As the nation’s leading source of cancer information and support, the national Cancer Council website serves a critical public need.
Cancer Council Australia (CCA) had not updated its website since 2012. As a result, its presentation, content and structure were outdated and in need of a major overhaul. With an ageing CMS, security, stability and ease of maintenance had also become problematic. Simple content uploads could send the CMS into a ‘spinning wheel of death’ meltdown, with changes sometimes taking several days to go live.
Rather than attempting to conduct a ‘bandaid fix’ of the existing site, CCA decided to start afresh, switching platforms and completely rebuilding the site.
As well as being fast, robust and secure, the new site needed to be highly optimised for search, as the bulk of CCA’s website traffic comes via Google from people looking to find information about their cancer journey.
While the project was predominantly driven and implemented in-house, CCA engaged Luminary in an advisory capacity, to guide and support its internal team. Luminary augmented the CCA website team with specialist services around agile consultancy, UX and design, content modelling, front end development, DevOps, QA, Kentico Kontent and Microsoft Azure.
What we did
The initial stage of the project was around platform selection. CCA was looking for a platform that would be able to meet future scalability requirements. It also wanted something that would be easy for its internal team to maintain, and would be able to adapt to future developments in technology. In essence, CCA wanted to lay the foundations for a whole new digital ecosystem for itself and its members.
With a focus on future-proofing and scalability, CCA chose to build the site using headless CMS Kentico Kontent. A headless solution would provide CCA with the scope to expand content beyond the web and leverage new technology as it emerges. It also creates an ideal platform to serve common, national content with local information for states/territories as required.
After having had the experience of being hamstrung by a custom platform with limited support, CCA also wanted the flexibility to choose best-of-breed microservices and not be locked into an all-in-one CMS.
With performance, security and SEO in mind, it was decided to build the project as a statically generated site using Jamstack architecture.
Once the platform selection stage of the project was complete, the focus shifted towards improving the user experience of the site – modernising the look and feel, information architecture (IA), and content.
Improving the user experience
The process of refining the user experience began with a comprehensive content audit. The focus was on consolidating information and eliminating duplication wherever possible, as well as removing any redundant content.
The site’s IA was also reviewed using card sorting and tree testing. This led to the consolidation of information into five core sections: ‘Cancer Information’ and ‘Support and Services’ – targeted towards patients and carers; ‘Get Involved’ – aimed at donors and volunteers; a ‘Health Professionals section’; and About Us. The result was a vastly simplified structure that allows key audiences to quickly find the information they need.
The next step was to reimagine the look and feel of the site. For this, CCA drew heavily on a recent brand refresh, with some guidance from Luminary around translating the designs into the web context.
The new design also incorporates far more imagery, especially incorporating people’s faces to create a better emotional connection with visitors. Elements that betrayed the age of the site have given way to a far cleaner look, bringing content to the fore.
Other UX improvements include more powerful on-site search capabilities (using Algolia) and seamless consistency in the functionality and aesthetics of the site across all devices.
The project resulted in an extremely user-friendly, fast and robust website, built according to agency best practices but with CCA having all the in-house knowledge and expertise to continue to maintain and enhance it on an ongoing basis. It has also achieved CCA's aim of maintaining its performance in search with impressions up almost 55 percent year on year and average rank up 20 percent.
Site performance has increased dramatically, with the use of the Next.js Static Site Generator contributing significantly to super fast page load times. Infrastructure costs have also dropped by 80 percent, and the project was delivered under budget and on time.
The project timeline was maintained even with the site being built in the midst of the Covid-19 national lockdown. CCA’s Head of Digital, Doug Hussey, credits the speed to market in part to the headless approach. “Headless allowed us to work a lot more in tandem, with content, design, development and testing all happening at the same time,” he says. “It helped people in each of the workstreams to be more across the other workstreams.”
The cohesiveness of the CCA and Luminary teams was also a major factor in the successful delivery of the project. “It was not a standard relationship between agency and client,” adds Hussey. “It was very collaborative with guidance and flexibility but with CCA owning the project. The Luminary team came in and shared their learnings and experience and made sure we didn’t go down any rabbit holes. It was exactly the partnership we were looking for.”
We got exactly what we were looking for in this partnership. Luminary was willing to guide us without taking ownership of the project. I have no fear that we can’t maintain, enhance or update things. We used Luminary’s resources to scale up when required and to keep us across industry best practice, but at the end of the day the CCA team really owned the project – that was a big goal and a big win.
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