Thinking locally, acting nationally: delivering relevant, personal results to users nationwide

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About the Client

For over 100 years The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) have been caring for Britain's wildlife. This UK-wide group of local wildlife charities now looks after 2,300 nature reserves, supported by a combined 800,000+ members, The Wildlife Trusts' UK website acts as a central hub for 46 local trusts, by managing content on nature reserves, volunteering, events, and member activities across the country.

Business Challenge

The Wildlife Trusts' primary concern is the conservation of wildlife in the UK, so their digital experience had taken a backseat. By working with Precedent, we incorporated successful features of the existing website into a new content management system.

The client's goals were:

  • To create a new mobile-friendly experience for Wildlife Trust website users

  • To share content between Wildlife Trust websites using a customisable website template

  • To recruit volunteers

  • To encourage more people to take action for wildlife

  • To increase online memberships and donations

Together we believed this could be achieved through a more responsive website for mobile users and a fluid customer journey between trust websites.

Unlike some of our other projects, where we take full responsibility for managing and launching a new site build, we worked collaboratively with the onsite digital team within the Wildlife Trusts. This approach allowed us to combine our expertise and to ensure an end result that was optimised for front-end and back-end users, and met the needs of the public using the website.

Custom Branding

We rebuilt the central and local websites to provide the option of local trusts to take up a more united front, raising consistency as users navigate across each trust. The interface and branding were aligned using custom Drupal modules, to allow flexible design for each local site, whilst maintaining consistency. Page owners can personalise their logo, strapline, and colour scheme from a predetermined selection, allowing personalisation whilst maintaining structural and stylised architecture. This increased cohesion for visitors viewing multiple trust websites.

We also implemented an intuitive component-based page structure to allow content creators to easily manage a mixture of media, text and widgets, whilst still maintaining template consistency across pages. In order to allow admins to easily customise Drupal's Views pages (by default, not a content-editor-friendly UI itself) we created a custom entity to make editing the header region of all Views pages easy.


Centralised Content Management

The Wildlife Trusts’ sites need to present a huge amount of content, in a way that is logically-arranged and easily-navigable for the end user.

As such, we wrote a bespoke code solution to allow for migration and content sharing between sites. This proved particularly useful for universally relevant content, including; Nature Reserves, Events, Species and Habitats, Actions and 'My Wild Life'. From the national level, down to the local sites, content is canonicalised and can be selected or switched off as appropriate to avoid duplication. This also provided an easier way for individual trusts to personalise and catalogue the content that was most important to them, whilst maintaining structural, stylised consistency between subpages.

Empowering Local Trusts

The custom branding tools and central hub decentralise the control of content distribution and give individual trusts the power to manage their own website. Whilst content comes from one place, the easy distribution and management mean that local trusts are no longer dependant on a central provider and can tailor a more relevant service.

Empowering local trusts to manage, post and edit their own content means they can promote the information that their community wants to see, when they want to see it. The members of the Wildlife Trusts are what keeps the organisation alive, so it’s a great win to be able to provide them with specific content relevant to their local area. This improves the experience of users up and down the country and their relationship with the trusts.

User Journeys

We improved the user journey, by returning global results from all Trust sites when users search by location. This removed site restrictions and allowed users to access all the information relevant to their location. Ultimately, by connecting the digital presence, we helped to promote the essential nature of the trust network as a whole.

Finding a Nature Reserve

With over two-thousand nature reserves to choose between, we needed to present a vast array of options in an interactive and user-friendly fashion. The ‘Find a Nature Reserve’ page integrates Google maps with a postcode search function and a range of filtering options, to help users find their ideal day out.

Information from local trusts is pulled together into a centralised location, and then can be filtered by location, facilities and “great for…” suggestions, to target specific wildlife types.

The filtering system involves a variety of tick box and drop-down options, which all adjust the map and list view on the central site, before linking through to the individual local sites for further information. 

Mobile Optimisation

One of the primary functions of the website is for identifying species whilst on the move. Therefore, it was essential that the website had responsive images, providing quicker navigation on mobile and tablet for the everyday adventurer. A contrib module (RRSSB) was used to provide social media sharing links wherever the user is on the page. This makes sharing content with friends and family as quick and easy on a mobile device as it is on desktop.

Welsh language Integration

There are currently 5 Welsh trusts, so we wanted to ensure that their users were also accommodated. A language translation functionality was added, to enable Welsh speakers to view the sites in their chosen language, with an easy language switcher interface.

Quality Assurance (QA) Testing

All of our projects undergo rigorous testing, throughout the software development process. In order to deliver the utmost quality for clients and their respective users, our in-house QA team ensure that all end products perform accurately and reliably under normal and abnormal conditions. Testing is followed by continual monitoring of software performance, to prevent reoccurrence of any issues and to ensure efficient ongoing operation.

As such, we were able to confidently deliver a well-designed, scalable and technically stable result.


After just over a year working on the project, the National Wildlife Trusts site was launched in May 2018, with the Surrey site following a couple of days later. To create a consistent and seamless user journey, the wider trusts’ sites are planned for staggered release, to join these newly launched sites with an updated appearance and fully-functional interface.

The end result is an interactive and engaging site, to boost involvement with and enjoyment of everything that The Wildlife Trusts support. The new page style is cascading through the site, simplifying and modernising the way that key information is portrayed.

The Wildlife Trust case study mockup 2 (3)

See the results for yourself on the Wildlife Trusts website.

We are pleased with the way CTI Digital has collaborated with our in-house digital team to develop our new network of Wildlife Trust websites. Millions of people visit our websites each year, and we hope it's easier for people to find information on how they can get involved, support their Wildlife Trust and take action for wildlife. We have more exciting developments on the way, including a new online donation system, so watch this space!

Adam Cormack, Head of Communications at Wildlife Trusts