Revamping the Scienceblog for CRUK

Last week saw the launch of another Manifesto Digital project: the new Cancer Research UK Scienceblog.

This was part of a larger project at CRUK to bring together all their various websites into a cohesive, uniformly designed whole which adheres to the charity’s strict brand guidelines and provides a winning user experience.

The Challenge

Over a period of time Cancer Research UK had been moving its website, along with several microsites which sit on subdomains of cancerresearchuk.org over to a spiffily designed Drupal platform:


The Scienceblog though posed something of a problem: the site was making use of WordPress as a blogging platform. It looked like this:


Because of its ease of use, and to avoid disrupting the managers and contributors to the blog, CRUK wanted to keep the WordPress platform.

At the same time they needed the Scienceblog to sit comfortably within the new design scheme without causing any jarring clashes when moving between the two.

Manifesto were therefore brought in to turn a design provided by CRUK into a WordPress implementation which provided the functionality required for a high-end science blog at the forefront of the fight against cancer.

The Response

We took the HTML and CSS provided by Cancer Research UK and created a mobile responsive WordPress theme that seamlessly integrated with the new CRUK web assets.


We also built some nifty logic to automatically re-size images from old posts to fit the new templates.


Lessons Learned

One important finding we made when moving the site over to its staging environment was that the commonly used Jetpack plugin – which was allowing CRUK to use some WordPress.com features like social network integration and an upgraded comment system – didn’t behave as expected. In fact it caused all kinds of crazy errors.

It seems this plugin only works in a live environment – not a test environment – so extra testing and vigilance is required when rolling out. One to watch out for.

The Future

WordPress is a platform in constant flux – updates to the software (necessary to keep the platform secure) can cause unforeseen conflicts with installed plugins and no theme is entirely future-proof.

We’ll be providing support to Cancer Research UK in the near future to make sure the tireless bloggers at the UK’s largest cancer charity aren’t hamstrung by any problems with their blogging software.

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