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About the client

The Cambridge Commonwealth European and International Trust (Cambridge Trust) is a charity established with the sole purpose of providing support to students to enable them to benefit from the educational and research opportunities offered at the University of Cambridge. The Trust awards approximately 600 scholarships annually, supporting around 1,500 students in residence each year. During its forty-year history, the Trust has helped more than 22,000 students from 149 countries across the world take up their places in Cambridge.

About the project

The Trust’s website didn’t present a true reflection of their achievements, successes, and opportunities. The Trust wanted to improve the website by making it easier for users to find content and providing students with a better understanding of the process of applying for scholarships. They also wanted to celebrate the positive impact of their work.

Project goals

  • Redesign the website with a stronger focus on the positive impact of the charity
  • Improve user journeys to help students apply for scholarships
  • Upgrade the Content Management System (CMS) from Expression Engine to Craft CMS
  • Improve the editing experience for the admin team

Highlights from the redesign

The website design is completely updated, it’s bolder, brighter and designed with accessibility in mind. Four key elements of the redesign work are highlighted below.

1. Understanding priorities

We’ve enjoyed a long relationship with Cambridge Trust, working with them for over 10 years. As the years have passed and the website has aged, it has become increasingly difficult for the client to use and for us to maintain.

It was important to start this project with a discovery phase. We wanted an in-depth understanding of what the priorities were for the site, what needed to change, and how best to do it. This exploration included stakeholder interviews with Cambridge Trust staff and a review of the site content and technology. This phase gave us a clear path forward on what to improve.

Old Cambridge Trust home page
Home page before the redesign

2. Improving user journeys for scholarships

One key area that needed attention was how students apply for scholarships. To address this, we improved the navigation by simplifying and streamlining entry points, adding better signposting, and recommending a tone of voice that speaks to the core user groups. We used a mobile-first responsive design, so students could find the content they need more easily when viewing the site on a mobile device.

Scholarships desktop navigation
Cambridge Trust scholarships page

3. Readable, inclusive content

Studio 24 and Cambridge Trust worked with Sookio to improve the readability and inclusivity of the content, as it was quite dry and academic in places. Sookio’s team simplified the language, with consideration for those whose first language isn’t English, those who may have a disability, and those from different age groups, social backgrounds and geographic locations.

We also did a bit of content housekeeping along the way. Outdated news articles and alumni profiles were archived to make the website lighter and more sustainable.

4. Visually engaging imagery

A refresh in imagery was a big change for the site. Quality images have larger spaces and the pages are less text-heavy, giving users breathing room. It makes the content visually engaging and website visitors can more easily pick out key pieces of information.

It’s one of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on – seeing how much the site has transformed but it still reflects the client and what they stand for.

Claire McDermott
Claire McDermott, Studio 24

Improved experience for content editors

One of the big frustrations for the site administrators was that adding content wasn’t WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). Editing in Expression Engine didn’t resemble the output on the front end. A lot of back and forth was involved in the admin areas to get the results they wanted.

Moving from Expression Engine to Craft CMS was a good evolution as the two CMSs share some of the same features, but Craft is much more user-friendly for site admins, especially those who are not developers. It also allowed us to set up the CMS with all of Cambridge Trust’s requirements, focussing on the new impact stories and the improved user journey for scholar applications.

Claire McDermott provided training for the Cambridge Trust team on how to add content to the new CMS. It was a good reminder for us not to make assumptions about people’s understanding of how websites work. The first question on CMS training day was ‘What is a CMS?’ A fair question! And it’s ‘Content Management System’ just in case you were wondering.

We are delighted to hear that the Cambridge Trust staff find content entry intuitive and easy using Craft CMS.

I really feel that the new CMS has restored power, control and confidence in the Cambridge Trust team.

Jamie Curran
Jamie Curran, Studio 24

Project challenges

The launch of the new website happened later than originally scheduled – but this is partly because there was so much going on in the Trust’s calendar! We were able to be flexible with our scheduling so the website activity could be paused to give the Cambridge Trust team more time for these exciting activities.

The extended schedule worked out to be beneficial, as we were able to plan for big changes to the content – the site had accumulated a lot of content over 10 years!

With large sections of content being rewritten by the Trust and Sookio we couldn’t migrate everything automatically, so a lot of this needed to be added manually. However, we were able to migrate some of the content that we knew wasn’t changing, such as the text relating to the scholarships and partners, which helped to reduce the volume of work for the Cambridge Trust admin team.

It was a large and challenging task to upgrade a website with 10 years of accumulated content and migrate to a new content management system, whilst improving the user experience for both students and partners and making the site more visually engaging. Studio 24 did a great job from the discovery and design phases through to delivery. The team were supportive, flexible and creative throughout, and we are very happy with our new site!

Claire Lambert, Communications Manager, Cambridge Trust

Next steps

Over the coming months, we will review how the new site structure is working, and work with the Cambridge Trust team to check that the different user groups are happy with the changes.

New Cambridge Trust home page
Home page after the redesign, including new impact stories to show what the Trust has achieved