Nov 10 2011

A new website for the National Assembly for Wales

Late last week, after many months of hard work, we launched the brand new website for the National Assembly for Wales.

Well, I say ‘new’…

Earlier this year, we won the contract to redesign and redevelop the NAfW website, but instead of implementing a new content management system, we would be working into their legacy CMS system. This would give significant cost savings.


One of our tasks was to improve the usability of the website. We used many sophisticated techniques to ensure it would be easy to navigate. We started with a content audit of the existing site to help us determine the depth and breadth of the site and categorise the types of information that the Assembly needed to present (and the stuff they didn’t!)

Then we developed a suite of personas – based on real people who use the website – and scenarios of use and user journeys for each of these. This ensures that everything going forward is based firmly on a User Centred Design approach. We interviewed many types of users, including AMs, journalists, and members of the public to find our exactly what they needed and how they wanted to use the site.

Information architecture

Once these two stages were complete, we could then use the findings to redevelop the information architecture (site map) and create a set of wireframes that explain each key page in detail and the way the users will interact and travel through the site – making their journey as easy as possible. Wireframes really do help save time and money on all web projects as amendments can be made quickly and cheaply, before the ‘look and feel’ or coding is developed. It’s a very agile and cost effective approach.

Getting creative

Then we moved into the design phase. After consultation, we presented three distinct creative routes. The Assembly project team gathered thoughts and feedback and the final creative direction was decided upon. This design was then implemented into the CMS, and the resulting templates were accessibility tested to ensure everyone would be able to use and enjoy the content on the new site.

Then came the mighty task of applying the design to the content – thousands of pages of information.

After one more round of accessibility testing, the new site was launched without a hitch thanks to the hard work of many people from S8080, The National Assembly for Wales, and our project partners Method4. Thank you everyone, it was an immense task.

You can see the new website at

We’re very grateful to S8080 for the hard work they’ve put into this project, and we’re immensely pleased with the final product. From the outset, they stood out head and shoulders above their competitors, with their down to earth attitude and excellent project management skills. They took the time to understand our needs as an organisation, and now the result is a clean and crisp design and a new site architecture that is helping visitors to our site find what they are looking for and enjoy the site experience.”

Iwan Williams, Media, Brand and e-Democracy Manager

National Assembly for Wales

Nov 10 2011

Designing the new Number 10 website

Back in August,we announced that S8080 were asked to help with the redesign for the newly launched 10 Downing Street website, built in WordPress – the open source web publishing platform. It’s a high profile, high load open source website.

We were absolutely delighted that our modestly sized regional agency was awarded the contract, managed by COI, for what is arguably one of the most high profile Government websites in the world. We have worked hard since starting S8080 in 2000 to build up our experience and reputation and to be recognised at this level makes the whole team very proud.

A very agile and hands-on project management style was called for, to help with the quick turnaround and very busy client!

After visiting the historic office of the British Prime Minister, our User Experience (UX) team set to work refining the way the wealth of information was presented, taking into account the needs of the varied audience types.

We worked hard providing recommendations on the restructuring of the website based around the audience’s needs. This involved prototyping ways of presenting the serious business of the Coalition Government’s policies, ‘Take Part’ initiatives as well as the interactive elements of the website including the history of the building, a timeline of Prime Ministers and much more.

Once the website blue prints (wire frames) had been designed, S8080’s creative team took over. The team visited Downing Street a couple of times, immersing ourselves in the history and details that make this one of the most recognisable buildings in the world. We wanted to show it as a thoroughly modern office but also as a building steeped in history.

We took hundreds of photographs, including the classic ‘10’ that is used on the masthead of the website – an icon that is recognised worldwide
We took hundreds of photographs, including the classic ‘10’ that is used on the masthead of the website – an icon that is recognised worldwide

It was a nerve-wracking couple of days waiting for sign off from the top, but we were confident that we had provided a very well-considered and user centred design. We feel we have achieved the sense of gravitas that the office deserves without it looking like a tourist attraction.

At the end of the day, it’s just another very busy office with lots of toing and froing, as we found out when trying to photograph the door in the gaze of paparazzi on Budget Day!

Jul 19 2010

S8080’s email skills recognised

One of the email invites we designed for the 2010 e-Crime Wales Summit made the Campaign Monitor Gallery today. We developed a series of emails that were broadcast on the run up to the event, held on Thursday in the Celtic Manor Resort – each pushing our front end development team with the demanding build required to show the design at its best in a multitude of email clients.

Davida Fernandez of Campaign Monitor said…

“I really like the unusual layout of this email designed by s8080, especially the way the map graphic is burning into the main content and the way the free floating secondary content is flanking the middle column. The three colour bar background is so interesting and provides a foundation for the important links on the left hand side. The nice narrow column always helps with readability, too. Super cool job on this one.”

We have specialised in email newsletter and campaign design, production, broadcast, list management and analytics for quite a few years now and have 100’s of successful ‘mails under our belts.

We are currently running a stunning and groundbreaking campaign for Welsh Assembly Government’s  IBW and as soon as they have all been delivered, we show them on the blog.

Jun 22 2010

Lunch at Buckingham Palace

It’s not often an invitation to join Prince Edward for lunch in Buckingham Palace arrives in the post, so when we received ours from the team at the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, we were pretty pleased!

We have been working with DofE for a couple of years now and the lunch was to say ‘thanks’ to their digital suppliers and outline how the organisation will be expanding their digital activities in the future.

So we jumped on the train yesterday morning and arrived at the side entrance of the palace only to be told that we were expected at the main front gate! They were Changing the Guard at the time, so to the sound of a marching band and under the watchful gaze of thousands of tourists, we were ushered into the palace.

We were then escorted to the balcony room (THE balcony – where that very famous Royal wedding kiss took place in 1981).

It was a very intimate affair, only about 20-30 people. Palace staff bought us gin and tonics and we took in the sumptuous surrounding and history that surrounded us. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex arrived and walked around the room chatting. We discussed the recent YouTube Channel we have created for DofE and he explained what a fight he had getting ‘this place’  onto YouTube! He was a funny, down to earth and charming man.

After lunch (yes, the food was amazing), we all chatted some more, Prince Edward talked about the digital future of DofE and thanked us all for our hard work on their website and the eDofE. We had coffee and he said his goodbyes and left us to enjoy and explore the surroundings, portraits and antiques that line the main corridor .

It was a unique experience, and one that Matt and I will remember for a long time. Huge thanks to the DofE team for inviting us.

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”.

Feb 26 2009

Back to School

We have worked with Welsh schoolchildren to create a game, allowing pupils to create their ‘perfect school councillor’.

The game was designed an built by our illustration and Flash teams, based on sketches and ideas from pupils at Ysgol Niwbwrch, Anglesey, after the Schools Councils Wales ran a competition to win prizes of up to £1000 for their school.

The youngsters’ ideas were amazing – and the presentation of their game was first class. We have heard that they are very happy with the end results. Tough customers indeed!

Feb 23 2009

Holidays Unpackaged

S8080 recently launched the Holidays Unpackaged website for Visit Wales. The site is the destination for traffic sent via the TV commercial and DM, fronted by the brilliant Welsh comedian, Rhod Gilbert.


The campaign, which broke in mid January, was created by Wieden + Kennedy and Partners Andrews Aldridge and features the TVC and four ‘web films’, produced especially for online delivery.

“The campaign focuses on a key step change in the way people approach their holidays these days. Visit Wales believes that people want a much richer experience – they want to immerse themselves in local culture and the environment, they want to get involved and learn new skills.”

” Gone are the days where a holiday is about being a spectator or where your 5 star hotel is the same the world over. Wales believes that they embody and offer this seismic shift in what people want out of holidays. The integrated campaign is designed to create debate and start a new holiday movement, which Wales have coined ‘holidays unpackaged’ “.

The website was designed around the four films – Food, Made in Wales, Learn and do and Active – each having its own section in the site and providing links to relevant TV programmes, blogs, articles and events.

S8080’s Technical Director, Matt Howard said the hosting had to be considered very carefully.

“We looked at lots of specialist video streaming partners, but one, Astream, came out head and shoulders above the rest, giving us the confidence we needed to deliver the massive bandwidth”.

S8080 Creative Director, Chris Cowell said

“We have masses of experience working with the Wales brand and are continually working with the Visit Wales digital team, pushing the envelope on what can be achieved online”.

The IA, creative, implementation and technical teams at S8080 were tasked with the website information architecture, design and build and the construction of the email executions. Many creative treatments were considered, but a subtle hand drawn style was easily the best fit.

“We experimented with hand drawn illustrations and type – these add to the informal and friendly nature of the site. It was fun for our illustrators to loosen up a little as they are usually working on much tighter projects”, said Chris.


We’ll let the website have the last word…

Talking. Learning. Doing. All at your own pace.
No tick boxes, no itineraries.
Just you, and everything Wales has to offer.
Wind. Caution. Throw.


Oct 16 2008

We Won!

S8080’s Wales 1000 Things website picked up an award at the recent CIM Wales Marketing Awards, Canmol (Welsh for ‘praise’).

The best of Welsh marketing was celebrated at the awards dinner with 60 entries being whittled down to five winners. We are obviously chuffed to bits and so is the 1000 Things team.

Sep 1 2008

Praise from Detective Chief Superintendent

Chris Corcoran, Detective Chief Superintendent of North Wales police and Chair of e-Crime Wales recently commented on the S8080 designed e-Crime website in his welcome speech at the e-Crime Wales Summit, 2008.

Mr Corcoran said

“It’s having 1000’s of hits and we are having extremely positive feedback about how user-friendly it is”.

S8080’s extensive Information Architecture and Usability expertise came into play well before their designers even started thinking about how the site would look.

“Usability is No.1 priority for us and our clients – without it, any investment in a website is a complete waste of time and money” said Matt Howard, S8080’s Technical Director.

“We were delighted when Chris Corcoran said the website was a ‘fabulous, easy to use, user friendly website’. A lot of work went into making it that way!” said Matt.

You can see Mr Corcoran’s speech at the e-Crime Wales website.

Jul 9 2008

New Implementation Team

As demand for the latest version of our .NET Content Management System picks up, we have recruited for a brand new Implementation Team.

Leading the team will be our own Jon Jones and the two new boys, James Pugh and John Jones (yes, it’s pretty confusing for us too!) will be working on the CSS template development and integration.

Matt Howard, S8080 Technical Director said

“We were absolutely delighted when Jon accepted the challenge of managing the new team. Over the years, he has helped us streamline the process of slotting the look and feel into the CMS and our web applications. With his new team behind him, these guys are really going to take what can be done with CSS to the next level”

The latest version of our .NET based CMS has just been rolled out into the brand new Bryn Halliwell of Visit Wales who runs the website said “On first seeing the feature list for the new S8080 CMS, I was honestly surprised how similar it was to my own CMS feature wish list”.

“Any features I had thought of or seen in use on other systems were included.”

“From the straight forward [Social network integration, user friendly URLs and inbuilt site content searching] to the more advanced. [advanced Google map integration, multi template e-broadcasts, bespoke blog engine with comment and ratings functions and news and events feeds with tag cloud and auto archiving functionality.] All were covered”.

Jul 9 2008

Information Architecture demand grows

S8080 are well known for our comprehensive and thorough Information Architecture (IA) and Usability consultancy. We have built and refined our unique and scalable process over a number of years and now we are expanding our team.

We are happy to welcome recent graduate, James Frost to the IA team. James will be helping to hone the process further and will be charged with developing a new IA product aimed squarely at smaller organisations.

“Enabling SME’s to take advantage of our expertise has been an aim of ours for a while now. We have developed a User Testing service aimed at smaller businesses and organisations allowing them to really understand what is wrong with their old site before they invest in a brand new one” said Matt Howard, our Technical Director and Usability Expert. “Now we are working on refining and improving our high end IA consultancy, and at the same time, developing a cut down version that will pretty much guarantee that a website will be successful. It’s a bold claim, but it works”

Apr 14 2008

It’s that time of year…

Every year it’s the same. Due to our public sector clients, March is an incredibly busy, challenging and fun month at S8080. The office lights don’t get switched off until late into the night. Our project managers are first in, last out, the creative and technical teams are polishing site launches at ungodly hours and Matt and I have quite a few more grey hairs than we did in February.

It’s now mid April and everything went very well, lots of big sites got launched on time and in budget… lots of happy clients.

But things don’t seem to have calmed down very much. We are getting several quality RFP’s arriving every week and as the news of our latest CMS version spreads, our existing clients are jumping on the upgrades. Looks like another successful year for us, so we’ll be adding to our team very soon.

April is a great month – a new financial year starts, planning starts, a new set of challenges emerge, days get longer and spring is in the air. And we get to go home at a reasonable time. Happy days!

– Chris

Feb 22 2008

London Underground Win

S8080 are delighted to announce that after a multi agency pitch, they have been chosen to develop several communications projects for London Underground.

The projects involve internal staff communications including digital comm’s, induction packs and newsletters.

S8080 CD, Chris Cowell said

“Another great win for us that just shows how our strong creative team can compete on projects of this calibre. The client project team came to us with a well considered internal comm’s strategy that we were able to develop and turn into some very successful pieces. They are a great team to work with and we are looking forward to producing some great work with them”.

Jan 10 2008

An Exciting Start to 2008

S8080 Technical Director and speedster, Matt Howard

S8080 are delighted to announce that they have been awarded three major contracts for the New Year…

The first is for the Audit Commission’s new website, working closely with usability gurus, Bunnyfoot. The project involves designing and producing accessible templates ready to be incorporated into the Commissions content management system.

Secondly, the team heard the contract for a new Duke of Edinburgh’s Award website was theirs just before Christmas.

“It’s a wonderful, exciting charity with so many facets run by a very passionate team”

said S8080 Creative Director, Chris Cowell. Information architecture has just kicked off with a planned summer launch.

And lastly, S8080 heard that they had been awarded the rebuild of the Mountain Biking Wales website for Visit Wales.

Chris said

“We are thrilled with this win, several members of the S8080 team are very keen riders and we have worked closely with the Visit Wales team for many years developing the MBWales product. They are a great client to work with – they are open to all ideas, but also bring heaps of creativity and experience to the table. The development plans look very exciting”.

S8080’s Technical Director, Matt Howard said

“These wins are great news for S8080, we are going into 2008 with several high profile projects, building on an incredibly successful 2007”.

S8080 have been recruiting to cope with this new work, bolstering the creative and project management teams over the past three months. Matt said

“We have a policy of building the team in readiness for expansion rather than rush around trying to recruit off the back of a couple of wins. This helps us build a stable base of experienced people – it’s much better to have a little spare capacity than to let clients down”.

Apr 27 2007

Launch of Breastfeeding Website for NHS

S8080 have this week launched the national Breastfeeding Awareness website for the NHS.

The website was commissioned through COI Communications, the Government’s centre of excellence for marketing and communications. S8080 have been a COI Digital Media rostered agency for several years and won the contract for the breastfeeding site following the very successful ‘Healthy Start‘ project, again for COI / NHS.

The website gives parents, expectant parents and health professional the most up to date advice on feeding baby naturally. Detailed illustrated information on benefits, technique, positioning and expressing is given, as well as detailed case studies.

S8080 Creative Director, Chris Cowell said

“My wife breastfed both of our sons and the first few days are not easy. Once you leave the sanctuary of the maternity ward, the midwife is not on hand and with so many new things to remember, it’s easy to forget how to attach the baby properly, making for a very painful experience”.

“This website shows step by step instructions, those first days are so important – if you can get through those, it all gets much easier. We wanted to make sure that the latest, up to date advice was quickly available to parents”.

The site information architecture was designed to quickly carry the user to areas important to them.

“If you have a crying hungry baby, you don’t want to spend precious minutes trawling through superfluous information” said Chris.

Take a look at the new site at