Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Winner: Best Plain English Website — Public Sector 2021

Ministry of Social Development
Youth Service and Digital Communications Teams

Suzie Tingley, Ministry of Social Development

Website address

Judges’ comments

Kylie McGrath
Your website’s tone is friendly, engaging, consistent, and helpful. Words are clear, simple and engaging. Webpages are visually appealing and text is in an easy-to-read font.

Ginny Redish
The site seems very usable because the structure is easy to understand, the sections are clearly separated with headings and white space, the content for each section is short, and the language is simple.

The writing on the site is excellent. Each subtopic has its own space with a clear heading, very short paragraphs, clear writing.

Marjon Leemborg
I believe this website targets its audience very well and addresses them in a language they can relate to. The information is relevant and current, offered in bite-sized bits. The short blurbs are very clear, easy to understand and focused on the reader.

Media statement

Connecting with taiohi, young people, who need help from a government agency isn’t easy. While the website for the Youth Service Ratonga Taiohi contained the information young people needed — about benefits and budgeting help, education, training, and mentoring — they just weren’t using it.

When MSD’s Youth Service and Client and Internal Communications teams took a good, honest look at the site, it became clear why. It felt outdated, and the language wasn’t age appropriate. Content was framed for providers, rather than for our taiohi. There was lots of complex content in small text, and information was hard to find. Plain English it was not.

So, we changed it … after speaking to the young people first, of course. We engaged young people in the work of transforming the site’s content, language, and tone so that it speaks more directly to young people in a meaningful way.

Use of the new site tells us it worked. And we’ll keep talking to taiohi to make sure we keep giving them what they want in the way they want it. We’re proud of this example because its development was a true collaboration with the young people it’s designed to support.

David Venables
Lead Advisor, Corporate Affairs,
Ministry of Social Development