Skip to content

We use cookies to make the site simpler. By continuing to use this site and closing this message you agree to our use of cookies.Find out more about cookies

Close alert

Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice.

Our design manual

Our design principles

  1. start with user needs not council needs
  2. do less
  3. let your content reflect our brand vision
  4. design with data and interate
  5. do the hard work to make it simple
  6. for everyone
  7. build digital services, not websites
  8. content for citizens, not customers

Start with user needs not council needs

Use data to inform everything we do. Can we prove users need these webpages? Have we asked them?

Do less

Keep it simple, if the information is out there on another website link users to it – we don’t need a special Dorset version of everything.

Let your content reflect our brand vision

Choose every sentence, every image and every page with care

Design with data and iterate

Use all the information at our fingertips to keep improving our digital services. Polishing each one to remove the sticking points so every transaction runs smoothly.

Do the hard work to make it simple

Invest the time and resources to write and build excellent online services.

For everyone

Whether they use our website from  their phone, a PC or a tablet, we need to get it right first time for all our users. Accessibility and usability go hand in hand.

Build digital services, not websites

This goes back to the focus on user needs. Building websites is fun but our citizens need a quick and easy way to buy a parking permit or renew their library books so they can get on with their day.

Content for citizens, not customers

Stick to providing a service to citizens, everything else is a distraction. We recognise that some services, like country parks and leisure centres have different needs, so we have designed specific traded services components we can use to help them have a strong, competitive digital presence.

Our services

Around 100 different council services are represented on this website, all with different needs. For this reason we've put them in to 3 categories:

  1. GOV.UK style -  Services that are text and transaction based are categorised as 'GOV.UK style'. Users of these services are normally looking for specific information, and want to complete tasks as quickly and easily as possible. Examples are benefits, council tax and planning.

  2. Traded services - these are council run services that are selling something, and competing with the private sector. They need to be visually appealing and have their own identity within our website. Examples are leisure centres, country parks and wedding venues.

  3. Blended services - services that aren't necessarily in competition with the private sector, but would benefit from images and videos. Examples are libraries, children's services and the Dorset History Centre.

Writing for the web

To maintain consistent, professional, high quality web content we follow the GOV.UK content design guidance.

See also the A-Z style guide which covers style, spelling and grammar to be used on the website, word by word.

Common features

Across the whole site, we use hyperlinks, tables and bulleted lists. In some places we also use anchoring.

See an example of a page using these common features.


We use components in different combinations to create the website. Each of the 3 categories of services use a specific set of components.

Site-wide components

These components are used across the whole of our website:

  • contact card
  • contact card multiple
  • inline map
  • standard CTA

See a page using our site-wide components.

GOV.UK style components

These components are used for 'GOV.UK style' services on our generic template:

  • navigation links
  • related documents
  • related links

See a page built on our generic template using GOV.UK style components.

Traded services components

These components are used for traded services on our generic-wide template:

  • hero banner
  • horizontal CTA (call to action)
  • image with caption
  • image slider
  • navigation cards
  • promo banner
  • thumbnail gallery
  • UI cards (standard, feature and social)
  • video with caption

See a page built on our generic-wide template using traded services components.

Blended services use any combination of our components, both GOV.UK style and traded services, traded services will also use our 'generic' template for more general information.

Your feedback

This form is to report content that is wrong, or any issues or feedback you have about the web page.

Contact us if you want to get in touch about a council service instead.

All fields are required.

Leave your email address so that we can provide a response.

This helps us direct your feedback to the appropriate council.

General data protection regulation (GDPR)

We will only use the personal information supplied by you in accordance with GDPR. By giving us this information you are consenting to such use as set out in our privacy notice.