Get approval to remove

How to explain to content owners why their content should be removed.


Use evidence

You may find some resistance when you want to remove content. This can be true especially if your agency hasn't done this before.

People like to leave things up, just in case.

from Thinkplace Research, 2016.

Thinkplace were engaged to research and provide insights on user needs, pain points, and how government publishes (and could publish) digital content.


Evidence will become clearer after your content audit. Some things you can use when you start to scope the need for removal are:

  • using analytics to show the state of the content
  • checking that the content has a user need
  • checking that content supports business goals
  • analysing the costs

Showing the content owner the duplication that’s currently on the website, can help. You can do this in a few ways:

  1. Screenshot the relevant content and the conflicting information
  2. Ask the content owner to find a typical task using your digital service. Try to use a task with content they don’t own. This way they’ll learn how to operate the current system.

Identify the risks if you don't remove content

The audit will also contain potential risks if you choose not to remove certain content. This includes content that is:

  • outdated
  • not current
  • the wrong information
  • not optimised for search engines
  • on a page that’s never visited
  • a bad user journey

These risks can result in people having a bad user experience of your website. This can also negatively affect your reputation as an agency. The risk of providing people with incorrect information can lead to many problems for users themselves. This will result in a decline in trust between your service and your users.

Some agencies avoid using words like ‘delete’ and ‘remove’ because of the idea of risk. Trying using softer wording like ‘retire’, ‘archive’ and ‘decommission’ when explaining your process.

Freedom of Information risks

Users have the right to request government information at any time. This is part of the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Information can often stay online because of a fear of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request or legal action.

If information is archived currently, it can still be accessed at any time by your agency. This may involve contacting the National Archives of Australia (NAA). You might also be able to access older content from your CMS. Removal from the website does not mean there's an FOI risk.

The number of FOI requests can often be minimal. So you can use this number in your evidence for removal.