MS Register Website - Tablet

Since redeveloping the identity, clearly articulating the reasons to participate and improving the accessibility of the website, participation in the study has increased by more than 30%.

Background

The MS Register is a collaboration between Swansea University and the UK MS Society. It is a ground-breaking study designed to develop an understanding of living with MS in the UK in order to improve care and influence policy. The study is open to people in the UK over 18 who have been diagnosed with MS, and consists of an online survey and a pilot clinical study across five UK cities.

The first study to draw data from such a wide range of sources, the MS Register aims to make discoveries that will fuel campaigns for fair and relevant policy and improved healthcare for people living with MS.

The MS Register’s primary objective was to achieve a membership of 20,000 by 2013 and to ensure that visitors returned to the online survey on a regular basis. Swansea University got in touch with the James Good team at the beginning of 2012 to see how we could help. 

Objective

To achieve its objectives, the MS Register had to recruit significant numbers of long term respondents. Workinvg in partnership with the MS Society, the MS Register received some high profile publicity following its launch in 2010, which resulted in 7,000 sign-ups in the first six months of the study.

Despite a strong start, it soon became apparent that existing respondents were not returning, and that the MS Register was failing to attract further new users. There was also a worrying lack of uptake amongst under 20s and male representatives.

The usability of the online survey was also in question, with many respondents reporting difficulties in completing the questionnaires. 

Solution

Through our meetings with the MS Register team and discussions around user behaviour, it soon became clear that the problems were a result of a failure to engage their audience. We needed to make the messages stronger and clearer, and work on developing an identity for the MS Register that would enable them to build strong relationships with people with MS.

The first stage of the project was to create a visual identity to appeal to the demographic. To give people the confidence to volunteer their personal information, it was essential to make the MS Register look like the credible and professional body that it is. We also wanted to create a community feel to give users a sense of belonging and shared values, and a desire to join together to share their experiences in order to make a difference.

Without alienating our more mature market, we needed to consider the appeal for a younger audience; the design style needed to be modern, fresh and uplifting.

MS Register Logo

The development of a concept upon which to base our designs was key to creating a meaningful and engaging brand, and as we hit upon the asterisk, we were pretty pleased with ourselves at discovering an existing symbol that implied everything we wanted to say.

An asterisk is used within text to mark an unattested word or phrase – MS is largely undocumented and underrepresented in terms of research and medical knowledge; a situation that the MS Register is seeking to address. The asterisk can also represent access to further information. A fitting symbol to represent the study. The way we’ve positioned the symbol in relation to the type highlights its mathematical connotations, as befits a statistical study.

We selected a bold typeface, offering clarity and easy recognition. The curvature of the lettering gives an air of friendliness and approachability.

The colour palette needed to be very different from the MS Society to visually set the two organisations apart, the first stage in growing awareness of the MS Register.

The combination of a pale grey – which provides a background to present text as clearly as possible, an important consideration when many of our audience experience visual impairment as a result of MS. We’ve applied uplifting teal as an accent colour; it’s bright, visible to visually impaired users, and appealing to both a male and a female audience.

Developing a tone of voice for the MS Register that would emotionally connect with and engage our audience was an integral part of the identity design process. It was vital to deliver strong messages with clarity. To help to make people feel part of a community, the voice had to be friendly and informal, in order to build trust, it had to be knowledgable and reassuring, promoting absolute transparency and data integrity.

Simple language has been used, giving clear instructions to guide cognitively impaired users through the process of registering and completing the series of questionnaires. Key messages repeated across the website. Website content is structured in a way that tells the story of the MS Register, informing and persuading people to get involved.

MS Register Banner Stands

An email newsletter, informational leaflets, posters and banner stands were designed to prepare the MS Register for their appearance at the MS Life show in April.

Every design is a natural extension of the brand identity, with a carefully selected range of people images to encourage identification across the spectrum of the MS Register’s target market.

MS Register Leaflet
MS Register Flyer

Many of our audience suffer from cognitive impairments, so the key objective for our website redesign was the clear presentation of information and the process of completing the series of questionnaires as straightforward as possible.

We designed the website with a single page of text, that readers could either scroll through in its entirety, or jump directly to a section of interest using the conventional navigation.

If you want to encourage people to interact, you have to make it easy for them. Our website design is fully responsive, automatically adapting to a smartphone or tablet display.

MS Register Form

Results

The new identity and website were launched at MS Life, giving the MS Register team the opportunity to gauge the reactions of respondents, and get a first hand look at the ease with which users were able to complete the online survey. 

The launch was a great success. Over the course of the one-day event, the MS Register attracted 250 new users. Existing users were also reengaged, 850 questionnaires were completed.

MS Register has a new lease of life, and with the materials in place to market the study with consistent messages, it is now in a strong position to meet its target of 20,000 participating users. 

Feedback from respondents was extremely positive, with many users commenting on the improved usability, and key stakeholders including the MS Society commenting on the success of the refreshed visual identity.