International Trade Centre.

New web presence

Case Study

At a glance

The International Trade Centre (ITC), a joint organization of the WTO and the UN, was seeking not merely a redesign of their web presence, but rather an entirely new experience: serving relevant and timely content to a diverse audience, ranging from SMEs to policymakers and funders, and conveying a young, fresh, and vibrant look and feel.

Whitespace is proud to have been selected to design and build this deep-content website and support ITC's mission of Trade for Sustainable Development.

Client
Sector

Public Sector / United Nations

Project

Drupal website (2021-2022)

Activities

User research and benchmarking

Design Thinking workshops

Information architecture

Prototype and functional specifications

Content strategy and editorial workflow

Template design and style guide

Usability testing (twice)

Drupal development

Data visualisation

Drupal training for content editors and admins

Technologies

Drupal 9

Solr

D3.js

MS Azure

Putting users first

Getting to know the different audiences for this website was a continuous and multi-faceted process. We conducted extensive secondary and primary research to better understand user needs: benchmarking the site against other UN and International Organisations, running surveys with internal and external users, and conducting in-depth one-on-one interviews with representative key users from across the globe.

Persona of a SME
Persona of a business user
Persona of a BSO
Persona of a Business Support Organisation representative

Our team also facilitated numerous internal workshops, covering the vision for the new web presence, its information architecture, content, and integration requirements with other systems. We repeatedly carried out usability tests to make sure the stakeholders’ needs were reflected in the final product.

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Whitespace was amazing in the way they engaged with both ITC’s internal stakeholders and external clients during all the project phases. They perfectly understood our complex service offering and helped us simplify it making the user journey a pleasant and engaging experience.

Luisa Cassaro, Digital Communications Officer, International Trade Centre

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Making it feel simple

On the surface, the ITC website looks extremely simple. It uses vivid imagery, illustrations, and large font sizes. Behind the scenes, however, the website, built on Drupal 9, integrates with a large number of systems. It provides easy access to valuable information on trade and country data, training and events, funding and so much more. One of the objectives was indeed to vastly reduce the amount of static information and surface the vast richeness of dynamic information. This collective knowledge can now be easily discovered and explored via a single point of entry.

 

Benin trade data published by ITC/UN
Example of visualizing trade data and providing access to ITC tools

Finding the right information is always a challenge for large organizational websites. In the past, users would rather use Google than explore the site. The new website provides a simple yet deep menu, a powerful search and different ways to access the information via dynamic "hubs," such as topic, country, or audience focused pages. Behind the scenes, we had to align the different terminologies  and define a company-wide taxonomy in order to achieve the seamless integration of content parts.

Working in a "new normal"

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This project created a sense of closeness and collaboration in a time when the world was under lock-down due to COVID-19 restrictions. We conducted the project entirely online, meeting in person only after we had gone live and needed to reflect on our work together. Despite being kept apart physically, it was felt both from the agency and client-side that we had a great working relationship and understanding, and that we always went above and beyond for one another.

As Luisa, the ITC project manager noted,

Despite the Covid pandemic restrictions and the need to manage the whole project remotely, our collaboration was spotless and fun.

From old to new

The previous website had grown organically over the past 10 years, resulting in an unbalanced site architecture, a very busy homepage, and countless (sometimes outdated) content pages. It was also using a legacy CMS that was extremely difficult to maintain. The ITC communication team was eager to simplify the site management for the editors AND make it more relevant to the different stakeholders. As Vittorio Cammarota, the Chief of Communications and Events simply put it:

This is not a redesign, this is a brand-new website.

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Rachael Camp

Rachael Camp

UX Designer

While supporting the client in their transition to a new way of working, I felt that the website was actually bringing together different teams within the ITC organization. I really saw a shift in the quality of content being created from the first piece to the last.

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