How to name your service

Date adopted: 
June 3, 2019
Last update: 
September 2, 2020

The name you choose for your service is important to its success. Picking the right name means that users can:

  • find your service more easily when they search online; and
  • understand what your service does and easily decide whether to use it.

Meeting the standard

To meet the requirement in the service maturity assessment to "understand user needs" you must explain how you named your service.

When to name your service

Aim to name your service by the end of the discovery phase. By this stage you should have:

  • defined the problem you’re trying to solve; and
  • learned more about the context of the task your users are trying to do.

How to name your service

Good service names:

  • are verbs, not nouns;
  • use the words users use;
  • are based on analytics and user research;
  • describe a task, not a technology;
  • don’t need to change when policy or technology changes;
  • don’t include government department or agency names; and
  • aren’t brand-driven or focused on marketing.

Are you having problems with naming your service?

If you’re having problems naming your service, it might be because you haven’t scoped your service correctly. Review your user needs and carry out user research on the task that users are trying to do.

You might want to expand or reduce the scope of your service if it covers several related services. For example, if it’s a tax or grant service.

Examples of service names

  • Renew a vehicle registration
  • Pay a government invoice
  • Apply for a permit hunt authorization

The renew a vehicle registration service

The renew a vehicle registration service was originally called Online Vehicle Registration.

The apply for a permit hunt authorization service

Before the apply for a permit hunt authorization service was created, it was known internally as PHA.

After doing research with users and non-department staff, we found the name was confusing people. This made the service harder for users to understand and more expensive to deliver.

Check how the name is performing

Check how your service’s name performs before and after going live.

User research and testing

Conduct user research and testing to check that the name of your service allows people to quickly recognize what it does.

You can use tree testing to see if users can:

  • navigate from a home page to your service; and
  • distinguish your service from other related services.

Review search terms

Check search data to find out what terms users search for that relate to your service.

You can also ask the government's Web Advisory Committee community for help. Members may be able to share research which helps you categorize your service and use the right words to name it.

Use metrics

Review metrics to get an idea of how a service name is performing. For example, you can check:

  • page views from organic search;
  • click-through rate to a ‘start’ button;
  • external search volumes for the old and new name;
  • reduced number of on-page searches about the service; and
  • the number of users calling to ask ‘How do I… ?’