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Cancer Research UK

User evidence from UX research is essential to ensure that a website is truly user focused – and is also a powerful tool to help stimulate change in the organisation

  • Who: Cancer research UK
  • What: A complete site redevelopment and redesign
  • How: A busy programme of user research, persona development, IA development and iterative prototype testing
  • Result: 80% task completion success rate on the new site and greater search engine visibility


When we began working with Cancer Research UK (CRUK), their website was built from five separate sites presented as one. These separate sites reflected the history and structure of the organisation, with a different department responsible for each site.

As a result, there were competing views across the organisation about the site purpose and the priority users that the site should support. This caused problems such as similar content being in a number of locations, the information architecture being ineffective, users not understanding the full range of information and services, and CRUK fundraising not benefiting from the high levels of traffic in the other information parts of the site.

To address these issues, CRUK wished to produce an effective new Information Architecture (IA) for the main navigation and the detailed sections within the site – and which also had support from the different departments, bringing together the previously disparate parts of the organisation

What we did

Before touching the IA, it was important to really understand CRUK as an organisation and who their users are.

  • To begin, we undertook 41 interviews with CRUK staff to gain an understanding of CRUK aims for the site and its priorities
  • Next, we reviewed existing research and site analytics to understand of users and their goals
  • This helped us develop 5 personas for the site – patient, supporter, researcher, media and job seeker
  • With the goals front of mine, we developed a radically new masthead IA using mega-dropdowns
  • The next step was to develop new IAs for the various masthead sections
  • Finally, we user tested the new IAs using 100s of tasks with nearly 220 testers through both qualitative lab based research and quantitative remote testing using our own online IA testing tool

After each stage of testing, we conducted workshops, each with up to 30 key stakeholders, to gain buy-in and support for the site strategy, personas and new masthead and section IAs


The new IAs worked well, enabling over 80% of tasks to be achieved by testers clicking through the correct top level ‘Masthead’ section. The new mega-drop downs dramatically increased CRUK’s search engine visibility.

And as a result of the process adopted, organisational buy-in to the approach was high.

“The project delivered by Web Usability laid the foundations for an ambitious business case to invest in CRUK’s Digital presence, which has received full Executive Board support and is now being implemented. The project has been a catalyst for moving the organisation to a truly user-centred approach. Web Usability demonstrated a great deal of skill in influencing our internal stakeholders, and their rigorous, evidence-based approach was highly valued by those of us involved in the project.”

Nicola O’Conner – Digital Content Strategy Specialist

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