The Somerset Drug & Alcohol Partnership (SDAP) commissions services for those affected by the harm associated with drugs and alcohol, including adults, young people, families, friends & carers and healthcare professionals.
This support includes information, resources and training, for this very vital role in Somerset. Central to SDAP is the partnership's website, which allows the target audience to access information when and where it suits them.
The previous SDAP website was built using Wordpress coupled with a number of third party and custom-developed plug-ins. This approach resulted in a number of issues.
Wordpress is a great tool for blogging and we love it for this purpose, but in recent years has been massively developed by means of third party open source development to allow for ecommerce and other features. This has made the platform very popular and as a result has, in some cases, become a victim of its own success - its ubiquitous nature makes it an obvious target for hackers.
This was certainly the case with the previous SDAP site, which, shortly after we were commissioned to build a new website became the victim of the Wordpress Pharma Hack. As a result, the site had to be taken down.
SDAP performs a crucial role in the Somerset community and as such we wanted to develop a site that was as easy to access by the target audience as possible. As such, we recommended a responsive design, allowing the site to reformat dynamically to suit the device it was being access on, from desktop to tablet to smartphone.
Design for touch devices starts from the initial visuals, as calls to action, buttons and other controls have to be design to work well with fingers, not just mouse pointers! We also developed the website's directory search facility to take advantage of the HTML5 geolocation feature, allowing users to find directory services nearest to them.
Simple usability features such as search filters and pagination also makes the site much easier to use with good feedback being reported from users.
The previous website had a bespoke course bookings module, which was quite time consuming to administer. We are always interested in improving processes as part of a project, so we took an extensive requirements brief from SDAP on their current manual processes and how they might be automated by the website.
As a result, many hours of manual work for each course is now done automatically by the website and CMS, freeing up valuable staff resources to make a difference in other areas of the service where human interaction can really make a difference.
We continue to work with the SDAP team on fine-tuning the website to deliver the best results to their users.
From our first sit down with morphsites to discuss what we wanted from our website we knew we were working with the right group of people - as they listened to what we wanted from the site and were prepared for making our ‘wants’ a reality for us. They just have the ability to explain very technical details in a clear non patronising way to those us that don’t speak ‘tech’.
They have a strong ‘can do’ ethos but even more than that, it has been of huge benefit to work with a company that uses its technical knowledge and expertise in web development to also present alternatives that achieves even better outcomes than we could even have envisaged!
We set them many challenges which they have risen to, including developing a booking system to administer our training programme and a searchable directory of services – both are very easy to use our end and for our customers.
We expected this project to be hard work (for them and us) but it was a real delight to work with such a professional and human company.