Digital glossary

September 21, 2014 by No Comments | Category Digital Public Services,

This is a post by Donald Izuagba, one of our Business Analysts within the team

This glossary is a summary of key phrases used in the development of If you’d like to know more about a term that’s not covered here, please let us know.





Accessibility is the degree to which a system is available to as many people as possible. Accessibility has a focus on people with disabilities or special needs and their right of access, often enabled by the use of assistive technology.

Alpha Release

An initial release that proves out multiple elements of the longer term delivery. Alpha incorporates:

  • The proposed visual designs
  • Browse and search capabilities
  • An initial information architecture
  • Content from Justice Housing to the proposed content standards
  • User experience testing of the designs
  • Release onto the target infrastructure to the public

Beta Release

The beta release will provide a platform that will allow for on-going improvement to the service. Initially, a broad breadth of services will be signposted to the site and over time, content and transactions will move onto the platform or adopt the standards. Beta will incorporate:

  • A full production strength release covering resilience, security, scalability etc. on the actual production environment
  • Production of a service directory to allow searching across a wide range of public services
  • Creation of an authoring and publishing platform for sustainable content management
  • Information to support the engagement process including the following:
    • Service information
    • Benefits of repurposing content
    • Standards
    • Producing service associations to demonstrate the benefits of repurposing content

Channel Shift

Channel is the term used to describe a way in which a service is delivered e.g. by face to face, voice (telephone), web, TV, app etc. Channel shift is an activity which looks at how to optimise more cost effective channels while still delivering the core service to achieve a lower cost per user and lower overall cost of running the service.

Content Formats

Content formats are different ways of laying out content on a page. These are most commonly known as templates. Types of content format include:

  • Guides – An introduction to a topic (this is what you need to know) with sensible sub-sections. It is a collection of pages or articles, often presented chronologically that guides a user through a process. It will usually include a menu and overview that informs a user about the topic and allows them to ‘skip ahead’ to other sections (sub-pages) as needed.
  • Signpost – A page that introduces a link to an external website. This has minimal content that simply explains how the third-party website will help a user access the information required: If we don’t host it, we’ll show you where to find it.
  • Article – A self-inclusive page containing text (and other media if required) that meets a single user need without requiring the user to travel away from the page.
  • Quick Answer – A single page that directly answers a specific question in short-format right at the top, followed by further explanation below. E.g. – “How much is VAT? 20%” (followed by information about how VAT is calculated).
  • Smart Answer – An interactive process that allows a user to select options to personalise their answer. This is made up of a number of pages, but responds to a single user need.

Content Backlog

The list of prospective content items, queued for creation on

Content Breadth

Content items covering multiple themes e.g. health services, council services and others – providing widely representative browse information architecture to build a representational product.

Content Depth

Depth of content around one theme, e.g. large volume of content under housing.

Content Item

How content can be identified and assigned to the content backlog. A format has yet to be assigned to a content item at this stage. A single item of content comes in a range of content formats.

Publishing Platform

Commonly known as CMS, (Content Management System) it is an application that allows publishing, editing, modifying, organising, deleting and maintenance of content – and the management of its associated attributes and taxonomies – from a central interface.

Content Type (Internet Media Type)

Content type is a standard identifier used to indicate the type of data that a file contains such as HTML or video.

Corporate Information

Corporate information is an umbrella term that describes information relating to the operations of an organisation. 

The focus of the content is informational rather than transactional and can include its legal status, list of board of directors, policy information, mission, values, annual reports and recruitment.

Coverage of Content

Region of relevance, i.e. UK National; Scottish National; Scottish Local. We call this ‘region’ in some instances.

Fact Check

The process of checking the factual assertions in content items to determine their veracity and correctness.

Federated Content

Content which has been created by an identified partner for inclusion on This content will adhere to the content strategy and associated guidelines, and may be created in part or wholly out with the content production environment.

Federated Publishing

Also referred to as external publishing, federated publishing allows an identified partner to use the publishing platform to expose content to This process will be in line with the content strategy and access will follow an agreed level of training and guidance.


Additional and supporting materials that partners could consider if they lack existing capability in a particular area. Material to ensure consistency across the delivery of digital services.

Information architecture (IA)

Information architecture (IA) is the structural design of shared environments; the art and science of organising and labelling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability; and an emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.

Informational Service

A service is informational if a user needs to know something and the information being provided has no directly associated actions.

Live Releases is using an Agile development method which means that there will be multiple live releases of the site on an on-going basis. is a single, but not exclusive place for citizens, businesses and visitors to access public services. will enable people to quickly and easily find the service they need without having to know who provides it.

Product Backlog (PB)

The product backlog (or ‘backlog’) is the requirements for a system, expressed as a prioritised list of product backlog items. These include both functional and non-functional customer requirements, as well as technical team-generated requirements.

Product Backlog Item (PBI)

A product backlog item (‘PBI’, ‘backlog item’, or ‘item’) is a unit of work small enough to be completed by a team in one Sprint iteration. Backlog items are decomposed into one or more tasks.

Publishing Flow

A process which describes how content will be developed and moved to


Recommendations should be implemented where it delivers benefits for the user and is cost effective to do so. This will initially focus on the endorsement of industry / open standards.


This stands for ‘Services Transformation And Repository Scotland’. This repository will be the digital Scotland knowledge hub that will be used to drive decisions and activities for digital transformation and development.

  • A catalogue of services across government
  • A system with customer relationship management to manage interactions with the multiple organisations (local authority, NDPBs Non-Ministerial departments, Government agency, health).


A service is a set of actions or activities undertaken by a public sector body to deliver a product or conclusion. Services are usually provided at the request of a customer either as a one-off request (for example planning applications, parking permits) or as a result of the circumstances of the customer (for example local resident, local business, disabled). Services are provided by a public sector body either as a power (a legal right), a duty (a legal obligation) or at its discretion. Public sector bodies are typically funded, governed and performance managed by the Scottish Government to deliver agreed services in line with policy. 

Services Review

Services Review is an analysis carried out in order to identify the variety of services provided to the user by the various public bodies. This exercise identifies the services using the following definitions:

  • Name of service(s)
  • Brief description of service(s)
  • Service(s) type, i.e. transactional, interactive or informational
  • Source, i.e. URL
  • Current delivery channel, i.e. online or offline
  • Audiences, i.e. citizens, businesses, visitors, professionals
  • Related service(s)
  • Delivery partners

Standards, Recommendations & Guidelines

Standards and guidelines will be published that describe what the platform has implemented and that provides a clear guide for public sector bodies on what needs to be applied. These will cover:

  • User Experience
  • Content
  • Technical Quality Attributes
  • Digital and Search


The taxonomy is a hierarchy of relationships used to better understand what entities relate to each other and if they exist in a parent / child relationship. Taxonomy helps build out browse information architecture.


Testability is the capability of the software product to enable new or modified software to be tested.

Transactional Services

A service is transactional if a user:

  • needs to do something
  • the action changes something
  • wants to perform one of the CRUD operations (Create, Read, Update, Delete).

Transitioning (Transition)

The process of migration of content from source to

User Need

A user need is something that citizens, professionals, businesses or visitors to Scotland need to find out from, or do with the public sector. Initial research is based on the level of consumption of the content relating to that need.

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