The North Essex Economic Board is a partnership of councils from mid and north Essex. The partnership was formed in 2019, to combine their resources and support a variety of business initiatives, working together as a catalyst to drive forward economic growth. Each has committed funding specifically to support local businesses with advice, guidance and training as well as skills programmes to provide opportunities to local residents and help them into work.
Website project requirements
The North Essex Economic Board (NEEB) needed to develop a powerful and engaging modern website specifically for the partnership and highlight the support available to people in the area. This website would need to incorporate the brand identity and act as a flagship for the partnership programme.
The NEEB team required the website to be easy to navigate and accessible – it was essential that it met Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 AA accessibility standards. They also needed the website to be easy to edit for people with little or no technical background and be fully responsive across all devices.
Building the public sector website
We first set up an initial scoping call to understand the priorities and direction of the project and confirm the elements that had been discussed, setting clear timelines around the user engagement and the roadmap for the project.
Following this, we ran a user engagement exercise with young people who had experienced dermatological conditions and would be an example of a typical end-user for the website. This involved interviews with users that covered their experience with the existing website, what information they would hope to find on the website and what was important to them about their overall experience of a new or ideal site.
This design was created to be engaging and ensure information was presented clearly, meeting the needs of the core stakeholders, while also having detailed information for their other target audiences. The client was very happy with the initial design and we were able to move forward with only minor changes.
After building out the design and adding their existing content, we made recommendations for areas where new content would be needed, or content should be changed to represent the audience in mind. We also changed the imagery right across the website to represent a more realistic view of what skin conditions look like as this everyday representation was highlighted as being crucial during the user experience testing.
The North Essex Economic Board put together a tendering bid process, in line with public sector requirements for government-funded bodies. They reviewed proposals from various web design and marketing agencies and selected our team from the applications.
A collaborative process
After winning the tender we met with the NEEB team to discuss initial ideas and present them with concept designs for the website. We found that the consultation process was remarkably smooth, with their team being forward-thinking and bringing a range of clear ideas to the meeting.
We then worked on these ideas and refined a structure for the website, taking a mobile-first approach. From here we developed the designs and site in a way to ensure the solution was easily scalable given the level of investment for the programme and future plans.
Accessibility & sustainability
Once the initial website foundation had been built, we then looked to meet their specific criteria around WCAG accessibility standards, going above and beyond their expectations to achieve a AAA standard. We also host the website on renewable energy, which aligned well with their business, and overall we developed a highly sustainable website code-based solution that provided rapid loading and response times. As a final part of the delivery phase we also provided a six month SEO strategy to help the partnership scale effectively online and generate organic traffic.
When the website was close to launch, we produced clear documentation and training for their team to ensure they were very comfortable navigating, editing and updating the website as required. This included onboarding training for new team members to be able to quickly learn how to use the website effectively.
Results following the launch
The North Essex Economic Board now has a new, innovative and mobile-first website delivered within schedule and budget to be able to promote their work. The website met the goals outlined in the tender and went further, helping them achieve the top level of accessibility requirements and minimise the carbon footprint of the site: it produces less carbon than 95% of websites tested through a digital carbon calculator.
We’re excited about NEEB’s potential to reach a wide range of businesses in the area. It was a fantastic project to work on and we enjoyed using our technical expertise to deliver a website that plays such a big part in supporting other businesses.