Defining our work for standards and guidelines, an introduction

August 11, 2014 by No Comments | Category Digital Public Services,

This is post by Calum Shepherd, our Head of Digital Strategy and is part of our series on Standards & Guidelines

The term standard  can mean different things when used by different people, so it’s important we are clear about our usage with you. We have opted not to use standards as a single way of describing material created as part of the programme, instead opting to use standards, recommendations and guidelines.

What are the definitions of standards, recommendations and guidelines?

  • Standards – a set of requirements that a service must implement, unless a specific exception is made
  • Recommendations – recommendations should be implemented where it delivers benefits for the user and is deemed cost effective to do so (e.g. it will not involve large costs). This will initially focus on the endorsement of industry / open standards
  • Guidelines – additional and supporting material that partners could consider if they lack existing capability in the relevant area

When creating material, we will also be revisiting and refreshing our core digital principles – providing insight into our overall approach.

Who are the intended audience?

Our initial audience for all material is the immediate team. We have been producing bits and pieces to various levels of completeness, throughout the division, whilst delivering our first alpha release. It’s our current thinking and we are putting it into practice. Once tidied up, we aim to make material readable and usable for a wider audience.

  1. Created for Scottish (Central) Government & NDPBs, whose content or transactional services may appear on
  2. Made available to the wider public sector

What things are the team looking at first?

  • Blog posts – early thoughts ranging from content style to quality attributes, made available on We’ll be looking at what’s out there already, taking this into account before needlessly recreating content.
  • Draft documents – we will produce a series of initial documents in line with the development of alpha, making them available in a section on

We will also be doing an initial light touch review of our colleagues work in Government Digital Service (GDS). We aim validate material that is appropriate, relevant and in line with our thoughts as soon as we can. This won’t be overnight, but is something we are looking at as a priority.

We’re also actively exploring how to bring all this together into a coherent, consistent offering that is easy to read and to understand.

When will this material be made available?

Blog posts and draft documents will be made available on an on-going basis, released both iteratively and in chunks. They will be light, informative and will avoid duplication wherever possible.

  • This blog post is the first in a series focused on our initial run of topics. Expect these posts over the next few weeks
  • Draft documents will be made available once we have articulated and tested our thoughts on subjects through our delivery teams. Expect these to be available on the web once we have confirmed a route for publishing

Our first run of posts will cover early thoughts on topics including:

  • Quality attributes
  • Content style
  • Visual (branding, styling, look and feel)
  • User experience
  • Accessibility
  • Information security

Who will be approving and ratifying this material?

We need to ensure that all draft documents are suitably assured. This means we need to actively seek out representation, where appropriate, to instil a level of trust in their quality and appropriateness. We are currently exploring options.

Is there any support available?

We aim to support efforts through our transformation team, with initial engagement taking place through a list of early partners. In the interim, keep checking back!

We’ll be sharing this post and more on social, so follow the team via @mygovscot on Twitter for more updates. Have a comment? Add it below!



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