“Leadership is nothing to do with how much you’re paid. Leadership is nothing to do with grade.” said Kit Collingwood, head of product delivery at Universal Credit. A great way to start the GOV.UK conference for content designers and editors.

attendeesStarting the day with these inspirational words, reminded us that in our digital roles for GOV.UK, we need to keep asking questions, so that we produce the best possible content for users.

“Why should this content be online? Is this the best format? Why should we use these words? Can we make it clearer and simpler to understand?”

I was really excited to be part of the steering group that planned this event and learned a lot through working with GDS and colleagues from other departments, such as HRMC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs). We had lots of meetings and discussions about which workshops we should have, what content for the conference, what format for the workshop and which speakers.

conconselfieFrom my experience of working on GOV.UK every day for the past three years, I felt I could make a worthwhile contribution. I would recommend other to get involved if they can.

In my role as GOV.UK manager for Land Registry, I’ve been really interested to find out more about accessibility online. I was really glad that there were two workshops linked to that topic, after I had suggested it during one of planning meetings. One of my colleagues, Wendy Hayton, co-chair of our Disabled Employees Network, shares her personal journey at Land Registry and why she’s started talking to her computer.Of course, I attended both sessions:

  • ‘Making content accessible’ presented by Emily Bell and Nick Cowan from the Home Office.
  • ‘Creating accessible documents’ presented by Kate Hall-Strutt, HM Treasury; Raj Mohindra, Department of Health

Here are some of the tips I picked up, to help make content accessible (which I can share with colleagues who ask for coloured text or PDFs):

  • Do user research and user testing
  • Try to keep one action per web page
  • Make text accessible in different formats
  • Think about how people might access content: screen reader, computer contrast etc.
  • Make sure documents meet WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) guidelines
  • Consider that 20% of users have visual impairments
  • Check content with mobile phone, as any Word or PDF over 2MB takes too long to download
  • Add alt text to describe the contents of charts
  • Check which devices are used to access online content (mobile/tablet/desktop) and make sure content is accessible for them
  • View these accessibility posters from Home Office

Back in the office, I started using my learnings from the conference right away. I’m planning to add the text of our YouTube videos into the description areas where possible, to give users another way to access the information. I’m still working on reducing the number of PDFs, as web pages are easier to access. Most importantly, I will keep on asking questions, to make web content as good as it can be for our users.

Read more about the event on Twitter: #ConCon4.

Stephanie Hill
By Stephanie Hill,
Web content manager at HM Land Registry