A whale of a time: creating a new website for Whale & Dolphin Conservation

Our new international, multilingual websites for Whale & Dolphin Conservation went live a few weeks ago. We thought we’d share a bit about the project and what went into creating the sites.

Enhancing the charity brand

There were several aims for the project. One of the most important was making WDC's online presence much more striking, fun and passionate; to reflect their brand. Another key goal was to put the aims of the charity, and the impact they have, front and centre.

As well as these brand and communication objectives, WDC wanted a more flexible way to add and update content. This would allow them to respond quickly to world events and drive greater support through much better supporter journeys.

The team at WDC had also said from early on that they were keen to rewrite the copy for the site. This wasn’t just about new packaging for the same content, but an entire re-write. We worked with them on developing the tone of voice for their online communications, provided example content and a copy-writing guide that they used to unify their 'house style'.

Audience first design

The starting point for the project was to work with the team at WDC to understand their audiences, the challenges facing WDC and how to best drive support for their cause. We spoke directly with the teams in Latin America, Germany and North America because we were keen to understand how the audiences and approach differed across the countries and cultures. From this we developed a set of personas that we used to shape the user journeys and initial wireframes of the website.

One of our main aims was to understand the key entry points on the website and engage people beyond the initial landing page. We worked on structuring the content to drive visitors to find out more and, ultimately, move them to take action and become supporters. One example of this was looking at how we could take people from high traffic, high bounce-rate pages like the Species guide on to more in-depth content and ways to get involved.

Donating, adopting and decision making

One of the areas we spent time developing was a brand new WordPress plugin to manage the charity’s donations and adoptions.

Having developed lots of donation forms and processes we were keen to create something much more flexible than was offered by standard WordPress plugins like WooCommerce or WPGive.

One of WDC's core fundraising offers is the opportunity to adopt a specific Humpback, Orca or Dolphin and receive regular updates about your named animal. This was a great UX challenge. It involved much more complex decision making than a typical donation or adoption process by offering adult / junior options, picking a species and a specific animal. On top of this, large numbers of adoptions are given as gifts.

We created several design iterations of the adoptions flow and carried out user testing to hone the process. We are really excited to see how this performs and help WDC develop it based on supporter behaviour.

A big project and a great team

Overall the project included lots of great work from the team at WDC and here at BoldLight HQ.

We developed a new tone of voice and visual identity that support WDC's values of passion and authority. Together we rewrote all the content for the sites. We developed a flexible, modular templating system to build the website content. We integrated all the data-capture from donations, adoptions, petitions and newsletter sign-ups with WDC's existing CRM system. We created 5 international, multilingual websites where news and pages can be published centrally and pushed out to the regional sites. We built brand new tools for allowing content to be updated in a single place and used throughout WDC's sites. We benchmarked the analytics from the old website and set up comprehensive Tag Manager tracking to get meaningful insights from the new site activity.

I think it’s fair to say it was one of our most complex projects to date, but working with the lovely team at WDC and seeing the finished product live, has made it one of the most rewarding too.

Check out the new Whale & Dolphin Conservation website and maybe even adopt a dolphin (they make great Christmas presents for children who love Octonauts!)