Urban Design Group

Reconstruction of dated website for national organisation promoting high quality urban design.

The Client

The Urban Design Group (UDG) is a campaigning organisation with over 1000 members who believe in the importance of urban design. For many years, the organisation relied upon a relatively static, and somewhat dated, website to encourage visitors to become members, and to let existing members know about forthcoming events and news.

The Brief

The UDG established the need for a new website, leading a new image for the organisation, and allowing it to be seemingly more active in its digital environment. A steering group was set up to lead the development of the new website.

There were a number of requirements for the new site. In addition to the standard static pages, the site had to display information relating to the Urban Design Journal, a printed publication produced by the organisation each quarter. The website was to host back issues of the publication, for reference by its members.

The site had also to incorporate a directory of practices who are part of the organisation as corporate members. Each practice should have its own directory page, giving contact details and basic information to prospective clients. These organisations should also have the opportunity to post job listings to the website, which could be viewed by members of the public visiting the website.

UDG related events would need to be posted to the website, providing members with a regularly updated noticeboard of future events.

Finally, the new site would create a section dedicated to the ‘Urban Update’. This section would feature think-pieces and relevant news articles to stimulate discussion amongst members.

Our Approach

The design process began with a review of well designed sites within the same industrial sector. The steering group identified a number of websites that were considered to be a good source of inspiration. At the same time, a content structure for the site was developed; setting out the information architecture to be deployed.

From these design and content prompts, we developed a series of wireframes and subsequently interactive design option mockups. A preferred option was soon established,which was carried forward.

In order to build a site of this scale, we required the use of a content management system, customised to suit our specific requirements. A custom theme was developed, and a layout heavily reliant on a grid pattern.

A significant amount of content was then uploaded; around one thousand pages in total.

Before handing over the site, we gave a short introductory presentation to a selection of UDG members. Full instruction was given to the UDG staff on how to maintain and update the site in order to ensure its ongoing success.

The Results

The website has been very well received by the project steering group, as well as the organisation’s members. The new platform allows for a far greater degree of independence and flexibility, allowing the organisation to respond more readily to shifts in governmental policy and breaking news.
The website has become a source of valuable information for media agencies looking for urban design information, and the hope is that the UDG will continue to strengthen its role as the single most important organisation in the UK dedicated to promoting urban design.

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