Captivating audiences, digital transformation


Client focus

  • Public sector


  • CMS
  • Content strategy
  • Governance
  • Integrations
  • Organisational change
  • Research
  • Tech consultancy
  • User centred design
  • UX consultancy

Sift Digital have been instrumental in helping to transform the digital capacity of our organisation. Opening up our content has resulted in more people taking an interest in our work, and reading more pages on our site than ever before. And just as importantly, it has helped to move us from an old, closed model of digital production to one which the whole organisation can share and be a part of.

Olly Arber, Director of Digital Nesta

What was needed

Nesta funds projects that inspire digital creators to be more than digital consumers; that partner social activists with public services; that rethink city parks. They enable some of the most exciting, progressive and important work in the UK, yet their old website did little to showcase any of this.

Our mission was to bring Nesta's great work to life as it evolved, rather than at the end of a project, allowing the general public better access to projects as they progressed. We wanted to develop the website as an open, social environment where employees curate their own content and the website visitors freely comment on Nesta’s work.


What we did

We approached the project in phases and aligned all internal stakeholders behind a commonly shared and understood strategy.

Digital Strategy

We worked with Nesta and their key stakeholders to build consensus and engagement around their new digital model. We helped them to understand the basic principles of digital engagement through:

  • redefining digital processes to align more closely with the overall organisational objectives
  • adapting content production to be more dynamic and shareable
  • changing how social and content strategies integrated

Our digital strategists worked closely with the Nesta team to guide decision-making at each key project milestone. We took an agile and iterative Scrum approach to the project lifecycle, allowing us to refine the solution as the strategy evolved.

User Experience

Making Nesta more friendly and accessible to the wider public was the most important part of this project. Taking a user-centred approach, we:

  • carried out user research on Nesta’s core audience
  • designed a compelling information architecture (IA) that made sense to Nesta’s diverse users and encouraged exploration of the site's rich content
  • created innovative wireframes to drive engagement and demonstrate the depth of projects that Nesta supports
  • brought more ‘personality’ onto the site via staff profiles, staff twitter accounts and staff content pages


Built into an interactive timeline, people can now follow the progress of each initiative, and contribute their own views, ideas and feedback via social media. Information from anywhere can be woven into the timeline by Nesta staff, creating a living, breathing, interactive story.

Moving from a flat, broadcast reporting structure to this highly engaging transmedia narrative is central to the success of Nesta’s new digital presence.


Ensuring the supporting content management system (CMS) was easy and enjoyable to use was a key requirement of the project, as Nesta were opening up the site to allow all staff to publish content and build their own public presence on the site.

The timeline feature was constructed using a number of distinct content types (Tweets, Blogs and Images) which are related to a person or project. The Isotope JavaScript library was then used to display this content chronologically across mobile and desktop views. This approach allowed timelines to be flexible and grow as projects evolved - and of course they are completely content managed by Nesta's team.


    The results

    We helped Nesta to transition from a closed, broadcast digital model to an open, social one, with staff sharing content, ideas and stories. Content is now fresh, accessible, frequently updated and shared. There’s a sense of real time development and shared thinking around projects that was missing before.

    Nesta is a humanised organisation. All staff members are visible and approachable and the barriers to entry for audience interaction have been lowered.

    Since launch, the Nesta site has celebrated:

    • 50% increase in visitors
    • 200% increase in newsletter sign-ups
    • Pageviews have doubled
    • Bounce rate has halved
    • 20% more traffic on social media sites

    We helped Nesta change ‘occurrences’ into adventures, reports into interactive stories, old news into real-time exchanges. They now capture the sparks of interaction and inspiration that make each project special, and share these with a captivated audience.

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