CML Support

The redesigned CML Support Group site

To mark World CML Awareness Day 2015, Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia Support UK unveiled their redesigned website along with a refreshed visual identity, both of which were developed by Folk Labs.

Following an intensive five-month project to redesign every aspect of their online support community CML Support launched with a fully updated Drupal 7-based content management system and web community, offering vastly-improved online support to their global community of 35,000+ CML Patients, carers and clinical partners.

Back story

CML Support is the UK’s largest patient-led support forum with exclusive focus on people diagnosed with Ph+ Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. It hosts an average of 35,000+ members globally. Originally begun in 1999 by two patients diagnosed with PH+ CML, the current site was launched in April 2000. They provide support, advice and up-to-date information about CML and treatment options. The organisation believes that informed patients can have a tangible impact on their own health, with an enhanced ability to gain access to the most appropriate and effective therapies. They aim to encourage every patient and their care partners to self-educate and take a constructive role in planning their treatment pathway. In the past 15 years, CML has gone from being a serious illness to a chronic condition. Ever-increasing numbers of patients are living longer and need support. But CML is still rare so it’s difficult for patients to meet regularly together and provide mutual support. So the web plays a vital remote support role, keeping everyone in touch. Sadly, their old Drupal 6.0-based site was beginning to show its age. Hard to maintain and manage, it no longer supported the shifting strategic goals of the organisation. It also featured some outdated content and the complex information architecture meant that newly-diagnosed members were not being catered for. And, as a Drupal 6.0-based site, with the upcoming launch of Drupal 8, it was unclear whether security support would be closed.

The old CML Support site homepage

What we did

After running several discovery exercises with the CML Support team, Folk Labs began an audit of existing site content and features. From that we could clearly see a need to completely rebuild their inform­a­tion archi­tec­ture, focusing on the needs of patient users – especially those who had been newly-diagnosed. A lot of the information space around CML is dense clinical and biological information. And, on the old site it was very difficult to navigate. So we designed an extremely simple main menu: CML Facts contains all the detailed biological information about CML, adapted from the charity’s ebook on testing, monitoring and treatment. This is where members can educate themselves on the technical detail of the disease in simple but not patronising terms and discover the most up-to-date treatments and methods for managing the condition. Living offers simple guidance a range of topics which are of importance to anyone wishing to live a fulfilling life with CML – from healthy living, to getting insurance. It explores more general, everyday topics about ways to ensure wellbeing and how to live comfortably with the condition (even including issues like obtaining travel insurance or minimising side effects). Resources lastly contains directories of Clinical Trials, other groups and Organisations, Specialist treatment centres and even templates of questions to bring on oncology visits. Next, we adopted an innovative wire-framing approach, prototyping the wireframes in code using a Jekyll-based style guide system we built ourselves.

The new CML Support home page


The new site provided a lot of new features as well as some enhanced versions of existing features: Discussion forum where registered members can talk openly about their disease or condition, post questions relating to all manner of issues and seek support from their peers Treatment listings describing the various treatments available (branded, generic and experimental) in order to gain an overview of the current treatment landscape News and recently-release research findings listings Events calendar for meetups in the real world (for clinical experts and supporters as well as for the patients themselves) Directory of clinical trials which are currently happening or which are now closed to publish results Map of specialist treatment centres Directory of other organisations which can offer support or other information Listings of useful Videos, Books, Downloadable checklists and other document templates Glossary of useful terms which is linked to any instance of confusing technical terminology anywhere on the site Search – a powerful search function allows members to find any content from anywhere on the site Administration roles and permission levels – to enable different grades of volunteers to help manage the site alongside professional managers

We made the homepage into an overview of most recently added content from across all the other sections, spotlighting the forum and member testimonials in particular. We also drew special attention to the member registration option to encourage visitors to register. Having established a look and feel for the site we started building out the Drupal 7.0 site. Deploying open source content management frameworks like Drupal enable even small charities like CML Support to innovate with best-of-breed digital tools they could otherwise never afford. Since the core strategic function of their site is the forum, we chose Harmony Forum since it offered us flexibility paired with advanced forum management tools. In addition, Cancer Research UK were already using it for their support forum so it came with an impressive pedigree.
The new Harmony-based CML Forum page

What went well

We were especially pleased with the data modelling and structured content we developed for this project, especially in the sections designed to help newly-diagnosed members sort and filter through all the information about treatments and support options open to them. We feel we have built a really solid foundation on which the charity can build a much more usable and scaleable platform for the future. Rather than adding all content to the site as basic content pages, almost all the data is now structured in the database meaning it can be manipulated and displayed in a wide variety of Drupal views.

The new CML Treatments page
A refreshed CML Support brand As we redesigned the site, we really felt that the existing logo was simply not supporting the site’s new tone of voice. So we worked with the CML team to discover the right new look for them, including a logo with more confidence and which better expresses the technical but soft approach the organisation takes. We also developed colour and typographic systems as well as a set of interface components we could use across the whole site.