If you’re familiar with our content, you’ve probably noticed that our case studies follow a templated structure: Issue, Insight and Outcome. We’ve taken this approach to make them quick and easy to produce – like a delicious three-ingredient meal. (Spoiler: three-ingredient meals are pretty average and we still find it ridiculously challenging to get case studies out the door with any regularity.)
This is not one of those case studies.
Firstly, our standard template (the client had this problem, we solved it using these smarts and then we all lived happily ever after) didn’t really match the process on this project, as the relationship between issues, insights and outcomes looked more like our Hatchd scribbles than anything remotely linear. And secondly, this was a big project for us (in many ways), so we wanted to tell the story with a bit more panache.
The Strategy (Where It All Began)
It all started nearly 18 months ago (yes, we’re talking walrus-level gestation here). After winning the MRA digital account in a competitive pitch, we dove headfirst into developing a digital strategy that would help the organisation realise its vision, deliver on the varied needs of multiple user groups, while meeting specified technical requirements.
To get the lay of the land, we reviewed the competitive landscape, listened to user feedback provided indirectly through social media and directly through workshops, interviews, surveys and enquiry logs and reviewed their systems, sites and incumbent technology stack. We uncovered thousands of business, user and technology insights and painstakingly distilled them into one digital vision and three digital goals. And then, with the goal posts set, we identified five areas for us to focus on – one of which was the MRA website.
Key Considerations & Challenges (All The Things)
Stakeholder engagement for days.
Because of the nature of its business, MRA interacts with a wide variety of people – local government, state government, industry, investors, developers, private business, not to mention the general public. Simply identifying who we needed to involve was a task in itself.
In the end, we engaged some 200 internal, industry and community stakeholders directly through interviews and workshops and gathered feedback from a further 1,500 through web surveys. From the receptive community members (and not-so-receptive ones) to the local residents with a personal interest and developers with a commercial interest, we learned a lot about our users and their needs. Using these insights, we developed 9 different personas whose needs, wants and preferences became a source of truth throughout the project.
Many projects, places, users — one site.
Previously, MRA had maintained a main brand website and separate sites for established places such as Perth Cultural Centre and Barrack Street Jetty. However, in the stakeholder engagement phase, we identified an opportunity to increase community awareness of MRA by cross promoting its places and projects all in one site.
So, in addition to meeting the unique needs of 9 different personas, the website also needed to provide a home for MRA’s 13 projects and places.
One of the main challenges this posed was in developing an IA that could accommodate the individual (and evolving) content requirements of each of the projects from concept through to operation. We also had to find a way to marry the MRA brand with project and place brands in a manner where they – like a good couple – complemented one another.
Our content challenge was to develop a tone that could speak to a diverse group of users about a wide range of topics – maintaining an element of consistency while describing complex planning frameworks through to promoting upcoming events.
Friendly for all.
A key project objective has been to provide a website that’s accessible to as many users as possible – regardless of device, connection speed, location or ability.
Using a mobile-first approach, we built the site foundation using a sound HTML structure, which we continuously monitored to ensure it maintained its structural integrity and kept its “weight” in check. This helped us tick off several WCAG guidelines and ensure that even users with slow connections would be able to access the vibrant content we had in the works. And speaking of vibrant, we also made some adjustments to the brand colour palettes to ensure the contrast was sufficient for users with low vision.
Maintaining accessible content is an ongoing challenge, but we’re working with the MRA team to educate content contributors on the importance of things like image captions, video transcripts, alt text and headings.
The Results (Our Favourite Bits)
Vibrant and functional.
The new website is clean, bright and modern. The tone - honest and lively. It is, in a word, vibrant. And, alongside all the colourful and engaging stuff, it still gets down to business with things like project timelines, public comment and a planning document finder (coming soon!).
Timelines of past, present and future activity.
Integrating project timelines was an important feature uncovered during our stakeholder research as many users expressed an interest in understanding what progress had already been made, what’s happening behind the hoarding at that point in time and what’s yet to come.
Our most flexible CMS ever.
We built the site on Plone, an open source CMS, integrating some pre-release components and enhancements to make it even easier to navigate and use. And to give the MRA team the flexibility they wanted, we developed a suite of 11 modules that can be mixed and matched across three page templates to provide endless options. Literally every page can look different than the last.
The CMS also provides granular control, meaning workflow and permissions can be customised for every user and each piece of content.
All the things to See & Do.
The See & Do section showcases all the things happening in MRA places. Users can filter this by place, type (events, attractions, exhibitions, shopping, etc) and custom date range to find what they’re looking for.
In the next iterations (already well into scoping), we’ll be introducing additional opportunities for engagement, more functional tools and integration with other MRA systems. There’s also more vibrant content about MRA and its projects and places on the way.
And baby, we’re just getting started. You may recall us mentioning that our digital strategy identified five areas of focus? Well, this is just the first. Watch this space.
Interested in working with us?
Whether you have a clearly defined product brief or you're not sure wherein the problem lies, drop us a line for a no-pressure chat about where you are at and how we might help.