Charged with realising something that was very much ‘not an encyclopaedia’, we created a site based around clusters of content – themed and grouped articles and media that would take users on a voyage of discovery. Rather than a chronological account, it would be a collection of discrete but interlinked articles dipping into some of the most fascinating and compelling parts of Cornwall’s history and culture.
Through an in-depth user experience (UX) process, we carefully studied the needs and expectations of the site’s primary audience: children. This age group naturally comes with very different considerations to adults, including a lower reading level and concentration span, and – as we learned through school-based interviews – a desire for surprise, rather than predictability.
With this in mind, we designed a bright, visually appealing site, with the ability to access articles in many ways – by topic, by category, through fun facts and links, and through a homepage ‘on this day’ channel. This allows users to choose different pathways depending on their interests, and to encounter content they might not otherwise consider.
Reflecting the site’s lively and eclectic nature, imagery ranges from archive photographs to original illustrations contributed by students at Falmouth University. Under our art direction, students brought subjects to life using photographs, pencil and even plasticine.
Telling a story
To assist the site’s many contributors when writing its 200+ articles, we created a short, user-friendly writing guide. This encompassed a Cornwall For Ever! tone of voice and key style considerations to ensure consistency and accessibility across the content. All articles were passed to our content team and edited before being added to the website’s content management system.
In addition to editing, we also researched and wrote a number of articles, immersing ourselves in the worlds of Cornish mining, Civil War castles, great estates and 18th-century packet ships. By examining historic newspapers, archive documents and eyewitness accounts, we were able to offer a new perspective on key chapters of Cornwall’s story.
With broad appeal and accessibility, the Cornwall For Ever!/Kernow Bys Vyken! website appeals not only to schoolchildren, but also to members of the Cornish diaspora living all over the world. Users visit from the United States, Australia and Canada, where Cornish men and women emigrated during the 19th and 20th centuries. Through this valuable resource, each is able to learn more about a heritage and culture that’s had an enduring global impact, and continues to fascinate today.