Fair Trials is a global NGO that campaigns for a fair and equal criminal justice system. A global criminal watchdog, the organisation has grown from campaigning on behalf of individuals to campaigning internationally for systemic changes to make the criminal justice systems fairer for all.
We were commissioned to design and develop Fair Trials’ new website and evolve its brand to ensure both align with its organisational strategy and reflect Fair Trials as it is today – a modern, campaigning NGO that brings about change and is a go-to for empowering others to make a difference.
With a diverse and international audience picture, ranging from lawyers and prosecutors to global policymakers, human rights organisations, activists, funders, journalists and academics as well as the general public, the Fair Trials’ brand and digital offer needs to work hard together to clearly position Fair Trials as a campaigning NGO, through delivering a strong digital and brand presence that engages all audiences with its organisational purpose and the impact its work is having – encouraging all audiences to get involved.
In-depth immersion in the organisation and a series of brand and digital sessions helped us to shape the brief and provide the insight needed to direct the project.
With the brand being well-established and well-known among audiences, there was no desire to fully re-brand but an audit of existing communications and materials identified a need for greater impact and clearer definition.
We delivered a brand that is modern and cohesive, positions Fair Trials as experts in its field and gives it the tools to produce collateral and communications with clarity and impact. The logo has been retained, but new typefaces have been defined, and a broader, refreshed colour palette and clean style of design application brought in across a range of collateral and the design of the new website.
Working on the brand’s evolution in the context of the website project allowed for a digital-first approach, meaning natural priority was given to how the brand needs to work in the digital space during the process. It allowed for the fullest brand thinking to be taken into the information architecture and design of the digital experience the new website delivers to users.
With the brand able to work hard to articulate the value of Fair Trials and reflect its campaigning nature, we could develop a clear online value proposition for the website as the go-to for audiences to find and access information and resources to help themselves and others to make a difference.
Central to that offer is a powerful resource hub which lies at the heart of the website experience – a single location for users to explore all of Fair Trials’ rich content.
Our start point for planning the information architecture was to make sense of the previous website’s content, to be able to rationalise and streamline top level navigation for the website, to promote user understanding and successful user journeys.
It was overloaded with content, much of it out of date or no longer relevant. All of it had to be re-evaluated and rationalised, to ensure the new site offers relevant and up to date information and enables audiences to more quickly find the things they’re looking for.
With ease of use not only a priority for Fair Trial’s audiences but also for the internal team in working with the site, templates are designed throughout the site to be intuitive and flexible to work with. None more so than the resource hub template, designed to be flexible enough to adapt for any type of resource or information from news and publications, to legal analysis, information, toolkits, films and case studies.
We also developed an on-page navigation, used on templates throughout the site, that auto-generates quick navigation for the page, saving time for the Fair Trials team as well as benefiting the user experience.
Site search on the new website is greatly enhanced – to the extent that search is central to the user’s experience. We identified the need to offer different types of search to cater to users’ behaviours and needs, depending on where they were searching and what type of information they might be looking for. That led us to incorporating three types of search function.
The hub itself users an instant search (React and Algolia Instant Search) combined with intelligent filtering approach, where all results are shown but the user has ability to filter down from there by different categories.
The global search, available to users wherever they are in the site, uses Algolia Autocomplete. When a user begins to type, results start to appear instantly.
And a prominent, on-page search area on the homepage uses a query suggestion index containing the most frequently used searches, guaranteed to provide results. As users begin to type, the site returns suggestions of potential content they may be interested in; and because the query suggestion database is constantly updating, based on most searched and viewed content, it provides highly relevant, successful returns and a modern, behaviour-led experience.
In any project, we will seek out and identify where new or different development approaches can add value to both users and owners of the website.
From email marketing integration with automised audience event and subscriber list creation, to our use of structured data throughout for search engine optimisation, and hosting on an enhanced server for performance and security, the Fair Trials website is a best-practice and bespoke design and build – a website built with leading-edge development practices, that can grow and adapt with Fair Trials as it moves forward as an organisation.
Pam Cowburn Communications Director Fair Trials
We chose Design Culture because they had a thorough understanding of our brand as well as excellent in-house technical expertise. This was demonstrated throughout the project. They really listened and were responsive and realistic about what we could achieve. Our refreshed brand is more accessible and consistent, and we've had lots of positive feedback from staff and external stakeholders on the website – its fantastic design, ease of navigation and overall user experience. I’d expected the process to be stressful but the project ran smoothly and came in on budget, which as an NGO is very important!
Pages per session
Average session duration:
increase in clicks from organic search