The University of Bath’s Tobacco Control Research Group is a leading partner of STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products) a global tobacco industry watchdog, combatting efforts by the tobacco industry to evade regulation and subvert tobacco cessation public health initiatives. Central to these efforts is Tobacco Tactics, a world-leading database of research on tobacco industry activity to obstruct anti-tobacco policies.
On average, nearly 13.5 million journalists, public health experts, organizations, and politicians from all over the world view Tobacco Tactics every year, with top pages peaking at 60,000 daily views.
Blue State partnered with STOP to help redesign this aging platform and integrate it with their global tobacco industry watchdog website, ExposeTobacco.org. STOP needed a new, functional hub to house research on key industry players, organizations, allies, and techniques in the tobacco industry. Blue State led a group of four STOP partner organizations through the project — from initial CMS selection and technical discovery through design, development, and launch.
From aging to atomic
We created a visual brand identity and website that was rooted in Tobacco Tactics’ research expertise and clean aesthetic, yet flexible enough to accommodate future brand evolution. The new visual identity complements Expose Tobacco, while reflecting the University of Bath’s brand and role in driving this work.
The previous site, developed a decade ago, employed default styling of the legacy CMS and needed an intentional design process to advance STOP’s strategic objectives. We developed a vibrant and engaging identity that utilized a new typographic system to span across all of their future communications.
Using an atomic design approach, we were able to help build a flexible design system of reusable components that facilitates future content creation and site development.
The new website is clean, open, and readable. Users can navigate intuitively through 300+ content categories to learn more about the tobacco industry’s vast efforts to undermine health policy. We also overhauled the user experience by putting search front and center. Thanks to the new site taxonomy, researchers can now find the most relevant information quickly and intuitively. The new federated search allows content to be shared automatically on STOP’s main site, Expose Tobacco, creating synergy between the two sites.
We published a page on a particular issue which then got media coverage and have had 17,000 unique page views on it — which is far in excess of what we would have normally. The visibility and accessibility of the site is key in those numbers.”
Phil Chamberlain, STOP
The power of a wiki on WordPress
Wikis have advantages and disadvantages. Wikis can be great for creating easy-to-set-up searchable repositories of information with multiple contributors. Wikis are also lightweight in nature which is important for access in low bandwidth contexts. An increasing proportion of tobacco deaths are now found in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where resources are typically scarce and resources like Tobacco Tactics are even more essential.
As STOP’s ambitions grew for the website, the site ran into some of the limitations of a wiki, such as the ability to import data from other sources and add on new features. The old site was text heavy and didn’t allow for much use of images (static, animated, or data visualisations) which users expect and encourage sharing.
We recommended STOP leverage the Helpie plugin to preserve the benefits of using a wiki (transparency and accountability of documents) while using WordPress as the CMS for improved scalability and customization. Building the wiki on WordPress meant we could leverage out-of-the-box tools to add functionality such as data visualizations cost effectively.
Smart, technical planning provides transparency and security while also maintaining simplicity and extendability.