- Start with user needs.
- Do less.
- Do the hard work to make it simple and elegant.
- Iterate—then iterate again.
- Make it accessible and inclusive.
- Understand context.
- Be consistent, but not uniform.
We used these principles to create an early alpha.ca.gov style guide. As we got to work on covid19.ca.gov, we realized we needed to update this guide both to meet the pandemic and power future projects.
Today, we’re excited to share our updated content style guide.
The new style guide provides several benefits:
- Content creators only have to look in one place when they have a question about how we do something.
- We’re more consistent in our content.
- The style guide itself models how we want to write.
- Listing our content types sparks ideas for how to present content.
- We build accessibility into our writing from the start.
- The presence of a style guide makes us think about what more we can add.
The last point is important. The content style guide is not done. It’s a document that we continue to think about and improve on. At least once a week someone asks, “Should we add that to the style guide?” We have a dedicated Slack channel where we collaborate on additions and modifications.
In keeping with our principle of Do less, we’re hosting the style guide through Spacebook, a github-based solution. We chose this solution because:
- Our developers could set it up easily (especially compared to standing up a content management system like WordPress)
- Writing in markdown required minimal coding knowledge
Much like Alpha, the content style guide is part of transforming how we communicate with Californians. We’ve only begun our journey, but we know where we want to go and are moving there little by little.