Grantham Research Institute

Future proofing LSE’s climate change research website

Image of Grantham Research Institute homepage

Project overview

As a research centre based at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) – the world’s leading centre for social sciences, the Grantham Research Institute has a vision strongly aligned with our own.

The Institute envisions a future in which climate change and other global environmental challenges are managed effectively to promote prosperity and well-being, so we were very excited to work with them to bring their website up to date.

As the design and built of the site had not changed significantly since 2014, the focus was on updating the backend, while also bringing the design up to date and creating a more streamlined user experience for their audience.

The result is a cleaner, fresher site that makes it much easier for the institute’s audience to find what they’re looking for, and also easier for the team at Grantham to keep the site up to date with their latest research.

Features

  • Cleaner, lighter homepage design
  • Content migration and organisation
  • Advanced search & filters
  • Dual publishing

0.52g

C02 per page view

100%

Accessibility score

1.3s

Homepage load time

Our research centre based at LSE was looking for a site that would be more flexible and adaptable for the years ahead as well as for a more modern and engaging design. Wholegrain delivered on both these requirements on time and to budget. In the process they have provided us with a website that is fit for purpose for the coming years and that people across our organisation are proud of.

Merlin Sibley, Digital Communications Manager

Cleaner, lighter homepage design

Although the main brief was focused on future proofing the website by rebuilding the backend while keeping the existing design and structure, we proposed some simple layout changes to make it more inviting.

We redesigned the homepage as a magazine style layout, to make this point of entry more visually engaging, and allow the Institute to present a wider range of featured items including multi-media and social media content. The updated design is also lighter and more responsive, making the site more accessible on mobile devices. 

As well as updating the homepage design, we also made some layout changes to the Research areas and Explainers pages – key pages on the Institute’s website – bringing them in line with the updated homepage design. 

Image showing research page of the website

Content migration and organisation

To ensure the new website would be easy for the content team at Grantham to edit and maintain, we migrated all of the content from the WordPress Classic Editor and ACF fields across to the now default Gutenberg editor. This offers the team much more flexibility over the page layout, and allows them to create further pages as needed.

We also worked closely with the team to help them to better organise their research content, which forms the backbone for how all content on the site is categorised. We streamlined this, replacing the previous content type names, which varied throughout the site, so that they are now all known as ‘research areas’ across all post types. This helps to improve the results when people are searching for specific research.

Image of Grantham Research Institute news page with a mobile in front displaying an image of the search function

Advanced search and filters

The Grantham Research Institute website contains a wealth of information that is constantly updated, so an effective search function is vital to ensure those visiting the site can easily find what they are looking for. 

To improve the search function, we added Elasticsearch technology to the new website. This separates the search index from the main website database, enabling faster and more accurate search results with no impact on the speed of the main website, even when many people are using the search simultaneously.

This new search function:

  • Delivers fast, accurate results 
  • Allows real-time filtering, with no need to refresh the page
  • Enables filtering by relevant data such as subject or author
  • Allows the user to sort results by date or relevance
  • Tailors the search results to improve the search experience
  • Allows the Institute to customise the top search terms to highlight their most popular content.
Image of the Grantham Research Institute displaying the search function in tablet and mobile formats

Dual publishing

LSE in partnership with the University of Leeds also runs a website, for the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP). This is a completely separate research centre set up in 2008 and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Some of the Grantham Research Institute’s research outputs are also funded through CCCEP and therefore need to be published on both sites.

As part of the update of the main website, we migrated the dual publishing functionality. Before doing so, we undertook a comprehensive code review of the integration between the two websites to ensure it would be fit for the future.

Ongoing maintenance

Following the launch of their new website, we have developed an ongoing relationship with Grantham through our maintenance contract, which includes daily backups, security support, crisis resolution and more. This continuous support ensures that their new site remains safe and up to date, giving the team the peace of mind to focus on its content.

The thing that impressed me most about working with Wholegrain was their excellent communication throughout the project. Despite everyone remote working for the duration of the project there was also a strong sense of Wholegrain working as a team to deliver the project and respond to issues that came up.

Image of Merlin Sibley

Merlin Sibley