Sorted and the thin content experience

Agencies across New Zealand government are now working with the Govt.nz project team to fact check the content on beta.govt.nz. Jane Ratcliffe, the digital product manager for sorted.org.nz shares her experience.

The Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income runs the sorted.org.nz website, the independent money guide for Kiwis. After orientation from the Govt.nz team at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), Bev, our trusty web publisher here at the Commission, tackled the task of checking Sorted’s thin content on beta.govt.nz. Some may have been surprised by our degree of enthusiasm, but I’ve been tracking beta.govt.nz with interest due to a close association, in a past life, with newzealand.govt.nz (which the beta.govt.nz site will eventually replace).

Adding value

We were keen to see all our great content on beta.govt.nz to help Kiwis sort their finances. Besides fact-checking the content we were pointed to, Bev checked other sections and subsections to see if we could add even more.

In some cases the material on Sorted is owned by other Government departments, like the KiwiSaver info from the Internal Revenue Department (IRD), or student loan info from IRD and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). But if we offer something extra, like our KiwiSaver fund finder, or content that no one else provides, like our guides to managing debt or investment planning, we suggested where it could fit, along with some teaser text and a link or two.

Bev had been struggling with figuring out how to apply for a replacement drivers’ license for her daughter in the UK, who had hers stolen in a French nightclub. So she didn’t need any convincing by those orientation examples of how people currently must access multiple government sites to gather info about a single topic. She was all in favour of the task-driven orientation and quick reference rewrites the Govt.nz team was doing.

And we were keen to ensure that beta.govt.nz fulfils its promise to be an exemplar of good information design, where the info is complete, accurate, relevant and up to date — a place where it’s easy to find what you need.

Newzealand.govt.nz is currently the tenth highest referrer of visitors to our Sorted site. We think the new beta.govt.nz site, with all the hard work that’s gone in to it, deserves a strong marketing campaign. The work underway to optimise the new site for search (SEO) combined with some search engine marketing (SEM) for launch should raise its profile and cement it as the quickest way in to government information online.

Next up we’ll be creating a spreadsheet that lists all our entries on beta.govt.nz. Content spreadsheets are a necessary evil when it comes to keeping track of everything, and we’ll also use it to mark up opportunities for Sorted content and tools to be highlighted on beta.govt.nz. The plan is to regularly review whether we need to advise of any updates such as when we put out a new calculator or new information.

The fact checking process

Overall the process from orientation through to final sign-off has been smooth for us, as we’re a lean team with quick approval processes.

And communications from the Digital Engagement team have been clear, with easy-to-follow instructions. The only thing we wondered was if it would have been easier for the DIA team, as well as the fact-checkers, if there was a structured form or template for providing feedback.

What’s been your experience? Leave a comment below.

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