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Create a content strategy & manage content - Digital Standards

Help to create a content strategy and manage content. Includes planning a new website and templates.

This How-to guide focuses mainly on websites, and to a lesser extent social media. Developing an omni-channel digital content strategy is a broader challenge and not covered here.

Before you begin

What is a content strategy?

A content strategy is a document that outlines the steps you’ll take to make sure you have digital content people want to read, watch or listen to. It ensures your digital content serves an obvious purpose and your organisation’s objectives.

Why create a content strategy?

Improve the user experience

When you use a strategic approach to creating your digital content you’ll be making your users’ lives easier by giving them what they’re looking for at the right time. Without a strategy you’ll often find your content doesn’t actually meet your users’ needs. When you realise this, you’ll have to rebuild it.

Improve the quality of the information

A content strategy allows your agency or department to create high-quality content through:

  • knowing you’re only publishing genuinely useful relevant information
  • good publishing processes and standards (including approval processes)
  • consistent content structures
  • consistent messaging and branding across your business units
  • quality results in Google search rankings.

Streamline your content production

A solid strategy gives you a map to follow. It will make it easier to streamline production and plan ahead by creating better:

  • workflows
  • governance
  • understanding of goals
  • buy-in from management and stakeholders.

Gain confidence

Be confident your content conveys the right message and represents your brand across platforms.

Remove unnecessary clutter

Government websites are notorious for containing too much information, making it difficult to find, use and understand. A content strategy enables you to make deliberate decisions about the types of content that should be archived and a framework to make this happen within government.

Start research as soon as possible

Start research early, including researching user needs, testing, engaging external parties, sign-off times and costs. Refer to the How-to guide: How to do user experience (UX) research for practical advice and templates.

Engage your department’s digital team early

Engage early with your organisation’s digital team. They may be able to advise and support you.

What does the Victorian Government recommend?

All Victorian Government online services should create a content strategy to ensure any new or existing online product or service provides high-quality, useful information.

What standards must be met?

Branding

Apply Brand Victoria. Refer to the How-to guide, How to apply Brand Victoria (specifically written for digital).

Privacy

Comply with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014, and only collect information you’re legally entitled to collect. You’ll need to craft and publish a privacy ‘collection notice’ (refer to the How-to guide, How to manage privacy or the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner website.

If your digital presence collects personal information, then the physical location of the servers where it’s stored must have the same level of legal protection for private data as we offer citizens in Victoria.

Accessibility

To comply with the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Disability Discrimination Act, and the WoVG standard ‘Conform to Level AA of version 2.0 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)’, your digital presence must comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Version 2.0 (WCAG) AA standard.

If your audience is primarily people with a disability (for example, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) clients), your site must pass the test for the AAA standard. Refer to the How-to guide, How to make websites and content accessible.

Manage public records

The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) (under Section 12 of the Public Records Act 1973) sets the standards for managing the public records your department or agency creates. Always check with your department's or agency’s records or information management specialist first for the approach to compliance.

Refer to How to manage online records for more information or the PROV website.

Getting it approved

For a new digital presence (website or social media account)

If you’re creating a content strategy for a new digital presence, you must gain approval. This can be done with the appropriate governance body, your department’s Digital Management Committee (DMC) (or its equivalent).

For an existing digital presence (website or social media account)

Approval is not necessary. Departments and agencies are encouraged to determine their own compliance and report to the appropriate internal group. Once again check with your DMC (or its equivalent).

Check if you need extra approvals

Note: You may need extra approvals for content elements like branding. These approvals often come from different parts of the business. Check your department’s intranet for details of the approval process.

Section 1: Planning a new website or website redesign

Section 2: Publishing great content

You can check your draft for clarity and ease of reading using online tools. For most purposes, the free online Hemingway editor is worth considering.

Reviewed 06 March 2019

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