How people with dementia drove the redesign of our website

Alzheimer's Society has launched a new brand and website for people affected by dementia. Imogen Levy, Senior Digital Manager, looks at the process for redesigning the website and involving people affected by dementia at every stage.

With the launch of a new brand for the Society came an excellent opportunity to redevelop the website. 

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We gladly took on the challenge to design something that is truly useful and engaging for people affected by dementia. The one common thread with every web development project I have worked on is that you need to engage people who will be using the site. Including users in the design process means whatever you end up with will have been designed around what users want and need. This is so important.

Who are we creating a website for?

The first step in any website project is to get a greater understanding of your audience - the people using the website on a day to day basis. We conducted lots of research from surveys to workshops, both internally with staff and externally at focus groups across the UK.

From all the data gathered we developed a set of seven key personas that tell stories about what different users want, so that we can help meet their goals. We then developed a new website structure and a content audit to directly align the content on the website with the user goals identified in the personas.

digital persona

How did people who are affected by dementia help redesign the site’s structure?

We set a selection of tasks to user testers who are affected by dementia and match one of the personas. A website should provide an easy path of navigation through its content, so we asked our testers to find certain webpages and measured how easily they completed this. From here we continued to develop the final structure that is easiest to navigate.

With an agreed website structure we then started to mock up what our website pages would look like. With many devices now able to access the web it is also very important to consider how your pages will look on different screen sizes. 

quotes from people affected by dementia

Finishing touches

The next stage was to put all our research into practice and start applying colours, font and design elements to the page. A website design has to be both visually appealing and in this case adhere to our new brand.

Navigating websites can be problematic for a large number of people whether you have dementia or not; they should minimise the choice a user has to make, be easy and logical to navigate and help people get what they want as quickly as possible. 

New website for people with dementia

Ready for launch

Various teams and individuals around the Society have worked hard with the Digital team to upload a finished website ready to go live in January.

We are confident that the new site meets our users’ needs and is dementia friendly. But we welcome feedback! The new website is a continuous work in progress and we will be improving it and making changes all the time.

Take a look around and let us know what you think in the comments box below. If you’re interested in taking part in future user testing, we’d love to hear from you – just email [email protected]

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9 comments

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Follows the DAI mantra of 'nothing about us without us': what a great approach to this initiative.

Love this! Thoughtful web design is so important in empowering people with dementia, rather than just communicating with the people who support them.

I have dementia and l can't get my head around the fact that 'branding' is such a key issue. Please convince me that it is.
What l'd like to see is all the funding that goes to obesity and smoking, is redirected to dementia.
It really pains me to know that that there are people who have never looked after themselves and expect others to do it for them.
I have played football, swam and ran regular, so why can't they ?
I know l sound bitter but hey, you only live once !

Hi Harry, thanks for your feedback. Rebranding means we will be bolder, more distinctive and better understood. We will become more relevant and better equipped to engage with new audiences so that dementia is a top social priority. You can read more about our decision to rebrand, and how people affected by dementia helped to develop it, over at this blog post: https://blog.alzheimers.org.uk/inside-the-society/making-dementia-impos…

Hi loving the new rebranding and the strap lines
Makes it almost trendy to have dementia now
Let's make it work

Will look forward to read further development

How much did the re-branding cost and did you spend any of the money from fundraising on it?

Hi Janis, many thanks for your message. We know that charities spending money on their brand is scrutinised by the media and supporters – and rightly so. However a significant spend was necessary to consult, test and design a brand identity with the necessary tools, then to create guidance and training for users.

We also have an implementation budget. It is not huge but it should be enough to ensure that key materials and channels are branded properly. For everything else, the implementation will be phased. This means that existing stocks of branded materials can be run down and then replaced with material carrying the new identity, so introducing the brand through natural wastage; we don't plan to send our materials to landfill. This replacement of old stock with new should be covered by team, department or locality budgets. Some items, like our website, will be rebranded at cost.

One of the core objectives of the rebrand is to attract more supporters to build sustainability to achieve our mission. We therefore hope that – over time – the new brand will generate far more money than it will cost. There are many good examples in the charity sector – for example Macmillan Cancer Support – where investment in brand has led to substantial awareness and growth.

We hope this helps answer your questions! Thanks again, and all the best.

It looks fantastic and is money well spent.

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