ARENA – website design and development

CASE STUDY: Utilising UX research to re-develop the existing ARENA website.

Ellis Jones  •  Tuesday March 6, 2018
Digital  •  Energy & environment


The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) aims to accelerate Australia’s shift to a renewable future. It does this by funding technology and business innovation in the sector – and sharing the details, data and outcomes from these projects so sector specialists can gain knowledge from each endeavour it supports.

to researchers, developers and businesses.


The Australian Government’s renewable energy agency, ARENA, must engage with a wide range of organisations to deliver on its mission: to accelerate Australia’s shift to a renewable future. An up-to-date, responsive, website is pivotal as a platform for people to find out about its grants, to share knowledge and to understand more about the role of renewable energy within Australia. Having defined the desired user experiences (UX) for ARENA’s unique and highly divergent user groups – our job was to design and build a website that catered to both user and organisational goals, delivering a positive experience to priority audiences seeking funding or seeking knowledge, and channeling the general public – that made up 50% of site visitors – directly to the content that answered their primary question: what is renewable energy?


Through our research into the ARENA website’s user experience (UX) we uncovered a number of important remedies to be made, supported by qualitative and quantitative data. Site navigation, search functionality, clarity on ARENA’s mission, achievements and investment priorities, all required improvement. A content rich site, comprising 600+ web pages, redevelopment of the platform needed to enable its users to reach the exact product they were seeking, quickly and easily. Contemporary design, intuitive to users on desktop and responsive to mobile was also an urgent and apparent requirement.

Website design

The existing theme of the website was clean, however page length was limited and colour palettes were under-utilised. And while shapes, infographics and visual devices had been incorporated, these were not always used to greatest effect to aid user experience of the site, and understanding of ARENA.

Enhancing the website’s ability to showcase ARENA’s work, visually, and to signpost pathways for users was fundamental to the new site’s design. With the introduction of contrasting colours from ARENA’s colour palette, the revised design was able to draw attention to headings and calls-to-action. A stronger use of imagery and graphics throughout all page templates enabled ARENA to make productive use of its extensive, existing image library – showing rather than telling – the variety of outcomes the organisation supports. The resulting site design plainly showcases ARENA’s achievements, as well as providing defined user pathways for people seeking funding and knowledge – the core functions ARENA is mandated to deliver and the main reasons users seek to engage with the agency.

To guide the user journey, clearly and purposefully, we suggested the following for the new site and created core page templates, within an existing brand identity.

  • Ensure business/website objectives are clear on each page; limiting multiple goals on individual pages
  • Arrange content on new ARENA site web pages with reduced text, more graphics and imagery
  • Ensure value proposition is clear on new ARENA site homepage, footer and ‘About’ page
  • Adjust colour palette of call-to-action buttons to draw attention

Site architecture and content hierarchy

Existing website architecture did not provide users with the ‘full picture’ upon entering the site. Ellis Jones suggested a fixed, deep navigation style header that displays the full range of page titles; website architecture and content hierarchy that is simplified to provide clearer pathways to information; and page titles streamlined to better describe page contents, to improve SEO. Based on user demand, and an understanding of their search needs, we also implemented a high functioning search feature enabling use of simple filters to quickly navigate catalogs of projects and reports ways meaningful to users.

Website migration and testing
Following an agreed upon website architecture and update of web copy, core page templates and imagery, we configured the content management system (CMS) and developed a desktop and mobile site that enhanced search functionality and mapped information to the user experience. While new landing page content was produced and edited by Ellis Jones, the site’s launch further required the migration of ARENA’s several hundred individual product pages and knowledge reports, whose significant revision was outside the scope of the current project. Where possible content migration was automated via script, with remaining upload of links and images delivered seamlessly to ensure continuity and no offline time for ARENA.

Once the stating site was complete we facilitated testing among internal stakeholders, devising a series of tasks based on user personas. Testers completed the task over a period of one week, across a range of website browsers. Experience with the usability of the website informed minor edits and design revisions, implemented prior to launch, with further out of scope site improvements cataloged for staged upgrades over time, to continuously improve the website based on accrued user insights.


Ellis Jones delivered ARENA’s site architecture, design and functionality, in a way that combines organisational objectives with user needs, based on UX findings.

The result is a site structure that singles-out key goals and pathways, as well as a offering a fresh visual style. Created within existing brand guidelines, page layouts apply images and photography to showcase what ARENA is all about, what it has achieved and what it has to offer.

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