Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Building a website to support the ambitions of a national heritage brand.

CWGC wanted a new website that would provide the foundation for its future ambitions to become a heritage brand.

To achieve that, the website needed to highlight the work of CWGC to improve its brand awareness and position

A difficult-to-manage CMS within the old website had made content creation challenging and demanding which meant that CWGC found it difficult to promote the full range of its activities and sufficiently highlight the stories of those it commemorates.

As a result, the main focus of the website was its casualty search function. However, this required perfection from users who had to know exact service numbers or names to get the expected results. This impacted CWGC’s ability to reach a wider audience outside of historians or experts and appeal to members of the public with an interest in their family tree and history.

Our approach

The first action was to review CWGC’s CMS and understand what its content editors wanted to achieve. The new CMS would form the basis of a variety of new page templates which CWGC could easily configure to suit their needs.

A key priority for the CMS was for it to support different media formats like video and audio. This would help bring to life the personal stories behind some of it’s records and create richer content.

This in turn would help free up valuable time for CWGC to create interesting and insightful content, showcasing its expertise and work.

To open up CWGC’s work to a broader audience or family historians, the records search function needed updating. By placing less emphasis on perfection and displaying related queries, the main attraction of the site would become much more accessible.

The solution

The new website gives CWGC the flexibility and foundation it needs to raise awareness of the brand and its work. It supports important annual and national campaigns and helps bring to life and maintain the personal experiences of those who lived through the war.

Flexible CMS for better storytelling 

The new CMS now has a grid block editor which makes it significantly easier for CWGC’s content editors to make changes to the website. Common elements can be mixed and matched to quickly create pages that meet user needs. This frees up time for CWGC to curate interesting and insightful content.

The CMS also supports videos, imagery and sound files, enabling CWGC to tell the emotive and personal stories behind its records.

The flexible nature of page creation also makes it easy to build on the site and add new functionality. Since launch, we’ve developed an enhanced log-in section, made efficient and continual improvements which was previously impossible.

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Better search function

We introduced Elasticsearch so users no longer need to know the exact service number or name relating to the record they’re looking for. This has opened the search up to a wider audience and it’s now useful to users who are just starting out with research or are curious.

To ensure users continue to see the benefit of the records search, we introduced a new ‘saved searches’ feature. Users can now bookmark searches they’re interested in and receive notifications when additional records are available or records are updated. This helps re-engage users and interact with them beyond the initial records search.

Intuitive and enhanced UX

The website is now much easier to navigate and, in combination with the new CMS grid management, users can easily explore further content and CWGC can better promote news and upcoming events. This keeps users on the site for longer and better showcases CWGC’s work.

Part of this was introducing related tagging across the website. CMS users can tag individual pages around a certain topic. Then, when an article or content pod is added to the page, relevant content is automatically pulled through with the same tag. This helps to push users deeper into the website, discovering more interesting content. It also reduces the admin for content managers as content is automatically populated and related articles don’t need to be handpicked.

Removing manual tasks

The complexity of the old website meant that a lot of tasks had to be managed manually or information was stored across multiple systems. The new CMS has streamlined membership management enabling CWGC to access all the information they need within one central CMS.

We also automated the generation of voucher codes. Previously, voucher codes were stored in a separate database which someone had to manually input into the CMS to generate as required. The site is now integrated with Vendr and CWGC can generate 100s of voucher codes at the click of a button.

“For us, we felt that the team at Enjoy Digital really understood the crux of our ethos, through their content and user experience focus, whilst at the same time, presenting the technology advancements we need in place to make this happen. This is just the start for our digital future, and we are excited to see the development unfold.”

Emily Cecile-Pritchard CWGC’s Digital Specialist

Results

CWGC’s new website is flexible, user friendly for both front-end and back-end users, and provides the foundation CWGC needs to build on for the future.

We worked with CWGC’s PR agency to develop an interactive campaign, #ShineOn. Users were able to name a star after those who died in the two world wars as a way to mark Remembrance Sunday.

Time-consuming tasks are a thing of the past and the website provides another gateway and platform for CWGC to launch its annual campaigns.

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War records search has been used over 6 million times, with over a million uses every month

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Since launch, the site has had almost 2 million page entrances

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The site has seen almost 14 million page views, showing that users are exploring the site

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