An image of web pages on an ipad and a mobile phone

ActionAid International

Founded in 1972 ActionAid is a global justice federation working for a world free from poverty and oppression. ActionAid's particular focus on women's rights run through all of its work: from grassroots programmes delivered in partnership with civil society, social movements and people living in poverty; to emergency relief and campaigning.

Working with ActionAid's international secretariat in London, we overhauled their legacy Drupal website – including migration from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8 – and, working with project partners Contentious and Big Fan, delivered content strategy development and a mobile-first redesign.
    An image of the home page
    The home page

    The challenge

    ActionAid has an international secretariat in London and about 40 country offices around the world. Although some of those larger country offices have their own independent websites, as many as 30 do not so ActionAid International provides a website-as-a-service to those affiliates. The legacy site was built on Drupal 6, maintaining all content and users in a single site while presenting them as separate sites using the powerful Organic Groups module. While this was clearly fit for purpose at the time of development, it posed many challenges to scaling, duplicated content and decentralised administration.

    The content of the legacy site had grown organically and was of wildly varying quality, due mainly to the absence of an overall content strategy. Additionally, the typeface and the visual design was dated and no longer serving the digital strategy.

    The approach

    Improving the content strategy and quality was a core objective for ActionAid so the project started by taking the time needed to confirm priority audiences and develop core principles in content and communications strategy.

    At the same time, the existing brand guidelines were reviewed and re-interpreted into a modern digital context. Following an extensive consultation and discovery phase we settled on a new primary typeface and a design that speaks to the primary target audiences.

    Upgrading a legacy site from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8 provided the opportunity to re-architect the approach to delivering multiple similar sites, with a separate installation for each country site and greater autonomy for each country office. 

    The donation page
    The Actionaid donations page

    Under the hood

    Advances in configuration management in Drupal 8 allowed us to share configuration across multiple sites while allowing each site to override and customise configuration within predefined limits. This means each country site can benefit from features, functionality and security developments on the International site while maintaining the autonomy they require in content and user management.

    When publishing links to country sites or calls to action such as donations or petitions, it is useful to be able to guide the user to the appropriate site or page. A user in Nigeria should be guided to the donation form on the ActionAid Nigeria site rather than the International site. Javascript libraries to detect IP and inject appropriate content allow content managers to specify which links and content should be presented in which geographical region.

    Even with advances in broadband, the speed at which a page loads has never been more important. Many people access content over their mobile phone with poor or intermittent connectivity and a significant proportion of the target audience for the ActionAid sites might be out in the field with variable connectivity. Using the latest tools to analyse page load speed helped to identify any bottlenecks during development and deliver a site that loads quickly on all devices.

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