Date: July 2018

Created for schoolchildren, the Cornwall For Ever!/Kernow Bys Vyken! website delves into Cornish history and culture in a fun, inspirational way. Across four categories – people, places, history and events – is a wealth of content awaiting discovery: over 200 articles, accompanied by evocative archive images and vibrant illustrations commissioned from students at Falmouth University.

Though the website itself is new, the Cornwall For Ever! story actually began in the year 2000. To mark the millennium, we worked with Cornwall Heritage Trust to produce a book telling Cornwall’s story, which was given to school-aged children. Granted the honour of transforming this into a digital platform, we thought carefully about how to present the wealth of content for an entirely new audience.  

The Cornwall For Ever! book, designed by Nixon Design.

Creating surprise

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.

The wireframes from the UX and web design process of the Cornwall For Ever! website, by Nixon Design.
Three pages from the Cornwall For Ever! website designed by Nixon, on mobile device.

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.

The homepage from the Cornwall For Ever! website by Nixon Design, mocked up on tablet.
The history page from the Cornwall For Ever! website by Nixon Design, mocked up on tablet.
The homepage from the Cornwall For Ever! website by Nixon Design, mocked up on mobile.
The navigation menu from the Cornwall For Ever! website by Nixon Design, mocked up on mobile.
The footer from the Cornwall For Ever! website by Nixon Design, mocked up on mobile.

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.

An illustration of the British Isles with pictures of the Wesley brothers.
A plasticine scene of Cornish and French soldiers shaking hands.
A photo of Emily Hobhouse with an illustrated cloak and a speech bubble.
An illustrated shield, in which is written: Sir Henry Bodrugan, Cornish knight, landowner and politician, 1263-1308.'
A selection of illustrated icons by Nixon Design for the Cornwall For Ever! website.

The result

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.

The desktop homepage from the Cornwall For Ever! website designed by Nixon Design.