Age UK is the country’s largest charity dedicated to helping everyone make the most of later life.
We’ve been working closely with Age UK to help digitally transform their charity, and so we were excited to collaborate in the creation of the new commercial arm, Age Co.
Age Co was conceived as a way to provide carefully-selected products and services in partnership with selected third parties. Profits from these commercial activities directly support the charity arm, helping to make a difference to the lives of older people.
To help Age UK achieve their commercial goals, we needed to:
- Create a unified digital experience across a diverse set of digital products and services, ranging from financial services to mobility aids and home adaptation products.
- Implement a new online brand for Age UK products (i.e. Age Co), ensuring that all new designs are consistent and meet accessibility guidelines.
- Ensure compliance with charity law by creating a clear differentiation between charitable and commercial activities.
What we did
With a challenging timetable and a new brand that had to be rolled out across multiple products and services, we took a rapid but robust user-centred design approach:
- We started by running user research to understand how people perceived the charity’s commercial proposition and to test ideas for a new brand that made a clear distinction between the organisation’s charitable and commercial activities.
- Working alongside Age Co and its suppliers, we created initial designs for key journeys and tested them using usability testing with existing and potential end users.
- Our research exposed the very high expectations that people have from both Age UK and ecommerce websites in general. To ensure all future development meets these expectations, we created:
- digital brand guidelines in collaboration with Age Co’s branding agency;
- a design system standardising common components;
- and best practice guidelines for an ecommerce user experience.
- We standardised the experience by introducing a governance model for each of the suppliers to follow. This improved the usability by making a consistent and joined-up journey and a uniform product family.
- We launched an MVP of the new ecommerce site and brand, with the first few suppliers coming along on the platform. This meant that Age Co started seeing some early benefits whilst we were able to assess and fine-tune our guidelines as they were put in practice.
- We then supported, and continue to support, each of the remaining suppliers to re-design and re-skin their purchase flow according to the new brand guidelines. We coordinate the work of multiple technical partners, assuring the quality of their work and acting as a guardian for the new brand.
Feedback on the improved journeys has been very positive, with user research confirming that Age Co is providing a unified and consistent experience across its digital touchpoints.
It’s early days for the Age Co brand, but further iteration and user research is enabling the organisation to grow and scale its digital business.
‘Customers are gradually becoming more familiar with Age Co as a separate but related entity to Age UK’, explains Age UK’s marketing director Michael Cutbill.
‘Expectations of Age Co’s quality will be high since the brand has such a strong association with Age UK, but the launch of the Age Co brand will be key to raising awareness of our commercial activities going forward’.