Content strategy

This is part of the content and publishing manual

This strategy sets out the guidelines and processes for creating digital content at NRW. It is presented in a way that it is focused on doing the practical steps to create content.

Its aim is to guide you through how it works, whether you’re a subject matter expert, a content designer, or are involved in another capacity.

This strategy helps us make good decisions when it comes to creating digital content.

Introduction to content strategy

Content strategy guides the:

  • planning
  • creation
  • delivery
  • measurement
  • governance

of useful, usable content.

Why have a content strategy

A content strategy helps us manage our digital content over the long term, so that we can make consistent, replicable decisions about how we create and present our information.

It connects the organisation’s digital content efforts with business goals and user needs and is an integrated approach to planning, creating, and managing content.

Our content and the way we produce it

We work together to create digital content that meets the needs of our users and our remit.

The content

We create bilingual digital content using content design techniques.

Content design is the process of using data and evidence to give the audience the content they need, at the time they need it, and in a way they expect.

Effective content design means knowing your audience’s needs, preferences, and expectations. When you balance these with your business goals, you can identify content design requirements that deliver useful, usable content.

The way we produce the content

We’re interested in creating repeatable processes to ensure content integrity over time and allow us to create, deliver, and manage content according to consistent standards and meaningful outcomes.

Content strategy encompasses four areas

  1. Process of creation

    How will content move through its lifecycle and what tools will we use to create, deliver, and maintain content?

    Who is responsible and accountable for content? Who needs to be consulted and informed?

    What standards and metrics will we use to measure our content quality and performance? How and when do we care for our existing content? Who gets to say no?

  2. User experience

    What are our users’ needs and preferences?

    How does the content need to be structured in order for users to find it?

    What are our customers’ journeys?

    How will we ensure the content is accessible?

  3. Style

    What is our purpose and remit?

    What is our voice and tone?

    What language standards do we refer to?

  4. Technical considerations

    How will we organise content for browse-and-find?

    How will we categorise or tag content for efficient management internally?

The digital team owns the NRW website

The digital team owns and is responsible for the user experience of the website and intranet.

This includes the information architecture, tagging, style guide and tone of voice.

Subject matter experts own factual accuracy of the information.

Colleagues work together to create bilingual content that works for users.

The comms team

These areas of the website are managed by the comms team:

  • news
  • blogs
  • the homepage news, blog and banner on the intranet

Sometimes content requests that come through the form will be passed to the comms team to be more appropriately handled.

What goes on the NRW website

The proposition explains what content should go on the NRW website. Check the need against the proposition before starting work.

Content principles

The content principles guide the way we plan, produce, deliver and govern content.

User needs

Duplicate needs from different business areas will have joint owners and they must work together when producing content.

We should create a list of NRW user needs. This is a piece of work that needs doing before moving to a new content management system.

Identifying a need for content

How NRW decides what content to publish:

  • SME knows about something new or a change, for example, Welsh Government policy update
  • Content designer sees opportunity for improvement from data (call centre, analytics, user research, feedback)

Content designers work on content with a clear user need. Usually there will be a high volume of users needing this information or to complete a task. They tend not to work on content that is only for a very small set of users or is for information only.

SMEs use the content request form

Subject matter experts use the content request form to get in touch with the digital team.

The smart form asks questions about the content and need, adapting the questions depending on the answers.

This form is sent to the team’s inbox, where it is looked at and added to the planner board.

The content request form covers

  • What type of content it is
  • The subject area
  • Who the audience for the information is
  • Whether there is existing content on the site about it
  • If the need is urgent
  • Whether there is supporting information

The content request form is looked at

If the request falls in ‘business as usual’ for example, it doesn't need a rewrite or redesign, it is managed by the digital officers. There may be a clarification call, depending on the need.

If it is outside of ‘business as usual’ it will be allocated to a content designer.

How the digital team manages its workload

During the two weekly content meetings, new content requests are added to the planner board ready for prioritisation and content designer allocation.

The team gives a progress update as to existing content that’s already been allocated.

The clarification meeting

The clarification meeting is between the content designer and the subject matter expert(s).

The purpose of this meeting is to agree the work and decide how it will be managed.

It is designed to discuss the important elements of the content upfront so that expectations are managed throughout.

Typically this meeting should last 30-40 minutes.

Areas to discuss

Areas to discuss include:

  • what the user need is and how it will be met
  • how you’ll work together, for example:
    • SME to provide source material and content designer writes content
    • SME and content designer create content together
    • SME writes a draft and sends to content designer to amend for digital platform
  • what the timelines are
  • people involved, especially for review and signoff

What content designers need

What content designers need from SMEs:

  • information about processes / workflows
  • any planned future changes
  • processes or schemes etc that sit alongside the one being worked on (especially if they affect the content currently being worked on)

Make sure you’re clear about asking about these - they have the potential to derail the content you’re working on.

Outcomes from the clarification meeting

  • the content designer and stakeholder(s) know what content will be created (or changes made), has the relevant information and knows the timelines they’re working to
  • it’s decided that a different channel will be used (for example comms)
  • the colleague needs to come back with more information
  • the content won't get changed
  • the content won’t get created

The outcomes will be shared with all relevant people.

This stage will have a huge impact on how the rest of the workflow happens.

Make sure all relevant people know what’s happening and what’s expected of them.

Too much communication is better than too little.

The content and publishing manual

If it is decided that the content will be created without a content designer on board, the content and publishing manual is available. It is maintained by the digital team.

Who is involved in creating digital content

The content creation process at NRW is complex, so agreeing roles and sticking to them is crucial to be able to meet milestones and go through the process efficiently.

Using a RACI matrix

A RACI chart helps people know who to keep in the loop about a project, and in this case, a piece of content.

The NRW content RACI helps identify who is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed about content, to help us communicate clearly.

The RACI can be filled in during the clarification meeting.

Agreeing roles and responsibilities

All those identified in the RACI matrix must agree their roles and responsibilities in terms of involvement.

Content creation

Content creation should start with two things:

  1. The user need
  2. How you’ll meet that need

It’s useful to list the information you need to be able to meet the user need, before you start creating content.

It is also worth agreeing this list with relevant people before starting to create content too, to manage expectations and work efficiently.

Content briefs

A content brief help you plan and structure content so you can meet the user need.

A good content brief includes:

  • the user need
  • what information they need (for example, eligibility criteria)
  • when they need to do it by
  • whether there are other parts to their journey (for example, logging in)
  • links to other parts of the journey
  • whether the information already exists on the site (so you can decide what to do with this)

Creating content together

The clarification meeting will mean that at this stage, you know:

  • who is working on the content
  • what the user need is
  • how you will meet the need
  • how often you will meet to discuss/update on the content

If there are several subject matter experts it can be helpful to have one as the ‘lead’ to organise and rationalise feedback.

To reiterate: the digital team owns the user experience and navigation of the website and subject matter experts own the information.

These colleagues work together to create content that works for users. There are several ways you can do this:

  • pair writing (at the same time or asynchronously)
  • subject matter expert provides source material, content designer produces the content
  • one drafts and another amends

Colleagues always review content together.

Creating content together helps colleagues:

  • discuss ideas on structure, terminology and clear language
  • streamline information gathering (rather than a lengthy back-and-forth process)
  • learn from each other and build relationships

Regular communication

The digital team and subject matter experts must make time to update each other and the others identified in the RACI. Managing expectations is a crucial part of successful content creation.

There also needs to be space for regular meetings between stakeholders and the Digital team leader to make sure the content creation processes are running smoothly. This is also an opportunity for different areas of the business to flag upcoming content needs.

Another communication channel to consider is with strategic partners, such as Welsh Government. 

To increase alignment in meeting user needs, NRW needs to be able to show how it is creating user centred content.  This could be done by making the content handbook open, by meeting regularly to discuss content needs and more.


The content designer sends content to the translation team. They will usually receive it back within a few days, depending on availability. 

If the content is high profile, it is worth considering pair writing or trio writing. This is where a combination of subject matter expert, content designer and translator work together to draft the content.

Content review and checking

Content is reviewed throughout the creation process and checked before publishing.

Reviewing content together

Colleagues review content together before publishing. It can be quicker and easier to do this on a call or in person. The review covers:

  • does the content meet the need?
  • is the information accurate? 
  • the structure of the content logical?
  • is there anything included that is not relevant to the user need or duplicated elsewhere on the site?
  • is it written in clear language?  
  • could it be shorter?

Fact checking

  • Subject matter experts correct factual inaccuracies. 
  • They explain what’s wrong and why. For example ‘the fee is £150, not £130’, rather than re-write the content. They should also say where the error is, for example ‘under the ‘how much it costs’ heading’, or using comment functionality.
  • SMES don’t rewrite the content, change the style or tone.
  • Fact checking can happen at any stage, but it needs to be as close to complete as possible.

From fact checking content on GOV.WALES.

Content crit sessions

Content designers can help each other out during ‘crit sessions’. These are short, informal sessions where someone brings content they’re working on and asks for help or ideas to help improve it. 

A crit session is a useful way to help someone feeling stuck, come up with ideas and share knowledge.

Content into the test site

Content is put into the test site so the content designer can talk it through with SMEs and stakeholders before sign off. 

Putting it into the test site allows for the content to be seen as it will do once it’s live, allowing for more context as to decisions that have been made in terms of content design.

2i checks

A 2i check (meaning a second pair of eyes) should be done on the final version, in context, by a content designer within the digital team. This will usually be in the production or test site.

If the content needs to change whilst preparing the final version in the content management system, then the content must be checked with the SME for accuracy.

The 2i check is the final check, and the style guide and writing for the web guidelines should be used. 


Proofreading is its own stage in the content creation process, especially as different parts of the content may have been worked on at different times. 

Proofreading checks for consistency, catches grammar and spelling mistakes and allows for anything not in the right tone of voice or against the style guide to be changed.

Digital colleagues do the proofreading of content for the NRW website and intranet.

Sign off

The person or team with sign off should be agreed at the clarification meeting, making this step straightforward. 

The content should be expected by the person giving sign off, and it should not need changes making at this stage.

If this milestone becomes complex and convoluted, it means the process to this point has gone awry. It’s worth investigating how and why this happened.


NRW’s website has a centralised publishing model. Only the digital team and comms can publish content to the site. 

Two other areas that are able to publish are: 

  • Recruitment for jobs
  • Days out content

Post-publishing governance

Content should be monitored to ensure it is factually accurate and still solving problems for users.

Monitoring content

Content should be reviewed:

  • as a minimum once every two years
  • when there is feedback or complaints about it
  • if something changes and it needs to be updated

Subject matter experts will be responsible for keeping content factually up to date. 

Data and analytics

To help determine how well the service is meeting user needs, data and analytics will be used including:

  • analytics
  • HotJar surveys, heatmaps, and recordings
  • call centre data
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