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Create a life event guide

Get step-by-step information about researching, creating and testing a life event guide on vic.gov.au 

  1. Life events are a useful way to group government information from diverse departments, levels and branches. A life event guide puts this information together in a step-by-step format clearly showing what a person needs to do during that event. 

    These guides are based on the life experiences of real people. For this reason, it’s essential that the first step in creating one is completing, engaging or receiving  user research

    This can come from several places, including:  

    It's important to remember that, because life events are so universal, it can be easy to think your own experience counts as research. Using your own experience can help you to empathise with research subjects but it's not adequate research for a piece of content or solution.  

    Sourcing research from other jurisdictions 

    Before you begin working on a life events project, check if other departments or jurisdictions have already done research in the area. You can ask in GovX’s Life event communities or search on OneVPS: Ask the question

    If you are sourcing research from another department or jurisdiction:    

    • make sure you tweak and test it to include the Victorian perspective 
    • talk to the people who shared it with you about how old it is, what the context was and where there might be gaps for your context 

    If you are engaging an external agency to do research:

    • seek the guidance or assistance of an experienced UX professional in your department 
    • make sure your request for quotation and brief are strong and clearly outline your objective 
  2. Once you have your research, it's time to create a ‘map’ of your life event. There are many mapping tools online. The UX professional in your team or department may be able to recommend or provide access to one of these. If you don't access to a tool, you can use a spreadsheet.

    The GovX Life event mapping template is also an excellent resource.  

    Along the top of your map, plot out the key moments that occur in the life event you are mapping.  

    For finding a job, these might be:  

    • Get help to pay the bills 
    • Regain confidence 
    • Understand your strengths 
    • Explore job options  
    • Learn new skills 
    • Get support that suits your needs  
    • Make sure you can get paid 
    • Know your rights at work  

    These moments will fall often into broader categories. The above moments from finding a job fall into the categories of: 

    • Before you start 
    • Get prepared 
    • Apply for jobs 
    • Start your job 

    It can be helpful to insert a row to include these broader categories so you can see how to group the moments in your content guide later.  

  3. Deciding which government touchpoints might be most useful at each moment is best done in collaboration with subject matter experts from the relevant departments, branches or groups.

    Organise workshops with representatives from each area. Work with them to identify the steps a person might need to take online to get through each moment.

    Multiple perspectives will be required as life events generally don't limit themselves to one department.

    Once you have identified all the relevant touchpoints (which might be online or an in-person service interaction), add these to your map.

    An important note about approvals  

    While you are collecting information with each of your departmental stakeholders, make sure you ask about the approvals process in the department and whether any specific wording is required for the guide content.

    Use this information to put together an agreed approvals process with your stakeholders. Stick to this process and get written approvals before you go live with any content. 

  4. Now you have a guideline for the narrative of your guide and all the government touchpoints a person might need to use while experiencing the life event.  

    Meet content guidelines  

    All government content must follow the Australian Government Content Guide and meet WCAG AA guidelines.    

    If you are publishing your guide on vic.gov.au, you must complete vic.gov.au Writing for the web training and learn how to use the Content Management System. Publishing on vic.gov.au is recommended if your guide covers more than two jurisdictions, departments or levels of government.

    Format your guide correctly  

    The recommended format for Life event guides on vic.gov.au is in numbered accordions. See the First home buyer guide and Find a job – help and support guide

    Using the broader categories you identified when mapping your life event, create a numbered accordion. The accordion titles should be an action and begin with a verb. An example of this would be 'Get prepared' or 'Apply for jobs.' 

    Within each accordion, explain each moment as identified on your map, linking in the text to the relevant touchpoints. 

    Try not to make the text in each accordion too long. If a user needs to scroll inside an accordion, this is a good indication the text is too long. When using bullet points, try to limit these to less than 5. 

    If your Content Management System doesn’t have accordions then a list will also work. 

  5. Now your content is complete, you can either publish it in  alpha and test it there, or create a prototype and test this without publishing. 

    Testing a piece of content with real people who have experienced the life event is very important, as it ensures you have correctly translated your research into something those people can relate to and understand. 

    Testing should be done under the guidance of a UX professional from your team or department and can be done remotely (where users are recorded testing the content on their own computer using a testing platform) or in person (where users will use the content with a researcher or tester). 

    This step will give you useful feedback about things like wording, order and usability. Questions should be created with the guidance and help of an experienced practitioner.  

  6. Before you publish, check that: 

    • approvals have been secured from stakeholders  
    • content meets content and accessibility standards 
    • guide has been checked for spelling, grammar and any other errors by at least two people 
    • testing has shown that the guide meets the needs of real people who have experienced the life event 

    If you are publishing your guide on vic.gov.au, use the How to publish content on vic.gov.au – Vic Gov digital guide.    

    If you aren’t, we encourage everyone to notify us so we can link to your life event content so users can find it. The most common referral traffic on vic.gov.au is to other government websites so staying connected is a good way of promoting of your content. 

    We recommend including a feedback option at the bottom of your page, such as ‘Was this page helpful?’ to ensure your guide is getting regular feedback from the people who use it. 

    For further guidance on how to measure the success of a piece of content on vic.gov.au, see Measure how content performs – Digital Standards.   

Reviewed 09 June 2021

Vic Gov digital guide

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