Securing Food, Forever

This is the kind of client that everyone at Liquid Light loves to work with. A large, global organisation, with an ambitious mission to solve one of the world’s biggest problems. In this case safeguarding seed diversity so that agriculture can be adapted to the climate crisis. Simply put, without the work of the Crop Trust, future generations may not have enough food.

The challenge

Crop Trust already had a visually vibrant website, but over time it no longer fitted with their brand identity. For example, a major part of how Crop Trust works is through an endowment fund, a mechanism that invests money in financial instruments to generate returns to be used to support their activities. As such their persona needed to be more grown up, more in-keeping with a financial institute where people would invest rather than donate. 

The previous site utilised animated transitions and graphical elements to impress the user. However, through our research we found that repeat users were struggling with how this affected their journey through the website, which felt cumbersome due to reloading the animations. Clearly a balance needed to be struck between making this a dynamic experience and one that enabled people to quickly get to the information they needed.

Our other challenge was the sheer amount of content that had been created piecemeal over time. Something not unusual for a growing organisation such as this.

Setting the focus

By far the most popular page on the website was a page about the Svalbard seed vault, and quite rightly so. This is an exciting project where millions of seed varieties are being stored in a giant underground labyrinth built into the side of a mountain. It’s a flag-ship project, generating many inbound links and featuring in websites such as The New York Times and The Guardian. However, the way this was represented on the site diminished the visibility of other equally important but less eye-catching projects. It was also a missed opportunity to lead visitors through to learn more about what else the Crop Trust does. We needed to address this as part of our work on information architecture. We needed to inter-link projects with relevant content to engage the user into diving deeper and learning more. 

A family of websites

Over time the Crop Trust’s digital estate had become unwieldy, with separate websites for reports, campaigns and projects. The consequence of this was twofold. 

Firstly, with so many different sites with interrelated content, it was difficult to know where content should exist. This gave the communications team issues around duplicated content and making sure that content was up to date in different places.

Secondly, each website needed its own content management system (CMS). With so many websites, it had become difficult to keep the CMS on each of them up to date when various security patches and updates became available. 

To help with this, Liquid Light took a single platform approach. There are still mini-sites with different pages and navigation, but they all share a similar look and feel and structure, as well as being part of the same CMS install. Now an editor can make changes across different websites in one place. And, any CMS updates or feature improvements can be shared across all of them, saving time and budget. 

With so many decisions throughout the project being based on it, it was paramount that we defined and set a focus on who the website ultimately is for. We knew that donors would be visiting the website to understand the impacts of their funding and that scientists need to deep dive on some of the data. Although these groups are still catered for and important, it was decided that the main focus of the site should be on engaging with the general public. After all it’s the general public who are able to demand change and action en-masse. ‘General Public’ as a user group is always a dangerous concept as that could mean so many things. But in this case a generalised approach made sense with the tangible effects of climate change generating highly charged passion amongst large amounts of people.

Looking to the future

The work that the communications team do to promote Crop Trust and disseminate information is essential for how Crop Trust functions. So to be able to help in any way with this is something Liquid Light are proud of. 

The new website gives the Crop Trust team the tools they need to carry on this work into the future. 

Through our planning process we’ve designed content that clearly communicates their mission, demonstrating their considerable impact and engages their audience. We’ve designed a look and feel that is visually exciting, while in-keeping with their mature and grown up persona. We’ve deployed a content management system that empowers the team to quickly respond to new topics and information. And we’ve built a technically savvy website that loads loads quickly, is responsive to different devices, is accessible for people who need it and adaptable for future change.

“The Liquid Light team are an absolute pleasure to work with, all of whom delivered exceptional service in a friendly, solution-orientated, creative and highly professional manner. The team guided us through some quite challenging projects and having them on board to support us as we refreshed our branding and developed our new visual identity was fantastic. The results exceeded all expectations and we are delighted to continue working with the team next year. We are very glad we found you Liquid Light!

Hannah Bisset - Head, Communications