Skip to main content

2017: a year of content design at DVSA

Posted by: and , Posted on: - Categories: Content design

It’s that time of year when our thoughts turn to what we’ve achieved during the last 12 months, and what we want to do during the coming year.

2017 has been an incredibly busy year in DVSA’s content design team. We want to share some of our highlights with you.

So sit back, relax, and hopefully some of the work we're most proud of will give you some inspiration for 2018.


Motorcycle training consultation

Tweet about motorcycle training consultation
An example of how the videos appeared in the Twitter app

We designed graphics and short videos to promote our consultation about improving moped and motorcycle training.

They helped it become our consultation with the highest proportion of mobile and tablet views ever - 74% of views came from a mobile or tablet, and we received over 2,200 responses to the consultation.

Plain English diploma

After months of hard work and assignments, one of our content designers, Grant Chappell, was awarded with a Plain English diploma.

One million app downloads

DVSA theory test app
Our official learning apps are available on iOS and Android

We marked one million downloads of our official DVSA learning apps. They've had some amazing reviews along the way, and our theory test iOS app now has a 4.7 star rating.

Supporting transformation of DVSA

We designed a leaflet to help everyone in our Operations and Enforcement teams to understand how the agency was restructuring to better support them.

Our Civil Service people survey results show an 11% point increase in people saying they feel informed about matters that affect them, and a 10% point increase in people feeling change is well managed.


CBT video published

We filmed, animated, edited and published a new video about how compulsory basic training (CBT) for riding a moped or motorcycle works.

Since then, it’s had 31,000 views, with a 96.4% positive rating, and an average of 83% audience retention (how much of the video is watched on average).

National standard for driving cars and light vans

We took the PDF of the national standard for driving cars (the document that sets out what you must know and what you must be able to do to drive safely) and converted it into the GOV.UK manual format.

Since then, it’s been viewed 45,000 times, with 55% of views on a mobile or tablet.



Gerry McGovern speaking at ConCon5
Gerry McGovern speaking at ConCon5

DVSA’s GOV.UK content designers went to the 5th cross-government content conference - ConCon5 - in London. They were warned by customer experience expert Gerry McGovern about top tasks being ignored because the tiny tasks take over.

Hazard perception in the learning zone

Users can now prepare for the hazard perception part of the theory test on the official DVSA learning zone - a partner website delivered by Williams Lea Tag.

DVSA 5-year strategy

DVSA's strategy for 2017 to 2022 being read on a mobile phone
How DVSA's 5-year strategy looks on a mobile device

We designed DVSA's 5-year strategy and published it on GOV.UK as an HTML publication and a PDF. We also made hard copies available for our staff. It's now used as the good practice example of HTML publications in the government's content design guidance.

To help communicate it, we designed a leaflet for our staff, stickers, banners, and social media assets. We also published HTML and PDF versions of our business plan for the year.

Since then, our Civil Service people survey results show a 10% point increase in people having a clear understanding of DVSA’s objectives, and a 13% point increase in people believing our board has a clear vision for the future.


DVSA purpose published

We scripted, animated, edited and published a video summarising our 5-year strategy, to help everyone understand what we’re doing to help people stay safe on Britain’s roads.

It’s something that people from DVSA are now able to take with them to events to show who we are and what we do

Driving test changes announced

We designed a news story about the changes to the driving test. It's gone on to become the most read government news story of 2017, with over 1.5 million page views.

We filmed, edited and published a video explaining how the new test would work, which went on to get over 150,000 views.

We also designed social media assets - including a Facebook canvas -  to help our External Communications team spread the word.


The pre-election period meant that we were able to spend some time 'behind the scenes' working on things that were to come later in the year - but no new content was published during this time.


User research at homes

We're working with the Government Digital Service (GDS) to make it easier for users to find what they need on GOV.UK. To achieve this, we are:

  • grouping all GOV.UK content into subject-based categories
  • improving the content that sits within the taxonomy – because content that’s poorly titled, duplicative or in the wrong format is hard to find, no matter how good the taxonomy

To help understand what users need from us, we went with GDS to the homes of 2 driving instructors and 2 MOT testers to interview them about their day-to-day roles. It also gave us a great insight into how they describe things, and the type of language they're likely to use when searching and navigating.


Annual review published

We designed and published ‘We are DVSA’ - our first annual review. It summarises some of the great stories of what our staff achieved during the previous year.

Examiner training package

We designed and built a training package for driving examiners to help them understand the changes to the test. The online package included videos, diagrams and illustrations.


User research at the GDS lab

Continuing our work to improve content on GOV.UK, we attended a full day of user research interviews at GDS.

We listened to experiences of drivers, driving instructors and transport managers, and watched them do some basic usability testing exercises.

Don't take it out on our staff

We designed posters and a news story to help make the message clear that we won’t stand for anyone taking it out on our staff. Sadly, some our staff are verbally or physically attacked for just doing their job.

We also designed a poster to help staff understand what they can do to protect themselves and their colleagues. The campaign picked up national media attention.

Driving test centre posters

Before and after photo of posters displayed in driving test waiting rooms
Before and after the poster redesign

On the subject of posters, we redesigned the posters displayed in driving test centre waiting rooms.

The previous black and white posters were replaced with full-colour posters designed using our 5-year strategy branding. They’ve already made waiting rooms much more welcoming, and they do a much better job of signposting our online services.

Audited all our content on GOV.UK

DVSA GOV.UK content audit
We audited around 900 pieces of DVSA, Driving Standards Agency and Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (our predecessor organisations) content on GOV.UK. We checked their titles, summaries, format and whether they duplicated other content.

We’ve identified around two-thirds that we think that we can improve.


Driving test changes handbook

We designed a handbook to send to around 40,000 driving instructors about the changes to the driving test. It pulled essential information into one guide that they can keep with them in the car.

The handbook also encouraged them to sign up for our email alerts and to visit our Despatch blog for driver and rider trainers. As a result, 735 people signed up for email alerts, joining the thousands who were already getting them.

Show me, tell me videos

During your driving test, you’re asked 2 vehicle safety questions known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions.

As the driving test was changing, we filmed, animated and edited 2 new videos about these questions, to make sure new drivers know how to carry out basic safety tasks.

Together, the 2 videos have already been watched over 150,000 times, with a 95.7% positive rating from 577 ratings.

DVSA earned recognition for vehicle operators

We designed and published a guide about the pilot of DVSA earned recognition for vehicle operators - a new way to prove you meet driver and vehicle standards.

It’s helped more vehicle operators understand how it works and encouraged them to join the pilot.

Drivers’ hours fines

We designed a news story about changes to fines for breaking drivers' hours. If you drive a lorry, bus or coach, you must follow rules on how many hours you can drive and the breaks you need to take.

From the data we collect, we know it's a particular problem with drivers from Bulgaria, Spain, Poland and Romania. So we worked with our External Communications team and arranged translations of the story in Bulgarian, Spanish, Polish and Romanian to make sure drivers and operators from those countries are aware of the changes.


Another Plain English diploma

Sarah Scott, Deputy Head of Publishing, was awarded a Plain English diploma after months of hard work, assignments and training.

Improving content titles and summaries on GOV.UK

We started work on improving the titles and summaries of content on GOV.UK that had been identified by our audit earlier in the year.

Here's how we're making titles and summaries as clear as possible, without making it difficult for users who might know the unusual terminology.

A screenshot of the page on GOV.UK to apply for a coach to travel at up to 100km/h in France, before it was improved
Before we'd improved the title and summary
Screenshot of the GOV.UK page to apply for a coach to travel at 100km/h in France
After we'd improved the title and summary


User experience expert Paul Boag talks about the role of content designers in the long game of digital transformation
User experience expert Paul Boag talks about the role of content designers in the long game of digital transformation

We attended ConCon 6, networking with other content designers from around government and learning from what others have been doing. Check #govcontent to see great examples of what’s being done.


Get MOT reminders

We supported the launch of the beta version of our service to get MOT reminders. We worked with GDS to put a start page in place on GOV.UK and promote the service on the GOV.UK homepage. We also designed graphics to promote the service on social media.

There are already over 270,000 users signed up to get free reminders by text message or email.

Blogging about training

Grant Chappell blogged about his experience of taking the 5-day user research fundamentals training course - a course he says will change the way you work.

Setting up our design studio in Bristol

The space a team works in is a tool. It’s just as important as the choice of design software. So we're excited that we now have a dedicated content design space in Bristol that we're building to meet the needs of the team.


Changes to driving instructor tests

The way that 2 of the 3 tests people take to qualify as an approved driving instructor (ADI) work will be improved from 23 December 2017.

We designed and published a news story about the changes, worked with GDS to update the guides about the ADI part 2 test and the ADI part 3 test, and updated other forms and documents along the way.

We'd also updated 'the official DVSA theory test for approved driving instructors' product to reflect the changes earlier in the year, so people qualifying have every chance of being prepared.

The Official DVSA Theory Test for Approved Driving Instructor
The Official DVSA Theory Test for Approved Driving Instructor

Bestselling app of 2017

On 8 December 2017, Apple revealed the most-downloaded apps of 2017. We were delighted that the official DVSA theory test kit was at the top of the paid-for apps chart.

Driving test go-live

We made sure that GOV.UK and our YouTube channel was updated as we moved into the early hours of 4 December 2017, as the way the driving test works changed.

We published a new video, showing how the test now works. It's already had over 27,000 views, with 98.3% positive rating from 521 ratings.

Sharing best practice

We visited Network Rail to find out more about how their design team works, and to get some ideas about our new design space.

Following ConCon6, we also visited Ofsted to find out more about 'Clearly Ofsted' - their campaign for clear writing throughout the organisation. We hope to adapt this and roll it out across DVSA.

And much, much more...

These are just some of the highlights. During the year the team has dealt with over 640 content requests from people in DVSA.

That’s everything from a minor change of an email address on GOV.UK, through to designing or filming things that you’ll get to see 2018.

We think they’ve done a great job, and we can’t wait to see what they do in 2018.

Keep up to date with our work by signing up for email alerts or following DVSA digital on Twitter.

Sharing and comments

Share this page