• Government Digital Service (GDS)

Introduction to Content Design

Discover the fundamentals of content design. Learn about user-centred content that's easy for everyone to understand and access.

15,936 enrolled on this course

Introduction to Content Design
  • Duration4 weeks
  • Weekly study4 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $69Find out more

Learn how to apply user-centred design methods to enhance your digital content

On this course, you’ll get to grips with the main concepts of effective user-centred content design.

You’ll develop your skills and confidence in designing content that is accessible, backed by user research and written in plain English.

As you explore the role of the content designer, you’ll learn the value of journey mapping and prototyping and how to use data to improve and iterate your content.

You’ll also learn how content designers work across government and the public sector, and have the opportunity to exchange tips and best practice with other learners on the course.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds Jason: This is An Introduction to Content Design so it’s quite a broad course. You’ll find out what content design is about accessibility and about what the next steps in furthering your content design career are.

Skip to 0 minutes and 16 seconds Nigel: Content design is used in government to take often really complex policy driven information and put it in a format that’s accessible and as simple as possible for majority of people to consume

Skip to 0 minutes and 30 seconds Jane: That we’re not just looking at redesigning some content on a particular page. We’re looking at whether it’s appropriate to have content on that page, whether things are in the right place.

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 seconds Jason: Anybody that is interested in online communications should do this course. If you want to understand how users read online, the best way to present information online, to make sure that people read it and understand it.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 seconds Jane: The people who should do this course is anyone who’s working as a content designer who is maybe new to content design or who just wants to know more about the skills, experience and techniques you can use with content design. The course is structured based on the activities that you need to do as a content designer and the key skills you need as you go through the process of content design.

Skip to 1 minute and 17 seconds Nigel: It’s about getting a sound fundamental understanding of what the discipline is and how it might be slightly different to other ways of working with content.

Skip to 1 minute and 27 seconds Jason: I think this course will make you a better writer, a better editor and a better listener.


  • Week 1

    What is content design?

    • Introduction to the course

      Introduction to the course and outline of the week.

    • What is content design?

      Learn about what content designers do and the skills they need. Read about what other roles multidisciplinary teams include.

    • Who are your users?

      Describing your users and why they need your content.

    • User needs and user stories

      Understand user needs and how to describe them. Learn how to write user stories and acceptance criteria, and why they're useful.

    • User journey mapping

      Learn about user journey mapping and why it is important.

    • Summary of the week

      Summary of the week, test and information about Week 2.

  • Week 2

    How do you meet your users' needs?

    • Introduction to Week 2

      Find out what you are going to learn about in Week 2.

    • Designing for accessibility

      Learn about how to design your content to make sure everyone can access it, including users with accessibility needs. Find out more about the different types of accessibility needs your users may have.

    • User research

      Learn about user research techniques for content designers.

    • Designing for a range of digital skills

      Learn about using the digital inclusion scale and researching the needs of users with a range of skills, including non-digital users.

    • Summary of the week

      Summary of the week, test and information about Week 3.

  • Week 3

    How do you create effective content?

    • What makes good content?

      What are the features of good content?

    • Structuring your content

      Learn about how to structure your content to make it more useful for users.

    • Prototyping

      Learn about why and how to prototype, including on paper and in your browser.

    • Be consistent, not uniform

      Learn about how to make digital content consistent, including using style guides and why we have them.

    • Plain English: why and how

      Evidence to support the use of plain English and strategies to help you apply this in practice.

    • Plain English in practice

      Take a look at some ideas on how to design content which uses plain and clear English.

    • Summary of the week

      Summary of the week, test and information about Week 4.

  • Week 4

    How do you improve your content and your skills?

    • Welcome to Week 4

      Find out what you'll learn in the final week of the course.

    • What is the content lifecycle?

      Learn about the content lifecycle and what you need to do and think about once your content is live.

    • Getting started with data

      Learn about the different metrics that are available to you and what they can tell you about the effectiveness of your content.

    • Improving content using data insights

      Learn about what common metrics can show you, and how you can use your findings to improve your content.

    • Working with others to improve your content

      Find out how you can work with other content designers to make sure your content is as good as it can be. Learn about pair writing and using content crits.

    • What does success look like?

      Learn about how you can measure the effectiveness of your content or service.

    • Managing your career

      Learn about how you can develop your skills further and get involved with the content community.

    • Summary of the week

      Read a summary of what you've learned this week and find out how you can join different communities of practice to develop your skills further.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate the main skills and knowledge needed for user-centred content design
  • Interpret common data measures to make content decisions
  • Apply principles of accessibility to content design
  • Reflect on your own skills and professional development
  • Contribute to the content community by sharing your experience and insights

Who is the course for?

This course is designed specifically for new content designers or for those who work in roles which involve content design.

The principles and ideas covered in the course will be useful for content professionals across all sectors.

What software or tools do you need?

To take part in this course, you’ll need to be able to access video and audio content (or you can use transcripts).

Who will you learn with?

Content Designer, Department for Work and Pensions. Part of the cross-government content community. GDS Content Campus peer learning alumna. Training and workshop designer.

Content designer and trainer. Previously Lead Content Designer at HM Prisons and Probation Service (HMPPS).

Who developed the course?

Government Digital Service

The Government Digital Service (GDS) leads the digital transformation of government.

We work with departments to help them with their own transformation, building platforms, standards, and digital services. Together, we work to make public services simpler and better.

We are agile and put user needs first.

We run GOV.UK – the best place to find government services and information. We also build platforms like GOV.UK Verify, GOV.UK Notify and GOV.UK Pay.

Learner reviews

Join this course

Start this course for free, upgrade for extra benefits, or buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year.


Join free and you will get:

  • Access to this course for 6 weeks


Upgrade this course and you will get:

  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • Access to this course’s tests as well as a print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible

Unlimited (New!)
$279.99 for one year

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year
Find out more about upgrades or Unlimited.