Blog guest author information

The Web Toolkit Blog

The Web Toolkit provides guidance, tips, and strategic advice on how the public sector can effectively use online channels. The Web Toolkit is managed by the Advisory team in the Government Information Services (GIS) group at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). As part of the Web Toolkit, we have a blog that:

  • highlights case studies, best practice, innovative and transformative trends, and project lessons particularly when these have an all-of-government (AoG) focus
  • advocates for best practice across government
  • communicates information with a wider, cross-government audience
  • offers a go-to place for advice on how to provide government information online.

An essential element for success of the blog is that posts are written in an authentic voice, with a personal and engaging tone. We want to avoid impersonal, public-relations or media release styles, for example. Nothing wrong with those; this blog just isn’t the place for it. And we reserve the right to edit or reject blog posts if they don’t meet these criteria.

The short version

These are the steps to follow once you’ve decided on a topic for your blog post:

  1. Set-up. If you’re not already set up as a guest blogger, let us know by email: Web.Toolkit@dia.govt.nz.
  2. Complete your profile by adding a short bio and a photo.
  3. Tell us when you’d like to publish your blog post. We’ll need at least a week to review, make suggestions, edit and approve. Plus we generally have a few posts in progress so we need some flexibility to fit your post into the schedule.
  4. Add your blog post to the Web Toolkit CMS. To log in, go to https://webtoolkit.govt.nz/admin.
  5. Edit your post using the detailed information below for guidance on style, accessibility and content logic.
  6. Let us know when you’re ready for your blog post to be reviewed. Until you tell us, we assume you’re still working on it.
  7. Work with us to make sure the content is accessible, that issues are resolved (eg plain language) and links are added where sensible.
  8. After publication keep an eye on any comments made about your post. Approve comments for publication, identify any that are spam, or respond to questions.
  9. Follow the @WebToolkit on Twitter to see tweets about your blog post.

The rest of the story

How does it work?

We want your view on whatever topic interests you: in your ‘voice’, tell us about lessons learned, triumphs, how you’ve adapted to new ways of working, inspiration or insights. We’ll set you up with Guest Author access. You can certainly write your draft in Microsoft Word, but you'll have to paste it into the Web Toolkit content management system (CMS) as a blog post for us to review.

The basics

Blog posts must be:

  • engaging and written in plain English
  • between 500 - 800 words (if you’ve got a lot to say, split your words into a couple of posts)
  • written in the Web Toolkit content management system
  • peer reviewed by the Advisory team before publication.

For some great advice about writing for the web, see Content Designer Katherine Barcham's Quick reference guides: Web accessibility for content editors and Web accessibility for designers.

As a Guest Author, you won’t have publishing rights. but we'll work with you until everyone’s happy with the post and then publish. We usually have a publication date in mind but we’re not going to publish it until we all think its ready.

The audience

The main audience for the Web Toolkit is the government web community and digitally-minded public sector communications teams, as well as vendors, web enthusiasts, and government employees in other jurisdictions who are interested in AoG projects. See the "Why the Web Toolkit" post for more context.

Web Toolkit access

If you're interested in being a Guest Author, send the Advisory team an email to let us know. Once you're set up, you'll get an email with your username and password. To log in, go to https://webtoolkit.govt.nz/admin.

Your Web Toolkit profile

Your profile can be customized by clicking ‘Profile’ from the main menu of the CMS. (Note: the Web Toolkit is built on WordPress, but we're looking at moving it to the New Zealand Government's Common Web Platform in the near future.)

Biography and photo

Once you’ve logged in, add a short biography to your profile: what your day job is, how you fit into the government online space, the focus of your work, whatever you want to include. You can also change your password in Profile. We also require all Guest Authors to add a photo. It can be your favourite, non-work photo but not an avatar, cartoon character or a random image.

To start writing your post, click on ‘Posts’ from the main menu, and then select "Add New". You will be presented with the visual blog post editor. At the top is a field for entering the post's title.

Writing your post

  1. Although you can type directly in the CMS, copying and pasting from Microsoft Word is fine too. Please use appropriate heading and list markup.
  2. The first heading within your blog post's content should be a ‘Heading 2’, and all headings should be structured in hierarchical fashion.
  3. Headings must use sentence case: ie capitalising only the first letter of the heading and the first letter of every proper noun.
  4. If you upload or insert an image, you must provide an Alternate Text value. A Title is not a substitute and shouldn’t be used. Image captions are optional, but they must be different from the image's alternative text.
  5. Remember to save any changes (via the ‘Submit for review’ button) before logging out!
  6. If you have any questions about adding or editing content, please don't hesitate to ask us.

Adding tags and categories

Each post needs to have both tags and categories. Categories are high-level groupings of related content, while tags are more like keywords. Some tags and categories already exist, and you can select from these if they are appropriate. The default category is 'Uncategorised', which you should deselect. If you need to create new tags or categories, please consult with us first.

Accessibility caveat

DIA is responsible for the New Zealand Government's Web Standards. We take this very seriously and we won't publish anything inaccessible. But you don't have to be an expert; we can help you with this. Actually we love explain how to meet Web Standards. So if you're thinking of using images or video, build in a little extra time and let us know as soon as possible so we can work with you. It is not as hard or daunting as you might think.

Review and publishing

Our Advisory team reviews all posts before they get published. The focus is on content logic, making sure it’s written in plain English, and checking for Web Standards compliance. What we don’t do is change your ‘voice’, message or the intent of the post. We might make suggestions about clarity, links to relevant info or defining an acronym.

Also, note that the Web Toolkit has an AoG focus: we don’t use a DIA lens (or approvals process) for blog posts. We treat the blog as a channel for sharing information across government.

After your post gets published

Once your blog post has been published, it will be up to you to approve and respond to comments. Whenever someone publishes a comment to your post, you will be notified by email.

Blog comments are held in moderation until you approve or reject them, so please try to address comments in a timely fashion. We try to keep an eye on comments and delete any spam, but if you’re not sure of how to handle a comment, don't hesitate to ask us. And of course we won’t publish anything rude or derogatory. You can use these terms and conditions for guidance on what to do with comments.

We'll also let people know about your blog post by mentioning it in social media like Yammer and Twitter. Our Web Toolkit Twitter handle is @WebToolkitNZ if you'd like to follow us.

Thanks!

Chances are that you had to clear some time and space so you could write a blog post for us. We think that telling people what’s going on in the government online space is really important and want to say thanks for your contribution to the Web Toolkit.

If you have any questions, send the Advisory team an email. If you have any more ideas for posts, give us a shout. We’re aiming to keep the conversation lively and we’re always keen to publish thought-provoking posts.