Manchester Foundation Trust Charity (MFTC) is a charity that raises funds for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, one of the largest NHS trusts in the UK, operating 10 hospitals serving over 790,000 people. MFTC's support enables the Trust to provide exceptional care, access state-of-the-art equipment, and fund medical research projects for better understanding and treatment of illnesses.

The Brief


MFTC needed a new website that encompassed everything they are as a charity. They also wanted to future-proof their digital presence, allowing them to be both flexible and agile.
They came to the table with two sites: the main MFT Charity site, but also a standalone Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity (RMHC) site. They’d already recognised that focusing on attracting donations for individual hospitals was compromising their ability to leverage the full power of their brand. Having an effective acquisition portal and donor development/retention tool for a larger audience was something that they were eager to attain, so they needed a solution that helped them to step up to the challenge. They also needed the new website to retain the playful and bright feel of the RMCH website, as the majority of their donors came via RMCH. This would mean blending the playfulness of RMCH – seen in its green bear mascot – with the more corporate feel of MFTC.

Initial Investigations


MFTC came to us because they wanted an agency that really understood their Charity ethos and would become a long-term partner for them, not just a detached service provider. Their plans included a range of future projects and campaigns, so we were delighted to help them to achieve their vision.
With such a compelling and important goal, we wanted to make sure that we focused our attention on their impact. And not just the impact that they could have, but also the numerous achievements that they had already achieved. A great example of the impact that they’ve already made was the installation of a Helipad at their Oxford Road Campus in 2021. This was a genuinely life-saving project that needed to be more visible! It was our goal to tell a life-affirming story to anyone that visited the new MFTC website, ideally driving donations via patient stories and case studies.   After attending a workshop at their charity HQ, visiting the hospitals they support, and seeing the amazing work that they do first-hand, we were fully inspired to create something unique. We’d spent a day looking around their hospitals and seeing the amazing work that they do, and had taken more than enough photos and notes to fuel our creative design. We then set out to create an online presence for them that truly reflected the personalities behind not only the people who work there, but also the people they help. From our initial workshop, we knew that we needed imagery that was happy, yet moving, and to include a sense of movement that added shape and depth to the new designs, so we set out to make MFTC’s dream site into a reality.
MFTC as a charity had so much personality, great brand assets and a lot of heart, and so our design team worked hard to combine these factors together in a way that funnels visitors to the donation process in a natural way.

First Steps


Our first port of call was to host a UX workshop with their team to establish a sitemap and key design direction. We looked at a range of websites that inspired the MFTC team, assessing things like layout, menus, the quantity of white space, and key functionalities like filtering and animations.
Armed with the insights that the MFTC team gave us, we put together persona documents that drilled down to define their key audience, and the actions that they wanted each site-user to perform. A thorough SEO audit was carried out as well, as we needed to identify the best way to combine their two existing domains into one. Because we were in awe of the amazing work that the MFT charity provides, we were also more than happy to carry out part of their content migrations (from their old WordPress site and their Drupal site) free of charge as part of our department support time.   To make sure that we agreed on design plans that adhered to strict AA guidelines, we began with our usual AA accessibility contrast tests, and then carried out a full range of other accessibility tests too. As part of our processes, we ultimately decided to use tools like Wave and EqualWeb to combat accessibility errors. These allowed us to fix every error during the build stage. We also went one step further by installing a plugin called AccessiBe. We tried out various other plugins, but this was the one that leveraged advanced artificial intelligence to automatically make the resulting site more accessible to people with disabilities. It added a small widget to the site that could be used to select a profile for a specific disability (e.g. visually impaired, ADHD, seizure-prone, etc), enabling site controls that altered text sizing, contrast and more.   We chose SUDS – our proprietary CMS that’s based on WordPress technology – as the best solution for the task at hand as we knew that it would offer a lot of flexibility and future-proof value to MFTC. Using WordPress also made it easier to bake accessibility into the site design, ensuring that users encountered no barriers when accessing the information and using the features on the new website. We were particularly keen to make sure that users with sight issues had a great experience when using the new site, as so many of them offer unwavering support to Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (part of MFTC’s 10 hospital family!).

Building a Solution


Using SUDS, we constructed the new site with industry-leading accessibility in mind, SEO friendly code-structures already built in, and efficiency-focused plugins included. We aimed to make the site light, easy-to-use and always engaging for anyone who uses it.
It’s worth noting that this was the first site we used GSAP on – an industry standard solution for high-performance animations. First, Lottie files were used to create a uniquely-branded loading animation, but then GSAP added movement to the site that revealed content as a user scrolled on a page. The MFTC team didn’t expect us to do this, but we really wanted to pull out all of the stops for them, and they were delighted with the result! We also utilised an Image Background Focus Position plugin to ensure that images were always centred on their key focal points (usually people’s faces) no matter what device was being used to view them.   Another priority of ours was to thoughtfully design the call-to-action messages. We wanted to promote the variety of reasons that potential donors might have for giving (e.g donating in memory, being a part of the MFTC lottery, and more) and cover each reason within our messaging. The balance between performance and design meant that a real collaboration between our design and development teams was needed, and they worked together brilliantly to ensure the best of both worlds.
Mobile mock ups_crop

Providing the Tools for Self-Management


To allow the MFTC team to be self-sufficient when creating new pages, adding new content and promoting themselves, we made sure that they had a full library of blocks and layouts at their disposal.
Our SUDS framework allows MFTC users to create bespoke-looking pages themselves by customising the layout with the blocks that we build for them, making it easy to add the content in a format that they like. They can also choose which blocks they want to use on each page and in what order. On top of that, they can freely edit the colour of the background and text, the direction of the background slant, and more on each of their blocks.

The Goals


The client had really clear aims in mind when it came to performance:
  • Increase donations and other conversions such as event sign ups and volunteers.
  • Increase return visits.
  • Attract new traffic.
  • Boost affiliation to the MFTC brand.


On launch, their site’s desktop Performance score soared from 40 to 80 on Google Lighthouse: a defining metric when it comes to reviewing how well-built your site is. However, we didn’t stop there. We continuously work on improvements for our SUDS sites, and after launch we were able to get their Performance score even higher, maxing out at 96 on desktop, and 75 on mobile. The Best Practice score also climbed from 80 to 100.



Growth in year-on-year users skyrocketed to over 400%, giving more eyes on the important work that MFTC does. As an end result, their online presence was well and truly freshened up.

The Results

After their new website had bedded in, we saw the following results:

Increase in Users


Increase in Performance


Increase in Best Practices

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