A woman sitting on the floor in a kitchen, licking a spoon

Action Hampshire
Community Action Website

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01.

The Brief

Action Hampshire is the name Council for Voluntary Services (CVS) that serves the whole of Hampshire. They provide support and guidance for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations across the County, through partnerships and community development. When we met them in 2021, they had a website that had been built for them that they were struggling with.

It had been built with a theme that had been used on 45 other websites, even though they believed they were having a bespoke theme created for them. It was incredibly slow to load, there were 41 coding errors and over 100 accessibility issues. It was also hosted in the United States and, unsurprisingly, it had very poor Google rankings.

Their actual branding was really strong, clear and attractive, it was just so unfortunate that the website was so poorly built. There was a large amount of content on the website, which was being added to regularly.

When we started working with them, it was clear that we need to build a new, bespoke site whilst using the existing content as a framework. As is usual with our bespoke builds, we started with our web design questionnaire at the outset. Action Hampshire took this opportunity to organise the content and several designs were required for the different areas of the website and several designs were required as they wished to have quite specific layouts for certain areas.

Services

Web Development, WordPress

Technologies

WordPress CMS, PHP, HTML / CSS, JavaScript / jQuery, Job Board

02.

Design

Polly, our incredible designer, loves comings up with fresh new designs and, with Action Hampshire, she loved their existing branding, so it was a case of coming up with design ideas that would meet their requirements. It is a big site and has to meet the needs of a lot of different interest groups. What we were so pleased to see was their commitment to producing content regularly and they showed a great deal of creativity, despite being hampered by a website that did not meet their needs.

For example, 2021 was their 70th anniversary and they had produced some lovely Impact graphics, one for each year but they were unable to show them directly on the website so they had to resort to putting them on external websites and social media. They all now sit proudly on the website and look just great!

Every aspect of the design was discussed at length and we proceeded to the build when it was all signed off.

There was a significant amount of functionality required. For example, other organisations needed to be able to advertise their job vacancies and upcoming events. There is no point in reinventing the wheel, so we integrated some commercial plugins to provide this. One of the great things about WordPress is that, if there is a specific requirement, a commercial plugin is usually available to meet that need. Integrating them is not always straightforward but it is more economical than writing the code from scratch.

However, there is something that we will never buy or use a plugin for, and that is the design of a website. One of the reasons why the previous website was so challenging was because it was full of plugins to create visual effects and styles. We come across this quite often. If you lack the coding skills to write this yourself you have to resort to using other people’s code but the difficulty with doing this is that it can cause all sorts of conflicts and affect other aspects of the design.

I am proud of the fact that our bespoke designs are truly that. This is why we always create a visual mock-up and get it signed off before proceeding with the build. We need to ensure that our websites work well with all the major browsers, mobile devices and desktop computers and if you use a plugin to create a nice design effect, it can cause no end of problems.

3 mobile images taken from the Action Hampshire website

03.

Outcome

The coding and accessibility issues are resolved with the new site. This is the advantage of having a website built by an agency that has been working in accessible web design for 15 years. We have been working closely with Action Hampshire’s new CEO, Leah Campbell, throughout the project and she was kind enough to give us the following testimonial:

“Our old website looked nice but was a mess behind the scenes. We’ve really enjoyed working with Clive and Polly to design our new website. Their ability to mix standard best-practice elements with bespoke custom features really worked for us. Clive and Polly were always willing to find a solution to any problem we had. The final result is a collaborative effort between Action Hampshire and Access By Design, and we’re very happy with it.”

We have been working with charities and other not-for-profit organisations since 2006 and they account for around 25% of our business. It is so important that your organisation has a website built that meets the needs of all your visitors, regardless of their ability or disability.

Please call us today on 01243 7763999 and find out how we could help you.

The Action Hampshire website Home Page

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