The discovery phase ran between July and October 2023 and encompassed extensive research, thorough analysis, as well as active involvement with both stakeholders and users. This multifaceted approach aimed to achieve a holistic grasp of the existing website, corporate objectives, long-term vision, and user requirements. It serves as the bedrock for a successful transformation and provides a well-defined path for further, more detailed exploration in the upcoming design phase.

Key findings

  1. The Imperial website has devolved over time and grown excessively complex. It fails to reflect the true essence of the world changing institution and struggles to effectively cater to a diverse audience.   
  2. Users currently face challenges in finding relevant information and the website’s design and usability fall short of Imperial’s impressive global status.   
  3. A thorough review of the current website identified areas of improvement, including navigational challenges and a vast and sprawling information architecture. The website replicates the organisational structure and there is an onus on the user to understand the organisation first before being able to successfully navigate the website.   
  4. In ‘trying to be everything to everyone’ the website is missing the mark in terms of delivering the best user experience for each user needs. There is a fantastic opportunity to better represent Imperial’s incredible achievements, stories, people, and community. The challenge lies with presenting the intangible.   
  5. The level of effort made to date to improve and streamline the set up and experience should not be overlooked. There are elements that can be repurposed and built on to deliver an exceptional experience.

Our research covered

  • Ten workshops, with over 100 people from key business areas attending
  • 17 one-to-one interviews with key stakeholders spanning across the organisation.
  • Several staff surveys
  • Speaking to six current students and four alumni from a range of backgrounds in one-to-one interviews
  • Onsite research activities, including a tree testing exercise to see how people navigate the website, among others.
  • Card sorting activity to understand how people group information and reviewing results from a website intercept survey and other data captured onsite.
  • Competitive analysis - From our research and previous experience in this sector universities struggle with very similar challenges. We are yet to find an example of a perfectly executed navigation and information architecture. There is an opportunity to really set Imperial apart with some confident and bold decisions.

We achieved the following outputs


The website redesign will create a sector-leading, visually compelling, and user-centric platform that promotes the institution's global excellence in STEMB education and research.  

It will effectively engage key audiences, optimise commercial opportunities, improve the user experience, and reflect Imperial’s values, while adhering to the latest standards in mobile-friendly design, SEO optimisation, and performance.  

Guiding principles

These research-informed guiding principles help to provide clarity, align goals, allow for versatility, and communicate ideas at scale.

  • Practical. Focused on function and ease of use with rock solid foundations.
  • Emotive. Capturing attention to effectively convey the intangible aspects of Imperial’s values, culture, people, and stories.
  • Connected. Demonstrating a thriving ecosystem and everything being within reach.

These will be continually referenced as part of our next phase which is the design phase, set to launch on 6 November.