That aim was informed by the views of our readers who we’ve tried to make central to the process of building this new site.
We used lots of data to help us achieve what we set out to do. In the last 18 months we have surveyed our readers, run focus groups and used data from our old site to find out what it is that people really want from our site.
The message was clear. They want a simpler site that was less cluttered, easier to navigate and had better search functionality. I think we’ve delivered on these things.
The home page is a great example of where we’ve done this.
- The navigation to our product guides (which we know is what our readers are most interested in) is now front and centre.
- We’ve slimmed down what appears on the home page so it's easier to see the wood for trees.
- And the search functionality is still there but much enhanced.
Product guide changes
We’ve also made some innovations on the product guides.
Our readers were struggling with a couple of aspects of the old site. Firstly making sense of the tables, and secondly finding the information they wanted quickly and easily. But we knew we had to maintain the amount of transparency in our ratings that people really value and which sets us above many of our competitors.
We think we’ve achieved this by creating a much simpler scoring table, that still contains all the score information, just in a more digestible format and also incorporates more of the product sustainability information that was missing on the old tables.
We also added more introductory information that summarises what’s in each guide to help people understand the issues. We now also give a company to avoid. This should help those who find it more difficult to shop for niche ethical products and just want to avoid the least ethical companies.
We’ve also made signifiant changes to our company profile pages, making them much more user friendly and adding some additional functionality to make it easy to publicly contact companies to let them know how you feel about their ethics – whether that be positive or negative.
A switch to an Open Source platform
We have also moved the site to a more open source platform, Drupal. This was a political decision taken by the Ethical Consumer co-op to move towards technology that better embodies our ethics of transparency and co-operation.
That’s not to say that we don’t still have our commercial objectives and you’ll still see that we have some paywalls in place to help fund our work. We’ve tried to ensure that these are not too intrusive and much of our work can still be read and shared freely.
On a commercial note we’ve also made some changes to the way we display advertising giving it less space (which we think will be good for readers) but slightly more prominence (which will be good for advertisers). As with the paywall we hope we’ve got this balance right.
An ongoing process
You’ll see that the site is now fully responsive and should be as easy to use on your mobile or tablet as it is on your laptop or desktop pc. This is obviously a difficult task and you’ll probably notice as we tweak the way you see the site on mobile as we move forward.
We also want to try and incrementally improve the site in a much more systematic way in the future so watch this space for more opportunities to contribute to the development of our site and for new innovations to appear.
The move to Drupal as mentioned above should also future proof the site and reduce the risk of issues faced by our old site as it came to the end of its life.
We hope that you enjoy the site and we welcome your comments via this simple feedback form. We'll also be emailing all our readers in November with more opportunities to send us your thoughts.