At the forefront of biomedical research, the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) stands as a unique partnership between Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University. With an unwavering focus on translating laboratory-based research into tangible benefits for patients, the public, and the healthcare system, the BRC embarked on a journey to overhaul its outdated website.
The existing website suffered from poor user experience (UX) and mobile issues, necessitating a complete redesign. The project’s long-term vision involved the creation of a bespoke WordPress theme to enhance its online presence. Given our track record of delivering digital solutions for Newcastle University and our successful work with NIHR SPHR, we were invited to tender for this critical project.
Our mission was clear: to plan, design, build the new website. We commenced by analysing the previous website’s performance and gathered insights through Google Analytics. Collaboration with the University team was instrumental in devising a UX strategy aligned with their outlined key performance indicators (KPIs). Furthermore, we played an advisory role, leveraging our extensive experience in academic website development.
The project’s KPIs encompassed several crucial aspects:
- Improving mobile and UX experiences.
- Boosting user engagement.
- Increasing website traffic through a revamped content strategy.
- Enhancing site architecture.
- Facilitating UX workshops with project stakeholders.
- Elevating the digital profile of the centre.
- Delivering industry-standard, accessible code with a mobile-first perspective.
Our approach comprised three core areas:
1. Research and Planning
- Conducted an in-depth Google Analytics investigation.
- Identified user journey concerns and areas of improvement.
- Compiled a comprehensive sitemap of existing content.
- Developed a contingency plan for SEO changes.
- Aligned KPIs with the University’s content strategy and project goals.
- Facilitated UX workshops with partner organisations to gather valuable insights.
- Outlined project milestones and deliverables to ensure project success.
2. UX Design
Crafted wireframes and prototypes in Figma, integrating user and stakeholder feedback.
3. Frontend and Backend Development
- Executed the development of the frontend and backend.
- Implemented robust security measures and conducted a thorough audit.
- Oversaw website publishing and backup setup.
- Facilitated comprehensive testing and addressed UX-related feedback.
We systematically approached the project by following a seven-step process:
- Conducted UX workshops involving multiple partner stakeholders to gather critical data.
- Undertook technical planning, including CMS systems and hosting logistics.
- Mapped out the website’s journey and structure.
- Created wireframes, encompassing information architecture.
- Developed prototypes and conducted usability testing.
- Executed frontend and backend development.
- Conducted rigorous testing, complemented by UX reporting.
Our meticulously executed plan resulted in a successful transformation of the NIHR Newcastle BRC website. The project unfolded through fortnightly sprint meetings and weekly management team calls, ensuring alignment with our objectives.
We initiated the project with a comprehensive UX workshop, leveraging Google Analytics to map user personas and goals. The development build underwent scrutiny through a security audit, followed by discussions on hosting options, disaster recovery, and ongoing support.
With a focus on structuring and organising content within technological constraints, we employed UX wireframing and Figma to chart the user journey. Icons, images, and colour schemes were carefully selected to optimise user experience, aligning with WordPress development standards.
Post-launch, we continued to gather data from analytic reports, assessing KPIs, and collecting user feedback for phase 2 enhancements. The revamped website now effectively communicates with diverse user groups, signposting the unit’s mission and significantly increasing engagement. This transformation not only met NIHR guidelines but also delivered a user-centric experience, aligning with the BRC’s goals and objectives.