Redesigned, reorganised and a darn sight prettier: IIED’s new website
As you’ve hopefully noticed by now, we have a brand new website. So, what are the key changes and why have we made them?
Helping you get involved in the discussion
The new website aims to help us both showcase IIED’s work and also become more interactive, providing you with an opportunity to engage with our work. This has meant breaking down barriers between the main website and our social media channels. We now have a twitter feed on the homepage and other relevant pages on the site so you can follow what’s being said and join the discussion, and we have social media icons to, for example, Facebook, so you can take part and respond to us that way too. You can also leave a comment on a blog or click on links to our research at the end of blogs and news stories to find out more about what you’ve read.
Less is more
The website now has a cleaner design, with less “visual noise” (in the words of Steve Krug Don’t make me think pg. 38) or fewer visual items clamouring for attention on each page.
Eye-tracking exercises show eyes focus on the high left of the screen and then move rapidly right when scanning web pages. This prime “real estate” was previously occupied by a navigation bar. The solution: we now have one main navigation bar on the site by reorganising content and merging two main navigations into one. A strong visual focus has been created on the homepage and news and blogs page with two multimedia carousels, which will showcase our latest blogs, news stories and other key content.
According to Jakob Nielsen and many other usability thinkers, websites need to fulfil a users’ expectations. If someone comes to the website to find a given piece of information, can they find it easily and clearly? Clear user journeys are critical to ensure that users are not frustrated by the site and simply give up and leave. The key is less the number of clicks rather than making sure users have confidence that they’re on the right track.
Previously finding some content – such as finding out about a specific project – was difficult as the only way to find a project page was through the research groups. If you didn’t know who managed a project, it was hard to find.
Our reorganised site has better signposting. Now, for example, you can search by projects or themes on our work page, or you can search for themes from the homepage – more on this below.
Search by theme
You can now search for all of the content on the website, including blogs, news, projects and other research, by themes. The introduction of this new set of easily understood categories should improve user journeys and help people find what they are looking for more easily.
Much of our content is also tagged (tags are more specific topics than themes, for example, a theme is climate change, while a tag is climate change adaptation). You can search for tags on the website, or you can search for a project or for a research group.
You can also search our publications database by theme as well, just as before.
But it’s not just about layout and design – how the website is built matters too. Here's David Sankar, IIED's web services manager, on the Drupal content management system (Drupal 7), which the site has been built with. "It's an open-source solution developed transparently and by peer collaboration online, and distributed for free. The systems’ benefits include: easy installation, built-in features (forums, blogs, search engine friendly URLs, content categories, search function and more), modules to extend functionality, and a large user and development community to facilitate problem solving.
The system is used by Greenpeace, Oxfam, Amnesty international, Save the Children and many other NGOs and agencies, as well as private sector companies such as Nike, Fedex and Forbes. IIED have been using Drupal for our sites since version 4.7, and our web team have become active members of the ‘Drupal for NGOs’ community.”
Like with all great communications work, the website can’t be built in isolation – it needs to be tested by its audience. And websites are always work in progress. We will be testing out functionality and user journeys through user testing on a regular basis. Given that you are reading this and on our website we’d love to hear from you too! All feedback (both negative and positive) is welcome so that we can improve the site over the next weeks and months to come. Leave a comment on this blog in the comment box below or get in touch, via twitter or Facebook.