Web content strategy

Find information on our web audiences, our governance plan, content standards and how to access web training.

Content standards

Our site visitors are busy and want to grab information quickly, whether they are viewing traffic information or finding a technical manual. Content should be organized around your audience’s goals, tasks, and questions – not our organization or office structure.

All site content must be

  • Unique: Labeled as such – every page or file must have a unique name to make it easy to search for and find
  • Maintained: Create a maintenance schedule to regularly update content and remove anything out of date
  • Managed: Every webpage and digital asset (e.g. pdf) must have an owner
  • Planned: Know who your audience is and why this content should be put online
  • Scannable: Separated into chunks of content divided by headers

Only publish content that directly meets the needs of our visitors. Never publish a page before it is complete: there should not be any “under construction” or “coming soon” pages

Planning for quality web content

Know your audience

To avoid frustration, confusion or wasted time, it’s important to organize and display information with user-centered design (or UCD) in mind. This also ensures only correct and relevant information is available to the public.

People visit the WSDOT website to:

  1. Answer a question
  2. Solve a problem
  3. Accomplish a task
  4. Get the latest news

Our external web audience fits into four different groups. Find out who they are in our WSDOT Audience Profiles.

Requesting new content

Before creating new content or updating existing content for our web platforms, you must fill out a planning worksheet.  These worksheets will help you identify who will use your content and how we should share it.

When you have completed a planning worksheet, share it with your content lead to get started. If you are not sure who your content lead is, email WebHelp.

Creating web content 

After completing and receiving approval from on a planning worksheet, you can start creating your content. Before you start, check out the following tools to help you craft awesome content:

Guidelines for creating ArcGIS content 

Storymap best practices (PDF 108KB)

Getting documents ready for the web

Documents that should not go on the web:

  • Images or PDFs made specifically for a print audience such as posters or folios, which are graphic heavy. These can be time consuming to make accessible.
  • Documents containing a signature. This is a security risk as these can be copied onto other documents
  • PowerPoints that do not contain notes to guide users through and give them the same experience as those viewing the presentation. These also must be made accessible.

Web file naming conventions

Follow these guidelines to help track and find your documents in the Drupal content management system.

  • Each document has a short, unique and descriptive name that makes sense out of context
  • Use a dash (-) to break up name elements
  • Clearly identify what task the document helps users complete
  • Identify contents of documents
  • In general, no dates in the name as Drupal does that for you
  • No “draft” or “final” in the document. If it’s online, it’s assumed to be final.

Naming convention pattern


  • Topic: identifies program or topic under an office (not the office name)
  • Type: short, descriptive and clear label of what it is
  • Document titles: name of the document focusing on subject



  • Topic: Concerning the noise program
  • Type: It’s a policy
  • Document Subject: Policy on Hard Shoulder Runs


  • Topic: SR520
  • Type: It’s a map
  • Document Subject: It shows the I-5 to Lake Washington area


  • Topic: Rail
  • Type: It’s a report
  • Document Subject: The report on the Ultra High Speed Railway study


  • Topic: Communications
  • Type: It’s the one and only Communications manual

Getting PDFs ready

New documents must include keywords consistently in the content, document title, and file name helps our users find what they are searching for. 

  1. Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat DC.
  2. Go to Document Properties under File - Document Properties.
  3. There are three textboxes to fill in:
    1. First enter the title of the document, make sure it matches the actual name presented on the file when it is opened. The title is most important. Make sure you use a descriptive title containing keywords that may be part of a user's search.
    2. Then type in the author or office who put the document together and owns the content.
    3. Lastly, put in keywords, or words people will use to search for your document, in the keywords box.
  4. Save your PDF file with a unique yet informative file name. The file name will appear in the web address (the URL), so it should be able to stand on its own, even if customers navigate to it directly. See Web file naming conventions in this guide for more information.
  5. Now you must ensure the document is in Fast Web View for quick loading online.
    In Adobe Acrobat DC: click File > Save As Other > Reduced Size PDF select OK and rewrite the document you just filled in the properties for.
    Older versions of Adobe Acrobat: click File > Save As.. > Reduced Size PDF and overwrite the document you just filled in the properties for.
  6. Now your document is ready to be uploaded to our website and linked to.
  7. Once you link the document on a page, also add the document type and size and that content in parentheses is part of the link.
    Example: WSDOT Drupal basic guide (PDF 714KB)

Getting Word documents ready

Note: This also gets Word documents ready to become PDFs with the properties all filled in when you convert it to that format.

  1. Open the document in Word.
  2. Save it using the Web file naming conventions in this guide.
  3. Click File on the top menu
  4. Click on Properties, and then click Advanced.
  5. A new box will open up.
    1. First enter the title of the document, make sure it matches the actual name presented on the file when it is opened. The title is most important. Make sure you use a descriptive title containing keywords that may be part of a user's search.
    2. Then type in the author or office who put the document together and owns the content.
  6. Save the document and proceed onto uploading it to the web.

Maintaining content

Content must be reviewed every six months to ensure every piece of content is helping users complete a task. Pages and site content found to be out of date will be referred to a content editor for review and updating. If pages or content remains out of date, a Web Help team member may remove or unpublish content until updates can be made.

At least one content editor must claim ownership of every WSDOT webpage. If the content editor leaves their position and another takes their place, please let Web Help know. We will update our list of contacts and ensure the new person receives the proper training.

Tools like, Crazy Egg, Google Analytics, Site Improve and user research can assist with this.

Improving search results

Is your page not in the top of search results for your subject matter on the site? There are a few ways you can help change that.

Stay user focused

Ensure you are using terms that your users commonly use, not what the office uses.

People search for “jobs” not “employment” so we changed the page header to “Jobs at WSDOT” instead of “WSDOT employment”

Pages containing multiple words used in user’s search will be higher up in the results. Using common terminology and plain talk will help your page get noticed.

Documents are part of search

Every single file we upload to our website becomes part of our web presence. Old documents and images uploaded to Drupal but not embedded or linked to are still part of our search results. Please ensure your documents are properly labeled and their properties filled out (see Getting documents ready for the web.)

Update or delete

Content, on pages and documents, must be updated or removed once no longer needed. Ensuring there is a maintenance cycle (beginning and end) for everything you put online will help our search find what we need, instead of combing through old documents that no longer have a place.


Links must:

  • Make sense out of context.
  • Match the page title with the hyperlinked text so there are no surprises.
  • Be written in lowercase letters.
  • Always have a qualifier that states the type and size of files users may have to download or open.

Example: WSDOT organization chart (PDF 64KB)


Email links should be the full email address and not links on a name. This allows users to easily copy and paste the email address if the email link doesn’t open up a new message in their chosen program. For direct contact, use the full First.Last name format (see below.)



166,800 electric vehicle

registrations in Washington in 2023, up from 114,600 in 2022.

87 wetland compensation sites

actively monitored on 918 acres in 2023.

25,000 safe animal crossings

in the Snoqualmie Pass East Project area since 2014.