South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust website design and development

Little Bird’s first contact with South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust came at a time when their existing WordPress website had become out of date since their in-house website developer had left the organisation and there had been no other resource available to manage the keeping the site core and plugins up to date. This had led to security vulnerabilities that need to be patched. The organisation contacted Little Bird for a site Performance and Security Audit.

The resulting audit identified remedial works that were required to keep the site running in the short term. It also formalised what the organisation had already suspected – that this website had been built upon by different parties over several years and as a result had, at best, become difficult for staff to manage content with and at worst an unstable platform to continue further site development from.

The website was also of a very dated looking design and this no longer reflected the organisations new brand identity. The decision was taken to completely redesign and redevelop the site from the ground up. The agency that won the tender worked on building a new WordPress site for several months before it became apparent that they were not able to deliver a fit for purpose website.

I feel we get more bang for our buck with Little Bird as opposed to some larger agency types and for that reason we will use again. We also feel that we can still maintain control of our site should we wish to as the site is not attached to an agency hosting/support ecosystem. I would recommend Little Bird.

G.R, Digital communications and marketing manager – South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

The project challenges

We took on this project with some enthusiasm. We love a challenge and this project offered plenty! The existing website has over ten years’ worth of content that would need to be migrated.

The nature of years of ad hoc development left the site with some sections that felt bolted on, whilst other sections of content weren’t easy to find or search for. It wasn’t very user friendly and a complete overhaul of the structure of the site was required to help build a good user experience.

The site has a content structure that is very deep. Sometimes the parent, child structure goes five levels deep. Even after content review we still needed to be able to create a navigation system that allowed users to access the lower levels of content without them ending up in navigational dead ends.

The project included not just the main Trust website but also needed to support ten “micro sites” – sites that the Trust builds and hosts for its other initiatives from within the main website. This required many different types of content plus custom user roles and capabilities for the site’s many types of editors.

What we did

  • Consultancy
  • Support and maintenance
  • WAI AA accessible
  • Bespoke WordPress theme for styling main site, plus ten micro sites
  • Custom built functionality for WordPress plugin
  • Custom content migrators to bring selected sections of old site content into the new site

How we did it

We conducted an audit of the existing site and recorded all the different types of content that the site was supporting. Then we helped the client identify sections of the website that were no longer required, along with new content and functionality that needed to be added and together we planned a site structure that highlighted important content and made it easier to find.

We followed the Trust’s new branding guidelines to produce a new modern looking site that was accessible, easy to use and on brand.

We designed a navigation system that allows users to “drill down” into content multiple levels deep without losing their way. We created a mobile version of the navigation and desktop version. The desktop navigation system acts like breadcrumbs showing users where they have been and limits their options on where they can go in a linear fashion. This stopped site section navigation from becoming cluttered with too many options for the user to easily view and deal with.

It was important the Service Directory was easy for site users to access – the directory contains information on service locations, availability, referral requirements and contact information – it needed to be easily searchable and sortable to help users find what they need quickly. We used post type to post type linking plus post metadata and custom taxonomies to build content for each Service. A custom search engine and the taxonomies were then used to filter Services within the Directory.

Custom content migrators were built and used wherever possible to bring meta fields from the old site into the new one, in order to save site content editors time when bringing over content from the old site. At the same time the organisation carried out a content audit and old redundant content was identified, removed from the site and archived.

We built ten micro sites using and extended WordPress’ default user role and capabilities to include new bespoke editor roles and permissions so that individual departments could manage their own content within the main site.

We made good use of carefully selected third-party plugins saving considerable development time and adding highly useful functionality.

Our collaborative and inclusive team working ensured good communication throughout the project. We had regular contact with the client during the build phase of the project, building good working relationships, which enabled collaboration between the client, the front-end design and the back-end development teams from the initial consultation stage to project delivery.

The results

It’s always frustrating to hear of people being let down by non-delivered projects, so we were very happy to be able to turn this project around and deliver a high-quality website, on budget, meeting all expectations, and within the client’s timescales.

Our expectation was that the client would receive a stable, secure, performant and usable website and we are confident that we have delivered that. Considering the large number of content types that needed to be incorporated into this project we feel we’ve achieved this very well. We’ve created an organised, modular codebase for easier ongoing maintenance. The site is now easier to extend and scale and provides a strong base for future development, which should extend the working life of this website.

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