New government activity or policy: content types to use

Date adopted: 
August 12, 2018
Last update: 
August 28, 2020

Analysis and research shows there's little audience for top-level introductions to policy compared with task-focused guidance content.

However, sometimes there’s a need to explain government activity in brief, without going into great detail.

The best way to know how to publish this is to explore the user need more closely. How and why will users find this information? It’s bad content design practice to burden users with information that’s irrelevant to what they need right now.

Policy in guidance

Around 75% of page visits on are guidance to help users complete a task or interaction with government. Most people will not read background text that’s not relevant to the task they’re performing.

Some users want to know the detail of policy but they're not the same users as people looking for guidance.

Guidance on how to apply for a program or fund should not include more than 1 or 2 sentences about what the program is.

Guidance should not include:

  • why it exists (the problem being solved);
  • how much money has been allocated to it;
  • who runs it; or
  • aspirational statements about the intended outcome.

Scenario 1: announcing a new policy or activity

There are a number of formats you can use to tell users about a new policy or activity.

These formats include:

These are sufficient to announce something new until more specific information is available.

An example news release is Recycling surcharges to come into effect on October 1.

Scenario 2: telling users they may need to do something in the future

To tell users something is changing and they'll need to do it differently in the future, use a news release or joint news release. This includes new programs they can apply for or services they'll be able to use.

Make sure this content is user-focused. Make it as short and factual as possible. For example, Recycling charges are coming.