Government Digital Service
Choosing the right format
Its important to choose the format that fits your content. Do not base your decision on how a format looks.
This is because:
- if your content is in the wrong format, users will not be able to find it
- were working on grouping formats by purpose and user need to allow users to find content more easily
- it could wrongly go into history mode
Use case studies for real examples that help users understand either:
- a process thats covered on GOV.UK (for example it shows someones experience of taking part in a particular government programme)
- an important aspect of government policy thats covered on GOV.UK (for example it shows someones personal experience of a policy problem the government is trying to solve)
Do not create a case study if:
- its just about promoting your organisation - this just creates noise and makes it harder for users to find the practical information they need
- it does not relate directly to guidance or policy content on GOV.UK, or add something really important to it
- its not going to be permanently useful (situations with only a temporary interest are better dealt with in a news story or press release)
- its similar to an existing case study - this just creates noise and confuses users
Remember, most users just want practical information. Case studies can be counter-productive as theyre just something else for the user to read, and can complicate search results. Its often best to concentrate on getting the wording of the guidance right instead.
Creating a new case study
Find out how to create and update a case study in Whitehall publisher.
View a good example of a case study.
Writing and formatting case studies
There are some additional things you need to consider when writing a case study.
A case study can be either a first-person account or a third-person account with quotes from the person its about.
Case studies can be in video form.
Summarise the point of the case study.
Do not use the words case study in the title: they appear on the page automatically.
Good example: UK money helps to build new homes in Darfur
Bad example: After the war
This should outline what happened, why and the result.
The war in Darfur left many people without homes. The government gave the Sudanese government x money and 500 builders to help build homes for 1,000 families.
- information about how the case study supports a particular policy (include links to relevant pages)
- stats and facts: how many people this will help, how much money is going where etc
- the human element: who is benefiting and how
Do not include:
- too much detail about the past
- too many quotes (unless it is a straight interview)
Example:The 7-year war in Darfur (2003 to 2010) left x people homeless. Despite the ceasefire in 2010, the region is still unstable and work to rebuild homes is slow.
The government sent [building company, builders etc] to Darfur in June 2011. In 6 months they built 50 homes, which will house 200 people including 130 children.
George, husband and father of 4 children, said:
It has made such a difference to our lives. My wife was ill and our children were getting sick. We were crammed into a tiny house with 5 other families. The living conditions were awful. Now we have a clean house to ourselves. The children share a room but they love the space and get up to mischief.
- consultations (officially documents requiring collective agreement across government)
- calls for evidence
- requests for peoples views on a question
Do not use for:
- documents that should be added to an existing consultation (such as supporting or outcome documents)
- informal consultations like surveys
Creating a new consultation
Find out how to create and update a consultation in Whitehall publisher.
View a best practice example of a consultation.
Writing and formatting requirements for consultations
There are also some further points you need to think about when writing a consultation.
Summarise the point of the consultation.
Do not use the word consultation in the title: it appears on the page automatically.
- give a short, succinct account of what you are asking people about
- keep the body copy to under 100 words
- include publication or response dates as theyre inserted automatically and say who the consultation is aimed at
- include jargon, even if you think the intended audience will understand it
When you upload an attachment, it will automatically show the front page of the consultation.
Learn more about adding attachments.
When a government response is available, upload relevant files to the consultation page so that the whole consultation is findable at the original URL.
Public feedback (optional - can be added after consultation closes)
Do use the summary or body copy to:
- say how many responses were received
- the type of responses received (for example from members of the public, small businesses, large businesses, local government organisations, trade unions etc).
- try to summarise what the feedback says - just upload the actual feedback
- include dates in the copy - the publication date is inserted automatically
Final outcome (add once the government response is ready)
- use the summary or body copy to describe briefly what form the government response takes
- add only documents that form part of the governments initial response to the consultation (usually just the official response document plus a final impact assessment, if there is one)
- describe what the response actually said - that information goes in the attachment
- do not attach documents with a lifespan longer than the consultation, like implementation plans or new guidance - create a separate publication page instead
- add more information or attachments to the page after the initial government response has been published
Corporate information: about our services
- service level agreements and service standards
Do not use for:
- your general approach to customer service
- general information about your services
About our services appears under the corporate information link on your organisation page.
Its designed for specific information about your service level agreements. For general information about your services use the services and guidance links or about us page.
To explain your approach to customer service, use the complaints procedure instead.
Creating a new about our services page
About our services is created as a corporate information page.
Find out how to create and update about our services in Whitehall publisher.