Making complex data accessible and engaging


The European Social Survey (ESS) data are used to inform the public, researchers, academics and policy-makers, and to shape governmental policy across the UK and Europe.


City University is a highly regarded centre of learning located in the heart of London and home to a wide range of research endeavours that have a global impact – including the European Social Survey (ESS) a unique and award-winning bi-annual survey, which has gathered and assessed socio-economic data and behavioural trends across Europe since 2001.

In 2022 City University selected Blackwood to design a brand-new website to house decades of data gathered from the ESS.

We knew we would need to migrate existing content seamlessly to the new site, integrating the new audience-facing design with the technical systems underpinning the site’s functionality. The website had to include 28 country-specific pages in 34 local languages.


Key to the new site’s success would be its ability to meet the information needs of its diverse audiences.

A main objective was to make the site as user-friendly and accessible as possible, creating a website design which would present a wealth of complex data to academic and professional audiences, and the wider public, in a way that was intuitive, engaging and easy to navigate.

Guided by the goal of accessibility, our new website design was bold, bright and clean, with clear signposting to data and information, and an intuitive navigation. We created bespoke illustrations to bring the data to life, and worked within a simple colour palette which would enhance and highlight the richness of data within the portal.

Blackwood delivered our amazing new website to the specifications requested, and we are incredibly thankful for their efforts. They helped us every step of the way, from design to implementation - including the content migration, comprehensive testing, launch and support, including superb instructions on how to use the new content management system.

Stefan Swift,
Head of Communications
European Social Survey ERIC


Our deep understanding of the ESS and its audiences meant that we could deliver optimal functionality for the user, while reflecting the ESS branding guidelines, and also meet GDPR requirements and WCAG 2.1 standards for accessibility.

Before the new site was launched, we carried out extensive testing to ensure it was functioning smoothly and delivering what the client and their audiences needed. Only then were we ready to ‘flip the switch’ and unveil the new updated ESS site to users around the world.