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Writing an introduction to registers

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Data Infrastructure, Registers

We’ve talked about registers a lot on this blog. We’ve explained why they’re different to other datasets, shown what they can do, and explored how they can link to one another. We’ve also described them in a little more detail on the website.  

For anyone who wants to find out what registers are, having this information in different places makes for quite a demanding user journey. Users shouldn’t have to read several different pieces of content to put together their own definition.

Some of this content also gets quite technical. This is perhaps unsurprising - a large number of the users that’ll be interested in registers will be technically savvy. But we shouldn’t forget those users who aren’t.

Developers who want to use registers to build services will need to know how they work in more detail than data owners, who might simply be looking for an introduction to registers so they can explain them to other people within their organisation. These are different user needs and should be served by different pieces of content.

Over the past few months, we’ve talked with plenty of people across government who manage, collect or store data and think they should be using registers.

This process involves quite a lot of meetings and emails. During these conversations, we noticed how the same questions would come up again and again.

We realised we needed some content which answered these commonly asked questions that we could point data owners to at the beginning of the process. Making sure data owners are better informed when they come to make their request means we can spend less time explaining registers as a concept and more time supporting them to develop their own.

This is just one thing we’re doing to improve how requests for registers are made. We’ll have much more to say about this over the coming months.

An introduction to registers on GOV.UK  

We decided to create a single page where users can go to find out what registers are and what they can do.

Much like GOV.UK Notify, GOV.UK Pay and GOV.UK Verify, registers are part of the Government as a Platform (GaaP) strategy. An introduction to registers should sit alongside content about the other GaaP products, so we decided to publish it on GOV.UK.  

Testing content with users  

We wanted to make sure the new content was a successful introduction to registers. Before it was published, we shared a preview of the page with a number of data owners across government.

We also sent them a short survey to find out how well they understood the content and how comfortable they’d be with explaining how registers work to their colleagues.

We invited them to comment on anything they thought was missing from the introduction. These suggestions, along with the on-page feedback we can gather through the ‘is there anything wrong with this page?’ link, will inform future changes we make to this content.

What’s next  

Now we have an entry point for anyone who wants to know anything about registers, our next challenge is to look at how we can improve our technical guidance for service teams and developers. We’ll have some more updates on that soon, so watch this space. In the meantime, do visit our new guidance page on registers!

Tom Hughes, GOV.UK Senior Content Designer

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