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Transforming the website of a charity supporting people with rare medical conditions

How our team of experts helped MPS Society move from a large, unwieldy website to one that’s easy to use, showcases its resources and has improved the charity’s overall messaging.

MPS Society is the only charity in the UK that helps people with certain rare genetic conditions and their families navigate diagnosis, health and social care, and education.  

The charity wanted a bespoke website to take into consideration the needs of each of their external audiences and internal teams.  

For most newly diagnosed people and for those further along their health journey, the website needed to provide resources, access to events and networks, and ways to raise money. For medical professionals, the site also needed to offer valuable information. 

Combining audience research with our charity and comms insight and technical expertise, we set to work finding them the best solution. 

What was our challenge? 

MPS Society was aware that its website had become large and unwieldy where content lacked structure and simplicity. With the charity offering support for more than 27 complex conditions – many of which have similar names – staff and users complained that content was difficult to find and maintain, which resulted in vital advice, information and ways to get involved going unseen.  

In particular, colleagues identified: a need for a stronger fundraising presence as well as easier ways to donate; a simpler way for families to book onto events and advice sessions; and a desire to reach medical professionals with information so they could identify the rare conditions and intervene much earlier in children’s lives. 

With a small comms team, the charity also needed technical advice and guidance on the best website platform, donation portal and booking system, integration with existing platforms and its CRM, and a smooth transition to the new system. 

Overall, the comms team wanted the new website to be easy to use and take the pressure off staff to keep content up-to-date. 

How did we approach the project?  

By bringing together three areas of our expertise, we supported MPS Society by creating a logical project plan; making recommendations about approaches and specifications; and helping the MPS Society team develop new skills.   

Stakeholder engagement and user research  

At every step, we considered how our decisions would impact different users and their experience. We started with surveys, focus groups and one-to-one interviews, with Vic Barlow asking staff, trustees and users to explain health journeys - from first signs to treatment - so we could create similar journeys through the website and give families relevant advice, resources, access to events and networks, and a chance to fundraise too. 

Using insight and mapping need 

Building on this insight and bringing his extensive experience of designing and integrating websites, Duncan Roberston, mapped the current content and functionality to help us see what was already working and where there were gaps or issues. Looking at website data and analytics helped us understand where users were coming in, spending their time, taking action, and at what point they were leaving.   

We shared our knowledge about how other charities are using their websites to reach different goals, with Becky Slack contributing her experiences of online fundraising. 

Choosing the right systems 

With so many tech options on the market, MPS Society needed help choosing a platform that would work best for them. The relationship between functionality, audience needs, data and tech influenced their final decision.  

With digital constantly evolving, we recommended Statamic, a modern flat file CMS that offers a brilliant content editing experience and is quicker to develop and maintain than many antiquated alternatives like Wordpress. This gave the team greater flexibility to adapt and make changes in the future, add integrations, and keep costs low.  

Design, build, test and manage 

We ran a workshop during the visual design process bringing stakeholders together to discuss peer examples and how the new website would tie in with the current brand guidelines. Once the website was built, we undertook rigorous testing, training, and feedback to ensure its functionality and that it met all the charity’s requirements.  

What was the outcome?  

Staff have given great feedback about how the new website better meets their needs, especially how quickly the comms team can now respond to their requests to update content. The comms team in particular say they can confidently update the website without compromising the structure, navigation or layout. Website engagement has increased with 77% new unique visitors and a 53% increase in engagement to one of their annual campaigns. 

Describing how the team worked with Agenda, Helen Crawley, MPS Society head of communications, said:  

“Our previous website showed the many things we do but was jumbled and difficult to navigate. There was no clear plan for where things sit on the site so it was taking our small team way more time and effort than it should to update.  

“Duncan made me feel that no question was too silly, listened and understood our particular needs but also suggested better ways of doing things and challenged what we thought we needed. I was really impressed by Duncan’s step by step planning, and his website knowledge is through the roof. 

“I’m pleased about the ease by which I can now add things to the site without compromising the structure, navigation or layout. We are still tweaking some of the templates as we’re only a few months post-launch, but we’re now much clearer about the layout and what needs to go where so decisions are quicker and easier.” 

One unexpected outcome has been how the process informed MPS Society’s overall messaging — from direct marketing to social media content. By thinking through how to meet each audiences’ needs and simplifying language, the comms team can now be sure everyone feels welcome. 

“We had input from Vic on thinking about the different audiences and how they may use the site, we had insight from Becky about specific needs for a charity and we had technical expertise from Duncan on building the site. This expertise combined meant we could dip in and out of the different things we needed at each stage of the project.”
Helen Crawley, MPS Society, head of communications
“Fun! Easy! Helpful! I mean, fab all around. Agenda are great at what they do. What appealed to our charity is how they help us to learn so we can do these things for ourselves long after the project has finished.”
Helen Crawley, MPS Society, head of communications