Identifying services: Tips

Learn how to identify your organization's services.

We know switching to constituent-first content can be confusing. We’ve gathered some tips to help you identify your organization’s services.

What is a service?

First, ask, “What do people come to us for?”

If there’s a clear, concise answer, you’ve got a service! (Hint: Most organizations have a number of services, so there can be more than 1 answer to this question.)

If there isn’t, we’ve put together some characteristics that may help you identify your organization’s services. A service:

  • Is something the government provides to constituents (private citizens, businesses, or both)

  • Is most often transaction-based (unemployment benefits), but can be information-based (flu information)

  • Is a collection of diverse actions or interactions (like “Apply,” “Request,” “Cancel,” all of which will become individual pages)

  • Can include cases where constituents have to provide information to the government (for instance, filing taxes)

  • Is usually managed by 1 organization (but not always)

  • Usually has only 1 application process (see below for troubleshooting tips)

Here are some additional characteristics that are important to note:

  • The name of a service should be a term that constituents use, rather than what people in government call it (for example, “Quitting smoking” instead of “Tobacco cessation”)

  • Constituents’ relationship to the service may change over time (for instance, “renew” or “manage” is part of the same service a constituent would initially apply for)

Each service that your organization offers will get its own service page, which is a one-stop shop where constituents can find everything they need to get something done. From there, they can find background information to help them complete an application, claim a tax credit, or simply figure out if they qualify for your program. They’ll also find how-to pages that tell them exactly how to accomplish every distinct task related to your service, allowing them to focus directly on the action or step they need at that moment.

What if there’s more than 1 way to apply for my service?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are the 2 ways to apply meaningfully different? (For example, are there different steps for one process versus another, or a different application altogether?)

  • Is there different supporting information associated with the ways to apply? (For example, different detailed requirements that 1 group must meet.)

  • Do they target 2 or more audiences that don’t have any interaction with or aren’t aware of each other? (For example, if the same form could be used to apply for a license to be a barber or a dog catcher.)

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you likely have 2 services, not 1 service with 2 How-to pages about applying.

Still having trouble?

We’re working to flesh out this document as we gather more information about the types of services our partners offer. Make an appointment with the Digital Services content team, and we can help!

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