Bringing an environmental and wellbeing industry leader’s resource website up to date.

Introduction

Our collaborative work with Ecosystems Knowledge Network has invigorated their website, turning it into a scalable, thoughtfully designed and highly functional resource for their users – a ‘one-stop-shop’ that enables members to engage with a multitude of opportunities at their fingertips.

Ecosystems Knowledge Network (EKN) is a leading forum created to ensure the natural environments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland support wellbeing and prosperity for everyone. They bring together people across a variety of sectors, from ecology to economics, finance to farming, and health to housing. The charity provides unique opportunities to learn from practical examples and innovative ideas for financiers and investors, non-environmental professionals such as architects and planners, and public bodies, including Defra and local councils.

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The Problem

Their previous website was outdated, not only in terms of the design’s appearance, but its functionality. The information architecture was no longer working: it was very rigid in its page structure and provided no room for scalability. Over time, as content was added to it in a counterintuitive way, the website became bloated and overly wordy.

In administration terms, the website had no centralised way of managing data within it. The membership data was held separately from the website, as was the events functionality, which made working with it very fragmented. Another issue was that the site didn’t foster the sense of community they wanted to provide to their membership.

“We engaged The Idea Bureau to build a new website that would serve our mission of harnessing all the environment can do for everyone’s wellbeing and prosperity. The team at The Idea Bureau were responsive to our needs and keen to please.”

Dr. Bruce Howard

Director

Our Solution

As they currently have no direct competitors, EKN is unrivalled in its capabilities; however, the website didn’t reflect this at all. They wanted the site to be a ‘one stop shop,’ with resources for their members, as well as signposting content, case studies, networking opportunities, training and self-guided learning, and much more.

They approached us to design a website that would scale and grow with them as the team evolves and their mission changes. This meant we’d need to create reusable components that could be used in unlimited ways to create new pages post launch. Another key goal was to be able to add new content and pages without the need for a technical team.

Build on the existing EKN brand and promote them as “THE” knowledge sharing hub for professionals working towards wellbeing and prosperity for everyone through a healthy natural environment.

Client:
Ecosystems Knowledge Network
Project Type:
Website Redesign
Link:
ecosystemsknowledge.net
Tags:
Charity, Not-for-profit, Third Sector

How the website works

The EKN team were used to a very rigid website that didn’t provide them with much control or creativity. We worked with them via remote discovery workshops to ascertain their requirements and ensure we were immersed in their working processes. Following an audit of their website, we came up with a design that restructured it, updating the sitemap to reflect the new layout and functionality. Our expertise with WordPress, Gutenberg, and Advanced Custom Fields allowed us to create a block-based content management system (CMS) that provides the team with maximum flexibility in managing their content, both now and in the future.

EKN aren’t complacent on their offering or how they deliver it. We created a clear resources area for them, which includes an ‘Innovation showcase’ map interface for people to discover initiatives that are providing innovative solutions that work towards the charity’s ethos. This involved displaying location data for EKN’s projects – to accomplish this, we used a mapping API tool to display colour-coded pins that correspond to the project’s status. Users can then filter the map to customise it to their needs.

Another feature was the ‘Tool Assessor’: a free service that provides information about techniques and tools that highlight the value of the natural environment in society. They had a webinar library, which highlighted EKN’s expertise in good practise: we improved the functionality for this by adding a search filter to assist users in finding the relevant webinars they need.

The new website also enables the EKN team to be able to promote and manage events on their site, something which previously took up a large chunk of their budget, as they relied on costly third party solutions.

  • 50
    uniquely designed blocks that the clients can use within the website design
  • 130+
    pages using these blocks in a variety of combinations

Working together

Early on, we defined our key roles, which meant there was never any ambiguity over the work or expectations from us. Everyone knew what they had to do and when, ensuring a smooth process for all.

Since the website launched, the team has changed quite dramatically. It’s an exciting time, however, as our training offering means that new staff members are onboarded smoothly, allowing them to quickly get to grips with the site.

A lot of time, reassurance and training was required to ensure the team were comfortable using the site and confident in understanding that it would be a powerful tool for them moving forward. This approach empowered them to take control of their own website without requiring constant technical support; we currently work alongside them to assist with creating new features for the site and on retainer.

“We felt like we were dealing with colleagues, not a consultant. Tash and Ben were sensitive to costs, which was particularly important to us as a charity.”

Dr. Bruce Howard

Director

User-centred design

The varying demographics of EKN’s audiences interact with their content in different ways. We created a membership area where users can sign up and receive updates, obtain discounts on events, and save ‘favourite’ content throughout the website to store within their own content area.

This content and website structure needed to use language that non-experts could comprehend, particularly around environmental issues and how they relate to the users. It also had to be built according to the latest accessibility standards.


Donations

As a charity, donations are a vital lifeline for EKN. Because of this, we knew a highly important website requirement for them would be to provide a ‘donate’ function to make this process as simple for users as possible. EKN would also need complete control over the donation options, such as offering ‘one time’ and ‘monthly’ payments, depending on users’ preferences.

We employed the GiveWP platform and its associated add-ons (Gift Aid, recurring donations, etc.) to create this feature for them – this approach that meant we could deliver great value to the team with minimal costs, as well as using a proven system that allowed us to customise the design to match EKN’s branding. Payments are also run through Stripe, a highly secure and user-friendly payment gateway.

Conclusion

This project enabled us to build trust with EKN, as our clients, and we’re now seen as an extension of their team. We continue to have an ongoing relationship where we’re helping them to innovate and push boundaries within their space. It’s also allowed us to continue our steps forward into working more in the climate sector, which is something we’re passionate about.

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