May 12 2017

A new look website for Natural Resources Wales

Natural Resources Wales

S8080 recently had the pleasure of working with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on a comprehensive and ambitious user experience design project focused on improving and enhancing their public facing website.

The challenge

Although the website was packed with informative content, feedback suggested users were having trouble finding content and information and were having to resort to contacting NRW through traditional channels. Four key elements of our user experience design brief was to:

  • Improve information architecture (IA) and search visibility
  • Improve layout and template structure
  • Improve NRW’s link with recreation in Wales
  • Improve delivery of content on mobile devices

How we approached the project

Improving the site structure

In the initial stages, we went back to basics which generally involves printouts, sticky tape, a blank wall and a huge pile of Post-it notes – it’s all very analogue.

We took the existing IA, adding each key section to a stack of Post-it notes and recreated the sitemap of the website on the wall. Over time we organised, re-organised and chunked information together, rethinking ambiguous terminology and section headings and tested, iterated and simplified the user journeys.

Our final IA decisions were influenced by NRW personas (based on real users and analytical data) which gave us ‘top task’ journeys to simulate when testing the final IA structure. The new IA was shared with the digital team and stakeholders at NRW and following collaborative feedback and improvements, we developed a revised version which we validated by performing an on-line Tree Tests (Tree Testing is a technique used to evaluate the findability of content within the information architecture).

For a typical Tree Test, participants are given a task and are asked to navigate through a tree menu structure to identify where they believe they would find an item or piece of information. The Tree Test study gave us positive results and invaluable, unbiased feedback on areas for improvements such as cross linking or simple labelling changes.

Sketch to prototype

With the new IA tested and iterated, we could move onto the visual phase, rapidly creating wireframe templates using industry standard prototyping software, balsamiq mockups.

The key to success in this phase is to temporarily ignore colour palettes, imagery and graphic design and concentrate on the usability of the layout – the visual hierarchy of elements on the page and the terminology used, to assist the user.

The NRW website holds a vast amount of information and although we needed a suite of templates to suit different types, we were conscious that to many would reduce the benefit of introducing memorable design patterns across the website. To befit the wide-ranging audience with varying online capability, we created 3 key template types: Homepage, Service and Recreation.

The Services template type would be used for sections that had a specific end goal or transaction, such as a payment, licence or permit renewal, or informational content, such as what to do in response to flooding. The Services template group has minimal graphic embellishments and typically wouldn’t require photography or promotional areas.

The Recreation template type would, in contrast to the services template, have more visual appeal, allowing more use of imagery and encourage the user to explore and interactive with section content. This template group would be used for campaign pages and sections such as ‘Days out’: A section that showcases places to visit in Wales, including NRW’s visitor centres and attractions.

The Homepage combines elements from both the Service and Recreation templates and displays an oversized search box, flood warning data and a ‘most popular’ listing, dynamically generated based on user’s top-tasks.

Natural Resources Wales templates

High fidelity graphics

With the IA and wireframes finalised, we started the visual design to develop a single creative approach that has two distinct roles: 1. Simple service design with minimal visual clutter 2. A visually rich campaign template with imagery and interaction.

So these template types could exist together in one website, we created a masthead full-width strip that would appear across all templates. The masthead strip contains the page heading and intro paragraph. Attributes such as background colour and the branded graphics can be toggled on or off within the CMS giving the administrator control of the level of creative detail. This flexibility allows the services template to be simplified while retaining the consistent global masthead.

A strong brand and compelling photography of Wales allowed our design team to create dramatic campaign and centre pages for the ‘Days out’ section, aligning NRW’s recreation pitch with any modern tourism site online.

The inclusion of custom web fonts means the online presence can faithfully replicate the offline collateral, building stronger brand recognition and the use of custom SVG icon sets allow the NRW team to add high quality iconography as the content develops.

A fully responsive design has been rolled out for the new website with much of our design time focusing on mobile users, ensuring a truly inclusive experience across devices.
Natural Resources Wales mobile

Agile and smooth running

With any large project, careful management helps keep things on track. The project management team at S8080 worked closely with NRW during the planning stages to ensure all risks where highlighted and mitigated before any work started.

With many stakeholders and users feeding into the process and NRW’s existing development team, Method4 working on the build, collaborative working and meticulous progress tracking was critical to the success of the project.

Together with NRW, our project management team developed an agile approach to the management of the project. In the first instance, a product roadmap and a series of sprints (work phases) split into daily and weekly tasks were planned. These sprints would be reviewed internally daily, reviewed with NRW weekly and a stakeholder ‘show and tell’ meeting would be held every 2 weeks.  When possible, the meetings would be video or Skype conference calls with screen-share walk-thoughts as the UX design progressed.

Our design team also use online collaboration apps such as InVision to prototype designs and collect group feedback at key review stages of the project.

The S8080 team are extremely proud of the part we played in delivering this new user focused website, working closely with the digital team at NRW and the technical team at Method4 to deliver our ambitious, original vision in a very tight timescale.

naturalresources.wales

“This was a big team effort, with lots of input from colleagues from different teams and feedback from over 100 external customers that took part in our online survey. We’ve been lucky to work with two fantastic local digital agencies – the brilliant team of designers at S8080 in Swansea and the excellent developers at Method4 in Cardiff.”

Heledd Evans Digital Manager

Aug 1 2016

The benefits of the Drupal community and S8080’s maintenance and support

maintenance

 

Drupal is renowned for its flexibility and extensibility, proven by the sheer number of high quality modules available. By using common modules in Drupal deployments, we not only increase functionality quickly and easily, but massively reduce costs whilst benefitting from community security updates. This approach also ensures complete portability for our clients in the future. These are primary reasons why open source solutions are in such high demand.

The Drupal community has an exceptional security team that performs audits and manages the process of communicating their security update findings to module owners.

As an agency of passionate Drupal developers and active Drupal community contributors, every week S8080 get notifications from Drupal on any security releases along with alerts from other specialist tools we use.

These tools monitor all of the Drupal sites that we maintain, to identify all the relevant updates that need to be made to the Drupal core and the modules running on those sites – this ensures nothing is ever missed.

Our ISO/IEC 27001 secure development policies means we have strict protocols in place to ensure our website and online applications are patched quickly and to reduce exposure to any emerging vulnerabilities. When updates need to be made, we prioritise them based on severity and our team will deploy them to the sites that we mange for our clients. Our clients are therefore assured that their Drupal CMS is running the latest and most secure code.

How is Drupal and the modules kept secure?

If you are interested in understanding a bit more on how Drupal’s security team work, then this is a very interesting article: https://www.acquia.com/gb/node/2023186. Their infographic explains the process so well!

Drupal security release infographic

Source: Acquia.com

How does S8080 help the Drupal community keep Drupal secure?

Our Drupal developers are very active in the Drupal development community; it’s common for them to be working on modules and providing updates back to the community. For example, on the 20st April, a commonly used 3rd party module ‘EPSA Crop’ was announced to have a security vulnerability – initially no details were issued to allow the community to react.

This module allows editors to crop the images they upload to their Drupal site, so they don’t have to use third party graphics packages. The owner of this module was no longer available to maintain ESPA Crop, and therefore the central Drupal security team recommended that it should be uninstalled and no longer used. However this would mean that the thousands of sites using the module around the world would suddenly show images uncropped and full-size, causing websites to look terrible – something nobody wants.

This is where s8080 and the Drupal community came into play. We use EPSA Crop to provide an enhancement to the way users manage images in their site, we consider this module to be of importance to us and our clients, so as soon as we were notified of the issue we set about working on a fix for our clients and the whole community.

After quick initial investigations, before the details of the vulnerability were released, we spotted the potential problem and immediately started working on a fix for our Drupal sites and the community as a whole. We deployed the hot fix to the sites that we manage and support to protect them immediately.

Once the official security vulnerability details were released, we were pleased to find that our investigations were correct and we were able to submit our patches / fix to Drupal very early for review by the community. Along with our patches and those of other members of the community, an official fix was released. We then set about the process of updating all of our managed sites with the official fix.

In this particular instance, S8080’s proactive approach to security and our interaction with the Drupal community meant that our managed service clients benefitted from very early protection from potential hacking attempts. And without resorting to making their sites look dreadful by removing the module!

Just as importantly the community and other websites benefited from our work by getting a fix to the module very quickly.

We think this is a great way to work.

Jul 6 2016

Umbraco – Lee Valley Park Farms – one for the kids this summer!

Lee Valley Farms

 

Due to the great success of the White Water Centre website which we built using the Umbraco CMS for our long standing partner Lee Valley, we were asked to create an Umbraco site to promote the Farms in the Park, with the website design appealing to children as well as parents.

The brief was simple, make it engaging for children (and mum and dad), show off the animals and events and make the site easy for the team to update.

Our team thoroughly enjoyed working on the site (and we had a great day out too!), Lee Valley Park Farms had lots of great images and it gave the creative team the opportunity to use some fab animal cartoons to add something a little different to the site without overcomplicating things.

See: www.lvfarms.co.uk

Aug 19 2015

Drupal 7 and the release of Drupal 8

Over the past few months we’ve been working with a number of new clients on redeveloping and moving their sites over to Drupal, and with the release of Drupal 8 in the pipeline we’ve been answering questions about Drupal 8 release dates, migration from previous versions of Drupal and more which I wanted to share…

When will Drupal 8 be ready?

Drupal 8 release date has not been announced and is a case of its done when it is done… Here is the official dev cycle.

Our Drupal team (a number of whom are very active in the Drupal community contributing heavily to Drupal) estimate that it will be released early next year.

As Dries (Dries Buytaert is the original creator and project lead of Drupal) says “Drupal 8 will be ready when it’s ready

After release how long does it take to be stable?

From our experience there is a plateau which needs to be reached after the release date of any new version to ensure a secure and robust platform, particularly on more complicated solutions which use numerous modules.

According to Dries, the plateau of productivity for Drupal 7 happened 6-9 months after the release date of the new version, from our experience we agree and think it’s safe to assume a similar timeframe for Drupal 8

SEE: http://buytaert.net/how-i-think-about-drupal-release-date-planning

The reassuring fact is that Drupal has a system in place called LTS (long term support) and generally covers support for the current version and the previous version of Drupal.

SEE Drupal Long term support: https://www.drupal.org/d6-lts-support

Support for Drupal 7 – how long will it be supported?

As the LTS covers the current and previous version, support for Drupal 6 will start to expire when Drupal 8 reaches its LTS release – long past the Drupal 8 release date.

This means that Drupal 7 will be supported for security updates well past the Drupal 9 release date and onwards until Drupal 9 itself reaches a stable LTS release which is estimated to be around 2019+ based on the current release cycle.

What is the upgrade Path from Drupal 7 to 8 and onwards over time?

One of the great new features of Drupal 8 is a vastly improved migration path from previous versions of Drupal, the Drupal community have been working hard to help Drupal 6 site owners upgrade to Drupal 8 now the support will be coming to an end and they have added migration support into the core of Drupal 8 to upgrade from 6/7 as smoothly as possible.

This upgrade path will be present in Drupal 9 as well so that a Drupal 7 site can exists for many years before needing to be upgraded and when that time comes the process should be as smooth as possible. This is significantly better than other CMS’s we work with.

Maintainability – upgrading a site to a new version

The ease of upgrading a site to a new version of Drupal depends largely on how well it is built, a properly built site that is modular in its construction and follows best code practices (which we do and we run code review audits on) will allow each module’s code to be upgraded in isolation and re-integrated into the new Drupal site much easier than a site that has a large spaghetti codebase that has to be recoded from scratch during an upgrade. A little care and attention when building the site means you will always have an upgrade path to follow.

Related Drupal Links: https://www.drupal.org/d6-lts-support

So if we are considering a project now should we develop in Drupal 7 or 8?

This really depends on the complexity of the project and the timings – through the discovery phase of the project we weigh up the pro’s and con’s along with the project time line, modules required and organisation’s objectives and discuss this in some detail.

Fortunately, our team has experienced many upgrades of many different CMS products over the years, we have found Drupal to be a better path for upgrades than some very expensive commercial CMS products, and similarly the rate of release for security patches / updates is excellent.

Drupal 8 is an exciting release, hopefully this post has helped to answer some of your questions.

If you want to see how we’ve helped our clients take a look at our Custom Drupal Development.

 

drupal-cms

Jan 22 2013

Web design for CAMHS

Surrey Camhs website design by S8080

 

Over the past couple of years, we’ve worked on several web design projects for CAMHS organisations (child and adolescent mental health services). CAMHS websites bring there own special set of challenges due to the young audience and the sensitive nature of the subject matter.

Our first was the Surrey CAMHS website, which was seen as groundbreaking and showed what could be done when a user centred design approach was adopted. We then designed and built two websites for Coventry and Warwickshire NHS – the Moodleton site for younger children and a mobile app based web development for young adults.

Just before Christmas, we started work on another CAMHS web development for a third NHS Partnership trust (more information soon), with a series of alignment meetings with the comms team and the practitioners.

These meetings help us shape the personas, information architecture and web site wireframes and are a valuable forum for brainstorming ideas for engaging the young audiences from the actual people who work with them to overcome their problems.

Content management systems

All of the web sites use a content management system (Drupal, Umbraco, WordPress, even SharePoint in Coventry and Warwickshire’s case) to enable the comms teams to update the website without having to ask a web design agency.

Having a CMS website also means the practitioners can offer up to date advice and information to parents, carers and professionals as well as the young people quickly and efficiently.

The use of open source CMS software means that available budget can be used to develop interactive elements and even mobile website design rather than hefty software license fees.

camhs moodleton website design by S8080

Branding

As you can imagine, each NHS Partnership Trust has very strict brand guidelines, but it’s often the case that their brand agency aren’t digital experts, so it falls to us to extend their brand identity to work well online and for the young target audiences.

During our stakeholder meetings and requirements gathering, we often hear “we don’t want it to look like an NHS website – it puts the young people off”. This is where creative design, carefully balanced with adherence to the brand guidelines comes into play. You can see above how the NHS brand is placed, but the focus is on the creative, characters and the sub brand.

Coming to CAMHS

coming to camhs website design by S8080

Being referred to CAMHS is a difficult time for young people, their carers and families, and a little consideration of how they are actually feeling (and this is where the practitioner’s input into the web site design is so valuable) can help them understand why they feel the way they do, how they can be helped and who will help them.

If you would like to chat about how S8080 could help you design your CAMHS website, call 01792 485566 and ask for me, Chris Cowell, or email info@s8080.com.

Sep 28 2012

Royal College of Anaesthetists – Drupal site goes live

The Royal College of Anaesthetists Drupal website design S8080

 

S8080 recently launched a brand new website for the Royal College of Anaesthetists, using the open source Drupal platform.

This is one of several larger Drupal sites we’ve rolled out this year as our clients are seeing the benefits of building on an open source platform – including WordPress for the smaller websites and Umbraco when we need to develop bespoke functionality using the Microsoft .NET framework.

The RCoA team had a very well defined set of requirements and an enthusiasm for the open source ethos. We worked with them to refine the project scope before deciding on the final CMS – and Drupal came out on top.

drupal logo S8080

The website uses some of Drupal’s more advanced features and modules and functionality includes a searchable document store with filters, forums with secure areas and a calendar and events system.

It’s always a pleasure to receive positive feedback at the end of a major project and after launch we had the following email from Bob Williams, The RCoA Professional Standards Manager…

”We have received many compliments about the new website from College staff, College officials, clinicians, other medical colleges and outside agencies. There is no doubt without the superb working relationship we had between our teams; we would not be where we are today. Please pass our thanks on to all your team members”.

Sep 27 2012

EPiCertified

The dev’ and projects teams have received their EPiServer certificates and are in the thick of a major project that we can’t wait to shout about!

episerver

Sep 25 2012

Lee Valley Regional Park after the Olympics

London-2012-Legacy

One of our oldest clients, Lee Valley Regional Park, had a very important part to play during the Olympics, as four world class London 2012 venues were within its boundaries.

The VeloPark, White Water Centre, Hockey Centre and Tennis Centre saw incredible action during the Games and now the venues are being handed back for everyone to enjoy.

S8080 were contracted for a major website redesign, from the ground up, to be completed in good time for the Olympics and our own Microsoft .NET CMS was deployed due to the Parks very bespoke requirements.

The website is made up of two parts, visitleevalley.org.uk and leevalleypark.org.uk, one is a consumer site and one the corporate site, but all controlled from the same CMS.

The bespoke applications we developed include an itinerary planner, photo gallery, wild life sightings, news and events. Our taxonomy system makes it very easy for the Lee Valley team to share content across the sites.

Sep 13 2012

S8080 gain EPiServer Partner status

S8080 are very pleased to announce that we are now a EPiServer Partner, enabling us to develop and support online solutions using the EPiServer platform.

EPiServer is a powerful suite of products, based on Microsoft’s .NET framework. The company is the world’s fastest growing provider of content management, online social community and e-commerce platforms.

Users of the EPiServer platform include P&O Cruises, Volvo, Legoland, Skoda, Securitas, Saab, Barratt Homes, Silverstone, Cunard, British Gas and NHS.

 

S8080: EPiServer Partner UK

Mar 4 2009

DECC website is live

Working with COI, S8080 have just launched a website for the DECC, headed up by Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change was created in October 2008, bringing together energy policy (previously with BERR – the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) with climate change mitigation policy (previously with Defra – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

We face unprecedented challenges to our environment, our economy, and the future security of our energy supplies – and the decisions we make now will affect the planet and our way of life for generations to come.

DECC exists to tackle these challenges. Our creation reflects the fact that climate change and energy policies are inextricably linked – two thirds of our emissions come from the energy we use. Decisions in one field cannot be made without considering the impacts in the other.

The short turnaround project was completed using S8080’s content management system. Matt Howard, S8080’s Technical Director said “The project had a short lead time, but working with COI and a very reactive client meant the project ran very smoothly”.

Mar 3 2005

Fully accessible, AAA, Bilingual CMS and Website applications

S8080 has always been proud of its track record of building accessible sites which download quickly, look great and are easy for the client to update via s8080’s content management solution (CMS) and website applications.

From day one, we have produced a fully bilingual CMS and applications which are highly accessible both for the end user and the client updating the website.

S8080 is working hard to break down barriers ensuring your website is accessible and exceeds the latest government guidelines on web accessibility. Matt Howard, Technical Director said

Our latest CMS is WAI AAA compliant, Bilingual and allows a visitor to browse your site through a screen reader or the latest browser. The new CMS even has the functionality to produce text only versions of the site in 2 languages…What’s more we’ve spent considerable time ensuring that all of our web solutions are very easy for staff to use and update”.

Our Triple A CMS is now being rolled out numerous government bodies, large government departments and public organisations throughout the UK.

For a full demonstration or more information on our Triple A CMS please contact info@s8080.com or call us on: 01792 485566.