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Our content: what and how we publish

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We publish digital content for 3 main reasons:

  • to explain policy
  • for policy engagement, to help make better policy
  • for transparency

The main channel for publishing our digital content is We want the Department of Health to have the highest-quality content on – this means publishing content that gives users the information they need, when they need it, in a format and language that’s right for them.

By publishing on, we are contributing to DH’s broader digital, communication and policy work. But isn’t simply a repository of material that we publish – it has a strategic purpose and contributes to other communications activity, digital and otherwise.

Our aim of publishing high quality content will be achieved by applying the following principles to our work:

  • user need – we put users at the centre of the decisions we make about content on
  • quality – we aim for the best editorial standards
  • collaboration – we share our digital expertise with colleagues to help them use in digital policymaking, and to explain policy
  • prioritising – we invest resources where they are most effective and most needed

User need

Our audience is primarily made up of health and care professionals and those with an interest in health and social care policy. But it is important for our content to also be meaningful to a non-specialist audience.

Meeting user need means:

  • asking if users really need what we’re publishing – and not publishing content that nobody will use
  • only giving users the level of information they need
  • using the principles of plain English
  • accepting that user need may be different to what we expect
  • using analytics and other data to inform decisions
  • using search engine optimisation to make content easy to find
  • communicating with our audience in an approachable but authoritative tone
  • getting greater insight into our stakeholders’ needs and testing content with them
  • asking whether another digital channel (for example social media) might be better for some content
  • asking whether a non-digital channel might be more suitable in some situations


We want DH to have the highest quality content on This is an ambitious aim and our ways of achieving this include:

  • ensuring content remains up to date and is a fair representation of current policy
  • second eyes check on all content
  • regular in-house spot checks of content
  • responding to Government Digital Service (GDS) spot checks
  • testing content with users through GDS user testing processes
  • using analytics to improve content
  • evaluating effectiveness of content
  • following GDS style guide
  • using videos, blogs and other alternative formats to enhance standard content
  • not publishing something on if it isn’t the right communications channel


We work with colleagues across the department and with our arm’s length bodies to ensure that they have the knowledge they need to use as part of their policy and communications objectives.

As part of this, we:

  • explain to colleagues what is and what isn’t appropriate for
  • recommend suitable other channels if isn’t appropriate
  • encourage colleagues to apply communications best practice, for example by asking for every piece of work: What is the target audience? What do they need to know? What is the best way to get this information to them?
  • give advice on how to prepare material for
  • use our expertise to influence DH colleagues
  • contribute ideas to GDS for how can better meet user need
  • contribute to GDS user testing
  • make sure that is included in the planning of broader communications activity by liaising with our communications colleagues


We aim to invest our resources where they are most needed and most effective.

This means:

  • focusing on departmental priorities (as set out in our business plan)
  • managing expectations of what is possible
  • developing an agile approach to respond to changing priorities
  • being responsive to user need

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