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Art Gallery

Royal Photographic Society (RPS)

Bringing previously offline creativity to a new, digital audience - and giving in-house content editors control

I have worked on numerous projects (some where I have been assigned to follow through to project build and launch, and some of which where my brief was to lead the discovery phase and hand over for build) where the discovery process was a sizeable task.

I've worked with companies ranging from counselling services to DIY stores to longstanding organisations like museums - the thing that these companies tend to have in common is that they've been previously offline, bricks and mortar businesses - and if they do have a website it's been created out of necessity, with little UXD consideration.

Most of these sites have been created as a 'one off build', by someone external, and generally reflect the internal company structure with little or no research into who the intended user is. On projects like this, the client is often not equipped with the knowledge to make simple site changes themselves.

I love working on these sites because, in the main, these companies have a wealth of fantastic content, potential case studies and imagery - and the potential for very engaged users - they just haven't currently reflected it online!

Step 1; The Royal Photographic Society - the brief

Well, if there was ever a site with the potential for some great imagery, this was it!

My brief was to work with the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) to review their current website (unresponsive and inflexible in terms of templated and the ability to edit), and also to better understand their user base - rapidly moving away from more traditional methods of technology and into digital technology (i.e., Cameras!).

While reviewing their site was part of this project, the crux of it was that their user base had changed quickly and dramatically due to new technology. They also needed the ability to take control of their site content themselves following my involvement.

Before any site work began, I worked with RPS to explain the value of UX and the reason behind committing to a user focussed discovery process that started from scratch in designing a new online solution, rather than simply editing their current website.

    RPS 1.png

    Step 2; The discovery process

    On a project like this, coming in using terms like 'discovery process' or even 'you need to consider UX' wouldn't have helped at all. The company had approached my agency to fix their website - why would they want to pay for a lot of work that didn't change anything on their current pages?

    Explaining the importance of UX can be tricky - but it's a part of the job a genuinely love. I started by interviewing RPS members and staff in person, to find out what they thought the organisation was all about. The accounts were unsurprisingly conflicting based on role and interest.

    I amalgamated this information, and presented it back to the company - showing how the current site structure reflected the internal structure, rather than what users wanted. I involved all in an open discussion, and all agreed.

    RPS had a great list of willing volunteers engaged with their offline brand, so I recruited some of these members, and recruited my own list of non-members who were interested in photography, and organised a day-long card sorting and IA mapping workshop

      Empty office

      Step 3; The workshop

      With 10 attendees (5 members and 5 non members), I led a face-to-face card sorting exercise, with topics and titles taken from the current website, and themes that had been mentioned in the interviews conducted previously.

      Working together, we planned a new IA (published on screen using Axure during the session) and talked through it, agreeing a rough structure for the navigation.


      This conversation also highlighted a lot of new pages we could include, and services RPS already provided that were of value to members, but hadn't previously been included online.

      This gave me a great basis to start comparing the session feedback with the current site data

        RPS 3.jpeg

        Step 4; Qualitative + quantitative data

        The RPS site had only basic tracking enabled (Google analytics) but this was enough, combined with the qualitative data gained from the workshop session and interviews to give a good foundation for what was working and not working on site.


        The business had said their main focus was regional membership, however these sections had one of the highest bounce rates.

        This combined with the user feedback gained highlighted the parts of the site we needed to concentrate on first; rewriting content, making CTAs clearer, and using more inspiring gallery photography from current members.

        I created a new IA, low-fi frames for each page template and component, and online digital brand guidelines (previously a PDF).

        I talked all RPS content editors through how to use these guidelines, and also how to edit and create content in the CMS. They were very happy to have a shiny new site - and control over it!

          RPS 4.png


          The RPS project left the business with a far better understanding of how their users, potential users and different devices use their website, and websites in general!

          By setting up CMS templates their team could work with to assign components right for the page and content (marked up correctly in the CMS with heading tags, alt text fields and on brand assigned fonts and stylings).

          The internal team now have the freedom to edit their own content (with limitations that mean SEO, accessibility and brand elements are consistent), without having to involve development teams externally for day-to-day website management.

          Programs and approach

          • IA creation in Axure

          • Prototype in Axure

          • Workshops with end users and stakeholders

          • Continuous involvement with SEO managers

          • Close work with design and development teams

          • Build managed through Team Foundation Server in agile sprints


          'Natalie joined Felinesoft as a UX consultant. She arranged and facilitated engaging workshops with end users and stakeholders for various not-for-profit companies, scripted and conducted individual user interviews, and presented to clients clearly and confidently, keeping everyone engaged and involved along the way.


          She also worked closely with design and dev teams, making sure everyone was on the same page. A pleasure to work with'.


          Projects; BACP (site and CPD hub), HFMA (news app and site)

          Ralph Johnson, MD - Felinesoft

          Let’s chat!
          If you would like to talk about any of the projects mentioned here, or any other projects I've worked on, please feel free to get in touch. I'd love to hear more about the opportunities you have in store!

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