Not for Profit, Design, UX, Development
Founded in 1995, Fern are an organisation based in the heart of the EU, dedicated to protecting forests and the rights of people who depend on them. They make decisions by consensus and build campaigns together with social and environmental organisations and movements across the world. Fern identify the threats facing the world’s forests, and work with affected peoples, social and environmental organisations and policy makers to devise and deliver solutions where the EU can make a difference.
Fern approached us because there current Drupal website had never been intended to handle the large amount of content that it grew to have and this was causing them several frustrating issues:
- Poor discoverability of content, especially key resources and documents
- Confusing information architecture that was never intended to hold so much information
- A lack of design flexibility and components making content updates challenging and time consuming
- Low search engine visibility
- Inconsistent visual styles
- Incomplete multilingual functionality
- Ineffective site search further contributing to discoverability challenges
In order to tackle the project we knew early on than Drupal would not offer Fern the enterprise level functionality required to address their frustrations so we opted to migrate their website to TYPO3. As our preferred enterprise level content management system TYPO3 offers a fantastic open source solution with powerful multilingual capabilities, robust content hierarchy and feature rich site search functionality.
Changing CMS introduced a complex but necessary site migration to the project but also served as a great opportunity to undertake a complete content audit which was also essential in helping us plan a new site structure to ensure content was clear, easy to find, and well organised for future growth.
The design phase of this project was kept as lean as possible to ensure budget efficiency. Fern were not unhappy with their visual identity and the general look and feel of their existing website however their were some UX issues that needed to be addressed and the migration and expansion of the site meant that the current design needed to evolve to address these gaps. By rationalising the existing design and applying best practices, we made subtle yet effective changes to evolve the site appearance whilst also ensuring a great user experience and improved accessibility. Starting with a few key pages to refine our approach allowed us to gain client buy in before moving into a more component based approach, creating a suite that could be combined together for endless layout possibilities.
The website is entirely editable using the enterprise level CMS, Typo3. It’s important that Fern can easily update content without the need to keep asking us for help. This is especially true with a website that has ever changing campaigns and priorities and includes such a large collection of news and resources.
A powerful site wide search enable content to be searched and filtered to guide users to their desired content with minimal effort.
Website performance is really important to us. By using clean, semantic and fast loading code, the website is well optimised for search engines and to improve the load times for users. The website currently scores 100 out of 100 on Google’s page speed insight tool Lighthouse which analyses various factors including performance, accessibility, best practices & search engine optimisation.
The finished website is fast, easy to browse, logically organised and easily updatable. Full training has been provided to Fern staff to ensure they can easily keep the site up to date and the extensive component library means that layout options are almost infinite.
The new structure has also had an immediate positive impact on search engine visibility which forms a solid foundation which can continue to be improved over time.
Now a truly multilingual website, new languages can be added over time and existing languages can be expanded easily by the Fern team.
Visually the site is not a dramatic revolution but rather a respectful evolution of Fern’s identity ensuring usability is always the highest priority. The new website provides Fern with a powerful asset that is ready to grow with the organisation and evolve as their priorities shift over time. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Fern and supporting the growth and success of their important work.