Case study - clareshort.org

The Rt Hon. Clare Short served as Britain's Secretary of State for International Development (1997-2003) and Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood (1983-2007). Since leaving Parliament she has worked as chair of numerous non-governmental humanitarian and advocacy groups working with communities across the developing world.

The brief

In 2016 Clare Short commissioned me to redevelop her personal site. After thorough auditing we agreed the following brief:

  • To undertake domain and protocol migrations. Specifically:
    • To switch from the .co.uk top-level domain to the more appropriate .org extension
    • To move from the insecure http protocol to the encrypted https protocol
  • To upgrade the outdated static infrastructure into a dynamic CMS that would allow Clare to add and manage content herself.
  • To create a complete repository of Clare’s writings dating back to the 1990s, organised into custom content types, cross-referenced by tags and categories, so as to facilitate intra-site syndication.
  • To provide a thorough account of Clare’s campaigning and advocacy work since leaving Parliamentary politics.
  • To establish a robust analytics framework that would enable Clare and myself to keep track of key engagement metrics.
  • To update the site’s theme and appearance so as to make it more aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable to use, bringing it inline with recent advances in user experience design.
  • To conduct technical and content SEO audits.

My approach

By engaging thoroughly with Clare’s writings and career during the auditing stage I had a very clear idea of how I wanted to transform her digital presence. I really felt that the old site simply did not do her justice as an important British statesperson and respected authority on international development. This was underscored by the sites’ analytics that showed high volumes for search terms which queried Clare’s opinions on topical political matters. There was a clearly a demand for content that was not being met.

I was also motivated by historical factors. Clare was involved directly in several significant events in recent British history: the decision to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving in Labour’s generation-defining 1997 government, and Clare’s pivotal role in establishing the Department for International Development as an independent department of state with Clare as its first cabinet-level Secretary.

I wanted the site to be equal to the task of providing a fair and representative historical record of Clare’s career.

The site I created strove to bring Clare’s views and political arguments to the fore, emphasising the breadth and insight of her writings, reflecting the substance of Clare’s career whilst also adverting to her current commitments on behalf of numerous humanitarian causes and organisations.

Results

Key pages

The screenshots below highlight give a representative picture of the site's key pages. You can also directly compare the old version of the site (Internet Archive) of the site with the new.

Long form content

Article at desktop proportions.
Long form content viewed on tablet.

Category page

Static page

Reporting framework

Embedded below is the automated reporting framework I built for clareshort.org . It was built using the Google Data Studio business intelligence platform and integrates data from both Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

The report includes a summary of key metrics, designed primarily for the client's perusal along with more technical pages which enable me to monitor and track the site's uptake and overall SEO health. It is an example of the client-directed reporting frameworks I offer as part of my data and analytics service line.

Coda

I continue to manage clareshort.org, liaising directly with Clare, adding new content, monitoring engagement and guaranteeing the sites technical integrity.