A female UNICEF worker with a child

UNICEF Australia

UNICEF Australia aims to deliver long-lasting positive impact for children in Australia and around the world. As a 100 percent donor-funded organisation, its website plays a critical role in enabling it to roll out its programs.

Unicef appeals

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The challenge

As the world's largest organisation working to protect children, UNICEF is one of the most universally recognised charities. With operations spanning more than 190 countries, it is the world’s largest provider of vaccines, and provides a wide range of programs supporting child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, education, HIV prevention and treatment, and protection of children and adolescents from violence and exploitation.

UNICEF’s mission is to help children survive, thrive and fulfil their potential, from early childhood through to adolescence. 

The organisation’s digital assets play an important role in achieving this mission – especially as donor activity shifts increasingly online. 

For UNICEF Australia, there is an added challenge in carving out its own identity and raising awareness of the activities it undertakes domestically. With an ageing website that was doing little to establish its uniquely Australian positioning, UNICEF Australia approached Luminary to help redevelop its site.

Among the objectives of the rebuild were: to streamline content publishing – especially crisis appeal pages, to optimise the donor flow, to attract new staff and volunteers, and to craft experiences that would facilitate a better connection with the organisation’s key audiences.

Luminary undertook the project as an end-to-end engagement, from discovery through to implementation and continuous improvement. (Read about our ‘Explore Build Grow’ framework for more on Luminary’s holistic approach to digital development.)

Unicef appeal page

Laying the foundations

Our philosophy is that the best outcomes are always underpinned by a thorough understanding of the problems to be solved. For this reason, the engagement commenced with a comprehensive discovery process. 

The discovery phase began with internal stakeholder consultations to gain a high-level understanding of the challenges and objectives of the organisation. From here, we moved into analysing the available data, including: Analytics Review, Brand and Heuristic Reviews, and Competitor and Comparator Reviews. Following these reviews, the discovery moved into user interviews, where we recruited a range of representatives from the audiences we identified in the earlier stage of the process, including teachers, parents, students, philanthropists, jobseekers and volunteers. The insights gleaned from these interviews informed user flows and process maps outlining what each audience was trying to achieve on the site.

The next stage was to take a deep dive into the site’s Information Architecture (IA), with a workshop involving representatives from the primary audiences. During this workshop, four groups sorted 100 pages into four sitemaps, which we then distilled into a single draft sitemap. The resulting IA features – among other things – a simplified navigation structure and a tool that allows users to self-select their audience category to tailor their user journey.

The final stage of discovery focused on technology, with a review of UNICEF Australia’s technology requirements and a recommendation on CMS selection.

The findings of the discovery process helped to define the direction of the resulting site, with key takeaways including a greater emphasis on storytelling based on individuals, as well highlighting the impact of donations. There were also valuable insights into how best to connect with youth audiences. 

Unicef mega menu

Designing for greater impact

The technical discovery resulted in the decision to build the site on Kontent.ai, a headless CMS that would enable UNICEF Australia to take advantage of a best-of-breed microservices architecture approach.  

The site was in need of complete modernisation, from both an aesthetic and functional point of view. One of the main challenges with the old site was that it was difficult to update, with only a small number of people in the organisation having the knowledge to create new pages. To take the pressure off its digital team, UNICEF Australia wanted to move towards a more distributed editing system. Kontent.ai allowed this to happen through the utilisation of a suite of reusable components.

From a usability, design and development perspective, the new donation flow was an area of particular focus. The outcome was an integrated conversion funnel that gives users more ways to donate and raise funds.

Accessibility was also a key area of focus. During the discovery phase, we learnt that the global UNICEF brand colour scheme was not fully compliant with the latest accessibility standards. Poor contrast ratios throughout the existing site meant that much of it was not highly accessible. To bring the site up to AA accessibility compliance without compromising on global brand guidelines, Luminary worked with UNICEF Australia’s marketing and brand teams to create a ‘high contrast mode’, which allows the user to view the site in a more accessible way. 

One of the aims of the project was to address the existing site’s lack of Australian personality. Luminary worked with UNICEF Australia to create Australian centric copy and use images of Australian employees and volunteers working with Australian people.

High contrast mode

The result

The new site has delivered substantial improvements in conversion rate, SEO performance and overall site health. In the first two months following the launch, the site’s conversion rate was up by an impressive 79% compared with an average over the same period for the previous three years. The site’s SEO score in Lighthouse is now at 92%, up from 79%. There has also been a 99% reduction in site errors and a 37% improvement in site health. In addition, the site’s accessibility score has gone from 83 to 87% – this is before even taking the high contrast mode into consideration (Lighthouse scores only measure the site’s default settings).

According to UNICEF Australia’s Head of Performance, Insights and Growth, Jonathan Nolan, the new site provides a far more seamless experience for users, with the discovery underpinning a whole new design and IA. “The intensive discovery process helped us to better understand and address our audiences’ needs, including what support was needed, best practices, and what our competitors were doing. 

“Before, we had inconsistent design and it was hard for people to find certain things. Cardsorting [in the discovery phase] ensured we were designing for a much more consistent experience and people could find what they needed much more easily.” 

The new site also caters to a wider range of audiences, thanks to insights gleaned from discovery. Rather than just focusing on financial supporters, the new site much more effectively engages non-financial audiences, including parents, teachers, students, prospective volunteers and job applicants.

From an internal perspective, the site is much easier to maintain, giving the UNICEF Australia team access to tools that can help them better shape experiences for the different audiences. “The CMS is top class,” says Nolan. “We went on a journey of getting reviews and references from brands that were already using the respective platforms. We now have new e-commerce and personalisation tools that keep us up to date with technology standards, which in turn helps us be more responsive.”

Unicef - personalisation
We were very impressed with the capabilities of Luminary. The standout for me was around the thinking on the discovery and the development of the design strategy and design systems. Josh [UX Director] and Thom [Design Director] are really great talents to work with. Their experience was super valuable and we were very impressed by how they navigated working with our internal stakeholders and end users to shape the direction of the design system and IA.
- Abhishek Singh, CIO, UNICEF Australia

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