
  • content specialists managing our content across channels and using governance to deal with content that does not meet prescribed content standards
  • content is written to be understood by all of our users and, where technical language must be used, we give Plain English explanations

How we'll measure success

Our content will be consistent if: 

  • the average readability of our information is reduced, from post-graduate level to reading age of 12
  • users can do what they came to do (goal completion testing)
  • we explain technical terms in Plain English
  • content is created once and used across channels

Our content is accessible

How we'll meet this principle

We'll ensure our content is accessible by:

  • testing content for accessibility with users who have accessibility requirements and with tools such as screen readers
  • having a publishing process where content specialists check accessibility of content
  • training staff across the organisation to ensure accessibility is being considered when creating content and what’s required to make content accessible is understood

How we'll measure success

Our content will be accessible if:

  • regular checks are carried out to ensure that our content complies with the WCAG 2.1 standards (recognised accessibility standards)
  • our content has an average reading level of 12 years old
  • people who have English as a second language can understand our information and complete tasks 

How we’re implementing this strategy

We’re currently applying the content strategy principles to all our work on the new website and other related work, for example the Festival of Politics microsite.

This approach will continue as we work through the remaining top tasks and bring any microsites into our main website. You can read about this work in our previous blog post.

Exceptions to the content strategy

There are certain exceptions to the content strategy principles. These are mainly where the organisation does not create the content it’s publishing, for example Scottish Government documents to support the introduction of Bills.

Why it’s important  

As our information is a key service we provide and one of our main strategic assets, getting this strategy approved is an important step forward in our digital transformation journey.

The content strategy will help the Parliament make a positive difference to the lives of the people of Scotland by providing information:

  • that can be easily found
  • in clear language that they can understand
  • in formats that everyone can use
  • that works across our channels

This will make our information service efficient, effective, compliant and reach further.

Strategic context

It’s also a step forward for the organisation in terms of meeting its commitments in the:

  • Strategic Plan goals of ‘being accountable to the people of Scotland’ and ‘informing, involving and being accountable to the people of Scotland’
  • Public Engagement Strategy goal of ‘improving awareness of the relevance and accessibility of Parliament, particularly in under-represented groups’
  • Commission on Parliamentary Reform points on making the language used closer to ‘everyday language’ and the language that’s used being meaningless outside the ‘Holyrood bubble’
  • Diversity and Inclusion Strategy outcome 3 – ‘we meet the needs and expectations of the diverse groups who connect with the Parliament’

The strategy principles also align with our Organisational values in the following way:

•      user centred – Excellence and Inclusiveness
•      findable – Stewardship
•      consistent – Excellence and Stewardship
•      accessible – Inclusiveness and Respect

What’s next

Now that the strategy has been approved, we’ll be working on delivering the guidance and processes needed to support the staff who will be implementing the strategy.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Web Team project