In April 2009 Age Concern and Help the Aged merged to form the largest UK charity working for older people. As part of this merger, the 2 charities’ websites had to be merged to provide one uniform portal of information and resources for the public and its staff. With 2 main websites, different branding and different content on each charity’s website, and a further 25 public facing sites to take into consideration, the new website needed a huge amount of careful planning and analysis. Working with design partner Agency (now known as designory), Felinesoft provided all the technical resources and IT consultancy.
Aside from providing an effective information portal for all its users, what AgeUK needed most was a website which had usability and interactive design at its heart. To this end, Felinesoft worked with Agency to provide a website which was not just accessible but had assistive design features to enhance the user experience.
The brief from AgeUK was for the website to have a persuasion-centred design and the website content should be customisable for their users. In short, it should be highly intuitive and usable, and the interface should be simple, with few options. The accessibility of the design was a key factor, with W3C compliancy, larger text and contrasting colour display options being vital components. As the industry leader, AgeUK wanted to go a step further with its new website and have innovative assistive design features to allow for both cognitive and functional differences. Examples of these assistive design features included using scrolling icons, the use of single mouse clicks to access information and the sparing use of pull down and cascading menus.
As part of the Information Architecture phase, we produced a prototype in Flash and HTML so that we could track how people used the existing websites and then factor that feedback into the site design. As dot.net specialists, we created the core framework based on Episerver to form a scalable, flexible and robust solution base to build on. Our solution using Episerver as the base for the website would enforce a module-based approach to the solution through the use of web parts and would allow the project to be rapidly scaled where required.
The Episerver website solution has provided a mainstream, scalable website solution for Age UK which can be managed easily by its own workforce. With a Microsoft-based central database and Content Management System (CMS), the website architecture can be easily maintained or extended in future by any Microsoft certified professional- an important consideration for any organisation which doesn’t want to be tied into limited supplier solutions. The new AgeUK website is fresh and easy to use, making it extremely accessible to all of its users, and the positive user feedback for the new website is testament to the careful design and planning that went into it.