The West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) focus on understanding the cause of violence and the reasons why young people are led into a life of crime.
With rates of violent crime consistently rising in the West Midlands, the VRU needed a platform that they can use to connect with young people as well as allowing practitioners, educators and volunteers to get involved with crime reducing initiatives.
By working closely together, Formation Media and the VRU have created a highly contemporary, user friendly website that provides the platform that VRU need.
The new website acts as a fantastic reference point, with a large amount of information on important issues, such as Education, Tackling Exploitation & Abuse and Criminal Justice.
With an SEO friendly, fully accessible website, as well as an improvement to brand image, the VRU are taking steps to improve their digital presence and connect with their audience online.
As of September 2020, all Public Sector websites are legally obliged to meet digital accessibility standards. This meant that the new VRU website had to be designed and developed according to governmental guidance, so that people of all abilities could use the site, access key information and navigate with as much ease as possible.
In order to meet accessibility standards, we have made specialist accommodation for keyboard users, so the whole site including any menus can be navigated successfully using only the keyboard, as well as ensuring that the site reacts well to intense zooming. With the visually impaired in mind, we have also ensured that any fonts, colours and buttons used across the site all meet the recommended guidelines.
We saw it as an absolute necessity to ensure that all of our team are trained and qualified in digital accessibility, from our specialist web developers and designers to our content writers.
With digital accessibility regulations somewhat limiting design possibilities in public sector websites, part of our challenge was to ensure that the VRU website was still able to be striking, attractive and modern, as is the aim with all Formation Media websites, whilst ensuring compliance.
Our deep understanding of digital accessibility has allowed us to create a beautiful and highly functional website that meets the requirements of the VRU.
The clean, uncluttered homepage uses coloured segments to ensure that each area of content is clearly defined and easy to read, whilst simple iconography and call-to-action buttons help direct users into key areas and allow them to easily engage.
User Experience and User Journey are key aspects in any Formation Media design, and form a huge part of our identity. We always feel that websites should be focused around the user’s needs.
With a simple top navigation, users are directed into key points of action, whilst a hierarchical burger menu gives users a clear and structured menu to access both highly important information, as well as areas of the site that are important in their own right, but perhaps less so than the main subject areas.
Each page within the site (apart from the homepage) also has an interior sub menu to the right-hand side of the page. This allows users to easily navigate between further sub-pages, and allows them to have a constant visual of what else lies within each area.
Engaging specific demographics is one of the key objectives for the VRU website, with Education being one of the most important user groups.
With that in mind, we created an area of the site specifically for Education practitioners, called the Education Member’s Area. Teachers and professionals within education can sign up and gain access to a private area where they can browse and download useful resources, such as posters, videos and documents. There is also a forum functionality, where Educators can discuss topics and share experiences.
The VRU funds local sports and other activities at locations around the West Midlands, with the view of supporting, engaging and protecting young people.
Key to maximising participation is allowing people to find out what activities they can access and where they are located, so Formation Media have implemented an interactive map that allows users to search by postcode or manually to find locations for activities in their area. Each location is clickable, so users can see what is happening there and get contact details, so they can easily get in touch.
Built using WordPress, we have been able to provide a fluid, easy to use Content Management System that gives admins at the VRU the ability to easily edit site content themselves, as well as build complex new pages from scratch using a completely user-friendly block editor.
The WordPress dashboard is easy to navigate, and allows admins to create user profiles, add locations to maps, create job vacancies, edit banners and much much more. To make this as easy as possible to use, we also delivered live CMS training as well as a comprehensive User Guide to a number of individuals who would be regularly editing the site.
Formation Media handled the entire process from quote to delivery with extremely high levels of professionalism and integrity. Their communication levels are good which makes working with them easy. We’re delighted with the new site, which was delivered on time and on budget. It’s the 2nd time I have built a website with Formation and I wouldn’t hesitate to do so again Tom Turrell, Senior Media and Communications Manager