Redesign and Build of NHS North West Leadership Academy Website

NHS North West Leadership Academy works with leaders across the north west to empower them to enable better health, care and wellbeing outcomes within the system and across communities. It is a member-led organisation (with over 80 members) established in 2007 and Cynergy have supported them from the very beginning with our full range of strategic communications services to grow and retain their membership for the last 12 years, including having two members of the team seconded across a five year period.

The existing NHS North West Leadership Academy website was developed by Cynergy in 2012 when the landscape and offer was very different to what it is now. Having undergone several iterations since then, it began to struggle to remain fully fit for purpose in its current format by 2017, with the client using many ‘work arounds’ to support their current offer. The NHS North West Leadership Academy therefore expressed the desire to refresh and update the design and functionality of their existing website in order to modernise the look, implement their new brand (designed by Cynergy), improve its offer, make the site fit for purpose and generally enhance the user journey and experience.

Again, we undertook some user research to ensure that we captured the thoughts and feedback of the membership as to what would enhance their experience of the site. We ran some online tests including card sorting and tree testing to establish how they were currently accessing and navigating the information on the site. This also helped us to understand how we could make this process clearer and whether the current language and journey was accessible, as well as gathering general feedback through a survey.

The results suggested that the site, whilst being a valuable resource for members, wasn’t as intuitive as it could be, with users getting lost and frustrated within the content. Users also really wanted to see more interactive and engaging content, as well as a wider range, rather than just a repository of information, which they felt it had become.

In light of this, Cynergy:

  • Updated the overall look and feel of the site, to make it modern and slick, adding more white space and implementing the latest in website design thinking, aligning to the new brand
  • Restructured and condensed the top-level navigation from eleven to five headings to make the site more manageable and user friendly (including renaming these sections to be more accessible to the end user)
  • Removed scrolling content to help focus the user and ensure that key and important content isn’t missed
  • Reworked and streamlined the ‘Discover’ section to create top level themes to house all offers and information into one, easy-to-navigate area, enabling the user to tailor the content to their needs
  • Expanded the range of content by adding in features such as news, videos, podcasts and resources into the ‘Discover’ section
  • Added a forum to make the site more interactive and engaging to members and open up discussion with them about current needs/challenges as well as enable the NHS North West Leadership Academy to lead discussions on the latest developments in leadership, positioning them as the thought leaders of the region.


As the team had been using the existing CMS built in Drupal for a number of years and were familiar with using and updating it, it was agreed to stay with this platform and work with the existing framework of the site to maximise investment and value for money. Plus, as Cynergy had built the site initially and had hosted and maintained the platform, it was in good condition which therefore supported this decision.

Following the outcome of the user testing process, Cynergy then worked closely with the NHS North West Leadership Academy team to create the new architecture of the site and pull together a set of wireframes which were then tested and approved. The brand was then overlaid in a set of designs to show the final site, as well as a set of mobile designs to visualise how the site would transpose to mobile and tablet devices and therefore be fully responsive for members who we know access the information in various formats.

The site was developed on a test platform away from the main website to ensure that there was no disruption to service and members throughout this process. Once approved, we switched hosting over, being careful to do this at the end of the week, monitoring it over the weekend to make sure that the launch at the beginning of the following week was as seamless as possible.

Following the launch of the site there was a 33% reduction in the bounce rate within the first month. In addition to this, since the development of the initial platform we undertook in 2012, the average amount of users across the site doubled from 800 to 1600 upon launch of the refreshed site in 2018. 

You can view the website at:

We have a great partnership with Cynergy and during this project (redevelopment of the website) their strongest asset was their ability to interpret ideas and desires into tangible operating functions. They took a fluid, flexible and adaptable approach to working with us, allowing us time to revisit and review our original objectives. The team were extremely responsive, and no change or demand was ever too much, ensuring they found a way to accommodate our wishes. We will continue to work with Cynergy and would happily recommend their services to other organisations.

Lorna Green, Programme Manager, NHS North West Leadership Academy