7. Keep introductory text brief
This will appear in the top section, immediately under the heading. It shouldn’t be more than 3 sentences – no more than around 200 characters.
8. Include summary text
This will be picked up by search engines and will be displayed on pages where your content page is listed as a menu item. It should be a shortened version of the introductory text – no more than 160 characters.
9. Make landing pages that meet user needs
Landing pages contain top tasks, the things that your users need most urgently or most frequently. These should be a maximum of three things. You can find out what these are by analysing:
- web data
- helpdesk enquiries sent to your team
- user feedback – for example, via email or face-to-face user group sessions
In addition to the heading, intro and top tasks, you should explain what your service does and why it’s important to the NHS or social care system.
It may be appropriate to put more information on the landing page. This can be discussed with the web team. We can set the Content Management System (CMS) to link to any sub-pages or relevant pages in other parts of the site.
10. Create usable sub-pages
These will vary in structure but can include lists, forms, images, data tables, information, instruction manuals or your latest news and events.
We’re trying to avoid document libraries with PDFs, Excel and Word documents. Think of content as a web page first and a document second.
11. Do not say content is 'new'
It’s better to be transparent and show a ‘last updated’ date if you need to.
Do not promise content is ‘coming soon’. This is too vague and sets false expectations.
12. Avoid PDFs
We no longer allow new PDFs to be uploaded to the website, except in particular circumstances and only when they meet accessibility standards (PDF/A). Instead, we always try to publish information as web content (HTML).
The 3 main problems with using PDFs are:
- Accessibility: Most PDFs aren’t accessible to people with certain disabilities, such as those who rely on screen readers or need special colour or contrast settings on their screens.
- User experience: PDFs are often hard to access with mobile technology, difficult to find on computers and, once downloaded, can store out of date information.
- Search: Many internet users find things through Google searches - PDFs rank lower than web content in searches and sometimes do not appear at all.
There are some circumstances where PDFs are still appropriate, such as:
- content designed for printing, for example, posters
- where there’s a legal or regulatory requirement to have a formal, signed document
Find out more about the problems with PDFs.
13. Do not create frequently asked questions (FAQs)
We do not include FAQs sections on our website or intranet. If you write content by starting with user needs, you will not need to use FAQs.
FAQs are discouraged because they:
- duplicate other content on the site - if a question is frequently asked, it means you need that content on the website - structure that content clearly so you do not need another page repeating the same information in a different way
- cannot be front-loaded - front loading means putting the most important word(s) of the sentence at the beginning which makes it easier and quicker for readers to understand the content - having everything in a long list means more work for readers - questions take longer to scan and understand than simple headings and you cannot take any meaning from then in a quick glance
- mean that content is not where people expect to find it
If you frequently get asked a particular question from your users, this means you have a user need for a new piece of content.