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About the client

The Cambridge Commonwealth, European & International Trust provides financial support for international students on degree courses at Cambridge.
The Trust awards approximately 500 scholarships annually, and supports between 1,100 and 1,400 students in residence each year from 85 countries across the world.

Today, the Trust provides the largest number of scholarships for international students at Cambridge, working with partners worldwide to support students of outstanding academic merit under a variety of scholarship schemes.

Background to the project

Cambridge Trust commissioned Studio 24 to conduct a website project, with the objective to provide recommendations on the approach to moving the website onto a new content management system (CMS), and how to improve the site for users. Then to design, build and launch the site.

Defining the scope and budget

We did this by gathering information from the following sources:

  • Stakeholder interviews with the Trust staff
  • Technical review of the existing systems
  • Review of site content
  • Analytics review

The questions we wanted to be able to answer at the end of this discovery phase were:

  • What were the clients objectives for the website?
  • Who is using the site, what motivates them & what do they want to do?
  • What content is needed, how important is it, & understanding the brand.
  • What technical constraints do we needed to consider?

Stakeholder interviews

With the interviewees’ permission, we recorded the sessions with them, and uploaded the videos to Dovetail, a platform that we use for project research. The interviews were transcribed, and then key points were extracted. Themes were identified which were then prioritised, based on the positive impact that the change would bring to the organisation and the users (both internal and external).

These were grouped into the following 3 categories:

  1. Interesting.
  2. Significant.
  3. Critical – (Must do’s)

Discovery findings and defining scope

The discovery findings enabled us to prioritise and plan the project with the client.

The critical findings from the stakeholder interviews became our priority: collectively we agreed that by fixing these, we would vastly improve the online presence for the business and its users.

  • Migration to a new CMS.
  • Show the positive impact of the work Cambridge Trust does.
  • Make it easier to find content.
  • Improve the scholarship listing and details.
  • Reduce the number of email enquiries.
  • Simplify writing to better communicate complex information.
  • Provide applicants with a better understanding of the process.
  • Make it easier for content creators to create, edit and maintain the site.

Migrating the CMS

The selection of Craft CMS was informed by the technical research and recommendations from the Studio 24 development team, based on the business needs of Cambridge Trust editors.

Showcasing the positive impact of Cambridge Trust

Cambridge Trust has the ability to change lives, and people who work for the Trust are very proud of this. It was felt that the site should be more dynamic and focused towards the key audiences. The website felt out of touch, both in design and written content.
It was noted that the site didn’t present a true reflection of Cambridge Trust in terms of its achievements, successes and opportunities.

We introduced a prominent ‘Impact stories’ section to the website.
This provided us with the platform to present content from alumni, students, partners and promote the Trusts positive global and local impact.

By strategically highlighting stories to the users during their visit they…

  • Raise awareness of the achievements both to the scholars and the Trust.
  • Provide partners with a clearer insight into the impact they make.
  • Inspire prospective students.
  • Success stories become valuable marketing material.
  • Scholars feel connected and appreciated.

Reduce the number of enquiries via email

The Trust receive a lot of enquiries through conventional means such as phone and email. We needed to look at better ways to triage these on the website. Pages were very text heavy which made it hard to pick out key elements/actions within the page.

Improvements included

  • Improving visibility of forward linking in the user journey.
  • Improve handholding content.
  • Add structure and weighting to how the content is presented.
  • Introduce design patterns that help explain the process to applicants.
  • Suggest copy improvements.

Simplifying language to better communicate complex information

Across all stakeholder interviews it was felt that the language used on the website is too complex, too wordy and not helpful for those whose first language isn’t English. It’s been recognised that the Trust are actively planning for and creating new material on their social media channels.

Users take in information in various ways and we needed to tailor the content to the different audience groups. We needed to consider users whose first language isn’t English, those who may have a disability, those from different ages groups, social backgrounds and geographic locations.

Presenting content:
We created templates with a clear visual hierarchy.
We established primary and secondary content, ensuring that the primary content is surfaced higher up the page.
We introduced better visual weighting to typography, which gave give the client flexibility to convey content in different ways such as quotes, testimonials, frequently asked questions, videos, images and illustration.
These approaches help bring balance to the page, breaking up big sections of content, making it more accessible and readable to the users.


Provide applicants with a better understanding of the process

The application and award process can be complicated to understand.
Applicants are either unsure of the process, and are looking for updates or a quick answer to a question to help educate them about the process.

We looked to

  • Outline/visualise what that process looks – through either simple infographics, timelines or video
  • Improving the way content is presented will give users answers to their questions, which we hope will help reduce the number of enquiries to the Trust (reducing manual work for administration staff)

Improving the Scholarship Listing

Improvements were made to the scholarship listing page.
By moving away from the existing accordion based page approach which was found to confuse users by requiring them to click on a title to see more information.

We designed the listing to show contextual, key information that allowed the user to scan the page and make informed decisions before having to engage with the interface.

We also removed unnecessary secondary or unrelated content and sidebars so the user focuses on the scholarship offerings.  User experience was improved by redesigning  the filter options.

The Studio 24 team have always been a delight to work with! Their client care and technical expertise, coupled with their friendly approach, is both impressive and appreciated.

Claire Lambert, Communications & Alumni Manager, Cambridge Trust