All organisations go through life cycles. We started to support GFirst LEP after it had a brand in place for a number of years, but we felt that it needed to evolve in the way it communicated with people. As the bastion of business in the Gloucestershire region, the organisation should be leading the way through strong messaging, eye-catching marketing collateral and a good website to set the standard, but without losing the core message of what they do along the way.
Many people don’t understand what exactly GFirst LEP do – although the name might be familiar, people don’t always know what impact the LEP has had in the region. A lot of this is down to how they presented themselves in the past, so we undertook the mission to make the organisation more accessible and make it easier for people to find out more.
The old GFirst LEP website was cluttered, and on an old, clunky system that was hard to update. Even staff couldn’t find the information they needed on the existing site, which meant they couldn’t effectively communicate with the public. As LEPs like GFirst get tested by the government on how easy it is for people to use their websites, this wasn’t great news. Our first task was to distil what GFirst LEP does down into a comprehensive, yet simpler site map, and design a site that would comply with all the necessary government regulations.
However, we wanted to make the site dynamic as well, so we introduced interactive templates with integrated videos, and added key information hubs to direct people around the site in a more fluid way. We wrote all the copy for the site on launch, and stripped out all the jargon to make it more public-friendly. We also wanted photography to shine, so we gave them plenty of space for images that would inspire.
We introduced a set of icons for each of GFirst LEP’s business groups that could be used across the site whenever necessary. We also added a search function so that important information could be accessed at any point, and a download library so that vital documents like the board member minutes could be added to each page as necessary.
The most important section of the website is arguably the projects section, which shows what GFirst LEP are working on and what has been completed. As projects can often take years to come to fruition, we made sure it was easy for the team to update these pages with photos, videos and key points, and added a colour-coded category system to identify how projects were funded and what stage they were at.
As GFirst LEP are the true business leaders in Gloucestershire, we ensured that the website would work hard for business, too. We added an events section that businesses could submit their own dates to, building an event calendar for the entire county. A quirky newsletter sign-up form means that businesses are more likely to sign up to receive the monthly GFirst LEP bulletin, and we also worked with all local councils to get photography that would represent every corner of the county, instead of focusing on the big towns.
The look and feel of the website was then used as a basis upon which to update other collateral, including GFirst LEP’s annual review. This document must be released every year by government regulation, but the older style was very cluttered as well, with illustrations and tables filling all the space.
We stripped it right back, using illustrations sparingly, and presented the LEP as more confident and professional, while allowing key points to stand out. We wanted to give the document more of an upmarket feel, so we chose uncoated paper stock for the internal pages and a matt laminate finish for the cover, giving the report more staying power.
We then carried this style onto other documents that are very important to the LEP, such as its recent energy strategy. We brought this typically dry subject to life with a timeline-based design, and lots of bright, bold ways of displaying key stats. The document’s initial print run has since had to be doubled due to increased interest, and has been very well received by key stakeholders.
Overall, our work with GFirst LEP has led to greater interest from the business community and the public, with a consistent increase in website traffic.