For many people, watching a film is an enriching experience. Films are entertaining but also thought-provoking, spurring conversation, deepening human connection and uniting actions. The British Film Institute is a charity uniquely positioned to support people to make the most of film. And to continue to support the film industry and connect people to engaging film, they wanted to redesign their digital presence.
For the last year, we’ve been working alongside the BFI Digital team to redesign the core digital service, bfi.org.uk. This has been as much about changing how BFI users experience and engage with the digital product as changing how BFI deliver digital services
We’ve supported BFI with the redesign and decluttering of information, through navigating layers of previous content and design complexity. Putting a firm emphasis on end-to-end service delivery across the website, as well as looking at long-term technical sustainability and capability building, we’ve supported the team to focus everything around the new digital mission of creating world-class services that inspire and enable people to do more with film.
Integrating diverse expertise and voices
The BFI is a complex organisation, offering services and unique content to a diverse range of consumer, industry and educational audiences. As an organisation, differing business and organisational goals has meant continually balancing the priorities of financial sustainability and cultural impact. This transformation has not been about replacing old skills with new. Instead, it’s about getting old and new skills to work together; merging editorial, content, design, technology, operation, data analytics and strategy.
We’ve worked closely with business teams from across the organisation to develop alpha services, empowering teams to co-create, working in multidisciplinary ways to learn new digital disciplines, such as better understanding users, prototyping and content design. As a blended team, we decluttered information, designed services and content that focus on what users need from beginning to end. We’ve built common components of services that can be used time and time again and introduced new tools for staff to manage their processes and content effectively.
BFI have fully embraced new mindsets and ways of working during this process. As a team, we’ve collaborated through virtual sprint planning sessions and online tools like Slack, Figma, Trello, Google Drive and Confluence. These tools are making collaboration across organisational boundaries more effective and have led to stronger relationships between teams.
“I feel very proud of what’s been achieved. The planning and hard work have flourished. I’ve never been involved in a project where an agency and client team has integrated so closely to form a single-family. I’m feeling very proud and excited about where we can take it next!” Edward Humphrey, Director of Digital & Ventures, BFI
Redesigning a new public-facing website and digital publishing
We wanted to deliver tangible benefit quickly to as many BFI users and staff as possible while solving common problems where the outputs can be reused across the organisation.
Together, we started with redesigning BFI’s public-facing website. As one of the main channels for people to engage with BFI services, improving the overall user experience would help introduce a noticeable improvement for a large number of people.
Ideally, designing services that have met a particular user need effectively, can then be easily lifted and be applied by other teams to a different service area.
Decluttering organisation complexity
The old website and corresponding services was a collection of years of different implementations and out of date systems, which were difficult to keep up to date. We needed to simultaneously look at revamping the legacy website, building sustainable technology and modernising ways of working across the organisation.
Our first steps were decluttering the content and offer in a way that makes sense to user needs. To help us understand BFI’s actual users and their needs, we conducted a 6-month nationwide discovery which was organised around the model of watch, learn and make films.
From speaking to a wide range of people, we’ve heard how much they respect the BFI brand and trust their opinion and many users rely on Google searches to find the information they need; be that funding information, archive research or watching films.
What sits at the core of the new BFI website is a simple information architecture which joins up the user experience with the site production. Collaboratively, we’ve worked with all major departments to declutter information, prioritise goals, design services and describe what the site does.
We’ve also supported the planning of the BFI’s future technology ecosystem, starting the process of joining up different fragmented systems and datasets into cohesive user and editor experience. The site is now built on a decoupled Content Management System (CMS) architecture with a frontend that brings together data from various BFI datasets via APIs and a new design system built in React.
Going live with the new minimum viable product
We’re delighted to have released the first version of the new website: bfi.org.uk
After months of work, users can now experience and access updated services and tools, co-designed with them. Now fully accessible, enjoyable and sustainable through the use of fresh visual language, a component-led product design system and common digital standards.
The delivery of this release is the first step of BFI’s digital service transformation. More features and services will be added to further enhance user experiences. Plans include a better ticket booking system, more connected ways to discover film and related articles, events, products and services.
Building on top of the visual, product, content and technology foundation we’ve already established, BFI will continue changing the way services are designed and delivered across the organisation.
Building a digitally-enabled BFI and helping people do more with film was originally published in FutureGov on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.