When fellow agency, Mark Boulton Design (MBD) were acquired by Monotype, Global Witness, were in the early stages of working with them on their site redevelopment. They were forced to go looking for a new digital agency. Happily, they chose Torchbox.

That suited us. Global Witness are a fantastic organisation. They do undercover, investigative journalism into some of the dodgiest companies and regimes in the world. And they campaign to change the system and to lift the resource curse that condemns millions of people to lives of poverty and violence. Just the sort of thing that we want to help with.

Global Witness Homepage

Global Witness homepage


First stop, finish the discovery. We built on the MBD audience research by running a user modelling workshop where we:

  • Broke down the audiences into seventeen types (including groups from developing countries who weren’t really represented in the three crystallised personas)
  • Developed quick personas for each audience type
  • Identified triggers and contexts for visits for each quick persona
  • Identified needs for each persona
  • Mapped the possible actions that each persona might want to complete on that visit [this connects the user objectives with an organisations objectives]

Armed with what we had learnt from this session, we could ground our creative ideas in the real needs of the audiences and it helped Global Witness to believe in the process. Further sessions on digital principles, objectives, creative positioning and scoping followed.

"Torchbox delivered on a demanding and wide-ranging brief, which included the need to improve our storytelling abilities at the same time as migrate a huge archive of complex and varied material across from our old site."

– Oliver Courtney, Senior Campaigns and Communications Advisor, Global Witness


Gradually, we honed a vision for the site:

  • It needed to grab you, particularly the non-specialist audiences. It had to be more like an online magazine than an academic research repository.
  • We didn’t want to hide the fact that there is loads of depth to the content, so we needed a sense of layering of content: easy to absorb stuff first with quick access to the detail and archives.
  • The current, key campaigns had to really stand out, setting the current agenda .
  • We needed to extend visit length.
  • While they started using Shorthand on our recommendation to bring their stories to life, we wanted to be able to make great report pages without needing to use Shorthand.
  • Previously they had often built report and campaign pages as static micro-sites, as their main site wasn't flexible enough. We wanted to give them the flexibility and creative power within the CMS so that they didn't have to create additional static sites.

"Our new website is a central part of our plans for the future, and we are very pleased with its performance so far. Throughout the process Torchbox have been highly professional and enjoyable to work with, and they know their area inside out. We would recommend them highly.”

– Oliver Courtney, Senior Campaigns and Communications Advisor, Global Witness


The result is a revitalised, smart, engaging site. The incredible content shines through, and it keeps on coming. And the whole site, is enhanced by some neat interaction design. One month after launch we achieved a 230% increase in users of the website, a 50% increase in time on site, a 12% decrease in bounce rate, and a fourfold increase in click throughs via organic Google searches.

Global Witness Website

Global Witness' Conflict Diamonds campaign page

Here are a few stand out elements of what we have done:

  • The striking, ‘drop-up’ navigation emphasises the priority projects.
  • Alongside the promoted content on each subject area, users can use the scrolling left column to dive into the complete archive of content on that subject from detailed reports and press releases selected tweets.
  • Self-retracting menus leave maximum space for dramatic, full screen presentation of the stories
  • Wagtail’s Streamfield allows for dramatic and flexible storytelling
  • Security has had to be a focus - something that’s already been tested by a number of hacking attempts, presumably by people who don’t like what Global Witness are saying about them.

Interested in learning more about Wagtail?

Find out why Wagtail is the CMS of choice for Google, NASA, Oxfam and Amnesty International on our dedicated Wagtail development page.