Principles of online communication
The European Commission has decided to rationalise and modernise its overall web presence. Getting there from where we are now means radically changing how we think about online communication and how we work together. The principles offered below are designed to help us do that.
We start by understanding who our users are and which of their needs we can serve.
We base decisions about content and design on evidence and data about actual users and their most
common interaction with our content – not on our assumptions. This means frequent and regular user
surveys and testing.
Joined-up digital services
Our content must get to the user in the right form – Commission website, social media, etc. – and
adapted for PC, smartphone, etc. – in the most resource-efficient way. It must fit all formats (without
rewriting). This will save resources and avoid confusing users.
Content over technology
What's important is the substance of our content. Our content must be:
- relevant, accurate and usable. Users are looking for topic- or task-related information that helps them answer their questions.
- clearly worded – using our users' words, so they can both understand it and find it through a search engine. This is also important for your image – as a professional, efficient organisation that is engaging with real public concerns.
Genuine transparency means providing easy access to useful information that users can reuse and
develop into new services and products for public use. Easier access to our information will help our
stakeholders to engage with us, at the same time keeping the organisation open, relevant and in touch.
Our content must be kept constantly updated in response to user feedback, and deleted or archived at
the end of its useful life. We must look closely at how we plan, deliver and manage content.
Clear content helps people 'self serve', thereby reducing user inquiries through more costly channels
(helplines, emails etc.).
Less is more (and cheaper)
Rationalising and consolidating our digital content helps us focus on key content with real value to our
users. A smaller volume is easier to manage – and deliver in multiple languages (where necessary).
Our users cannot be expected to make any distinction between our DGs and agencies. To most of them,
we are 'the EU'. As things now stand, a journey to the information a user needs can take them across
several sites, each with different look and feel. Adhering to good-quality common components,
templates and forms makes life easier for users – and cheaper and easier for us in the long run.
Collaborate and co-create
We must avoid duplication of effort and make optimal use of scarce resources by:
- proactively working with other DGs that have related or overlapping content and work together for a better user-experience
- looking beyond our organisation to improve our performance (how do others do it?)
- actively participating (asking for and offering help, expertise, input) in the growing community of digital/web/social media practitioners working on EU websites, including partners in the other EU institutions.
Invest in acquiring (and helping colleagues to acquire) the right skills, training and coaching to make the most of digital communication. We should look at how digital can help us work better internally, helping us work better across teams and DGs.