Case Study: Department for International Trade

Supporting post-EU Exit ambitions with content design expertise

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has been in a race against the clock to build up its capacity in the run up to EU Exit and the transition period.

Nomensa was engaged to provide content design expertise to review, create and manage digital content aimed at UK businesses and overseas investors.

Created following the 2016 EU referendum, DIT plays a central role in encouraging British businesses to export and attracting overseas investment. Its digital content teams are responsible for thousands of pages of DIT content across platforms and services. The DIT's web pages on GOV.UK and receive around 100,000 visits a month.

The challenges

DIT needed to be certain that it had the right resources in place to cater for any EU Exit scenario while continuing to meet the needs of its thousands of daily users for more high quality content. Some of the challenges included:

  • Content on GOV.UK needed an urgent overhaul to make it more user focused
  • There were content gaps relating to import regulations of other nations
  • Support the on-going effort to breakdown silos and embed agile working practices 
  • Ensure EU Exit information on trade agreements and exporting better meets user needs
  • User journeys between the DIT's different platforms and services needed improving

It's been quite a ride.

As one of the government departments responsible for making a success of EU Exit, DIT was, and continues to be, under considerable pressure to deliver for UK PLC.

What we delivered

  • Transformed existing content on GOV.UK and to make it more user-focused
  • Created and updated content, as per Government Digital Service (GDS) standards
  • Produced videos and animations to support user journeys
  • Improved user journeys between different platforms and services
  • Provided content strategy support to 10 digital services teams
  • Audited content and advised on taxonomy and improved tagging 
  • Produced training materials to help scale content operation
  • Put in place appropriate metrics to measure content and tools performance

How we did it

Strategic support across teams

We flexed our content design resources to adapt to the needs of an organisation operating in a fast-moving Brexit landscape and tight deadlines. We scaled up our team to 20 experienced content designers in short notice to plug resource gaps.

Team Nomensa was was able to hit the ground running thanks to established onboarding processes and collaborative and transparent client relationship management. This adaptability and capacity to quickly immerse ourselves in projects already inflight helped DIT meet its business goals on time.

Governance and workflow

On the DIT's flagship service, we used Trello to create a content production workflow, which allowed the team to track the progress of content production from ideation to stakeholder review and approval.

The content workflow centralised our work and improved things like content standards, accountability and time management. The Trello board also improved collaboration with other teams, including user researchers, developers and designers.

Content production

Working to tight deadlines, we created a variety of content for GOV.UK and for UK exporters and importers, and international investors. The work involved researching and planning content, and pair writing with subject matter experts.

At Nomensa, we place great importance on producing clear, accurate and actionable content based on user needs, in accordance with Government Digital Service (GDS) standards. We use tools like the SMOG calculator to make sure our content is in plain English and easy to understand.

Video and animations

We produced in a very short space of time over 30 videos and animations for They were a combination of on-brand "how-to guides" and case studies of successful UK exporters. Our video and animation content strategy was underpinned by a thorough understanding of the user needs and's overall objectives.

The restrictions brought in to deal with the coronavirus pandemic forced the video team to adapt their working practices without loss of productivity. We were no longer able to travel to workplaces to film.

Case studies were produced using archive footage supplied by businesses and interviews recorded on Zoom. By adapting to the change of circumstances, we succeeded in producing additional video content within the original budget.

Performance analysis

We carried out a mini-discovery of DIT's analytics activities to make sure the data being captured was supporting DIT's overall objectives: to boost exports and inward investment. As part of our discovery work, we prepared a series workshops with stakeholders, including several COVID-19-enforced remote workshops, to understand their data requirements.

We developed a tailored analytics regime for DIT EU Exit-related services, consistent with GDS standards, including GDPR. The data is being used to improve the quality of DIT's digital services.

Knowledge transfer

As part of our deliverables, we collaborated on onboarding documentation to serve as a knowledge bank and how-to guide for up-skilling a future in-house content team. The onboarding resource includes:

  • Content governance
  • Content design principles
  • Content road map
  • Content types and components
  • Style and tone of voice guidance 

Collaborating with in-house teams, including pair-writing with subject matter experts and engaging with stakeholders helped to spread the value of good content design to the organisation.

Interested in bringing us on board for a similar project? Call +44 (0) 117 929 7333 or email