Content design and standards

New website

This section sets out the principles we apply to guide the discovery, design and dissemination of content on the Guy’s and St Thomas’ public website.

Content principles help us define and structure information to meet the needs of website users.

In developing content for the public site, we follow the principles outlined in the national NHS Digital service manual, the GOV.UK content standards, legal requirements such as the Web Content Accessibility guidelines and Google’s SEO starter guide .

This document is for everyone developing content for the public website.

Content discovery – understanding and meeting user needs

  1. Users first: every page on the website must meet a valid user need and acceptance criteria. See more information on NHS Digital ─ designing your content.
  2. Quality over quantity: we focus on presenting high-quality content in as few pages as possible so users can get the information they need easily and quickly. Less is more.
  3. No duplication: if information is available on other authoritative sites such as or our local partners and approved charities, we link to them and not copy.

Content design – creating and developing content

Accessible content: we ensure our content is welcoming and inclusive to all. For further accessibility guidance, visit NHS Digital ─ designing for inclusion.

Accurate and consistent: we work with subject matter experts to ensure information is fact-checked. Content must be accurate, consistent, and useful to gain the trust of website visitors.

Language, format and structure: we follow the NHS Digital ─ content style guide, when writing for our website to make sure content is simple, clear, written in plain English and understandable. We write for an audience with an average reading age of 9. This is considered optimal by GOV.UK. Read more on GOV.UK website.

Optimise content for search engines: we follow specific on-page SEO rules and conventions to improve page performance on search engines such as Google. For more information read Google’s SEO starter guide for on-page SEO.

Discourage the use of FAQs (frequently asked questions): We do not consider FAQs as user friendly or search engine friendly. They duplicate content and provide information in search results out of context. More information on NHS Digital ─ writing for the web.

Content dissemination – publishing and monitoring content

Checks and controls: before we publish content, we check to ensure it meets user needs, is accessible, readable and concise.

Avoid PDFs: we no longer upload new PDFs to the website, except in particular circumstances and only when they meet accessibility standards (PDF/A). Instead, we publish information as web content (HTML). Find out more about the problems with PDFs. We follow guidance provided in the NHS Digital service manual on PDFs and other non-html documents.

Retire content: if content is out-of-date or if there is no longer a user need for it, we will archive it.

Analyse and improve: we assess the effectiveness of content on the site through regular user testing and by looking at page analytics. We also review the quality and impact of content using feedback mechanisms such as surveys.

For more information on content principles please email [email protected].

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