Writing services for the web

A government service is a way for people to give or get something they need. An example is registering a child’s birth or incorporating a business.

On this page

Short description of the service

Start the page with a short summary (about 1 to 2 sentences) focused on the benefits of the service and why people need it. If you must include background information, put it lower on the page under a separate heading. 

Use short page titles and headings that clearly describe the service, using words people are likely to search for.

Audience and eligibility

The first step in writing a service that's easy to use is understanding who the audience is. Think about what people are trying to do, why, and what steps they need to take. Are there any materials, documents or other resources they'll need to complete the service?

This will also tell you who is eligible to use it. Make this very clear so people do not waste time reading about a service they cannot use.

List the steps to take

For each step people need to take, think about why, and merge or delete extra steps. List the steps so they're easy to follow. If they must be completed in a specific order, use a numbered list.

Make it clear which services are offered by the B.C. government and which are not. For example, marriage licences are not issued by the Province but marriage certificates are.

Contact information

Include contact information where people can get help completing the service if they need it.

Related information and services

Do a content inventory and audit to find related pages that align with your service and provide links to those pages.

Structure the service

To structure services for the web:

  1. Use short page titles and headings that describe the service using words people are likely to search for  
  2. Start with a short description of the service (1 to 2 sentences)
  3. Make sure to include a unique description in your metadata. Similar descriptions on a group of pages could result in poor search results
  4. Under its own heading, outline who is eligible to use the service. Be clear and direct 
  5. Use a numbered list to show each step using action words that explain what people have to do, such as 'apply', 'register' or 'complete'
  6. Review your content using the Plain Language Checklist
  7. Remove unnecessary details and link to supporting information
  8. Test the service with real people