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How understanding user needs helped NIHR improve their online platform

NIHR National Institute for Health Research

The challenge

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) aimed to enhance its Learning for Involvement (L4I) website to facilitate understanding and participation in health and social care research. The project involved improving the website's accessibility and user-friendliness for the public. Additionally, NIHR sought to collaborate on a strategy for the website's future, encompassing its functionality, visibility, marketing, and capacity to deliver valuable information to its audience.

The solution

CDS analysed NIHR's audience, examining several profiles to determine the specific requirements of each type of user. Based on this research, CDS investigated how the audience utilised the L4I website, identifying areas that may have caused confusion or posed difficulties for users. Subsequently, CDS proposed potential solutions to these issues by collaborating with actual users, ensuring that any modifications made to the site would meet the fundamental needs of the audience and facilitate easy and effective usage. 

The result

CDS provided a comprehensive strategy for enhancing the L4I website, supplying substantiated data detailing user requirements to make it more accessible and captivating. With this information, NIHR can ensure that L4I remains user-friendly and motivates individuals to expand their health and social care research knowledge. Additionally, this evidence played a crucial role in shaping NIHR's future vision for the site, guaranteeing that the modifications would align with its users' needs.

At a glance...


  • Healthcare


  • User research and testing required to improve website accessibility.
  • Guided co-development of NIHR website improvement plan.


  • CDS appointed as insight partner.
  • Used discovery research and end-user testing to understand audience’s needs and pain points.


  • CDS provided NIHR with the information needed to confidently guide their future vision.
It was a real pleasure to work with CDS on this project. From the very early stages of submitting the work proposal, the team went to great lengths to understand our needs and expectations. The research undertaken by CDS was great value for money for the organisation, but – more importantly – gave us the evidence needed to confidently set out the website future vision and guide the co-development of the improvement plan. Personally, as project lead, I found it particularly interesting observing the discovery research sessions and being actively involved in the concept development prior to testing. Finally, from my perspective, there was a great working relationship with the CDS team; there was great balance of independent work but also bringing me in at the right stages. This was a useful, important, but also fun project to work with CDS on.”

Silvia Bortoli
Senior Public Involvement Manager, NIHR

Let's work together