Introducing Reading Room: a trusted digital partner


Last year, Reading Room became the latest company to join the Idox group. Reading Room is an award-winning digital consultancy with an international reputation for innovative strategic consultancy, design, and technical delivery.

The experienced team, based in London, Manchester and Glasgow, blend the best design and technical expertise with insights from behavioural science and psychology to deliver highly effective solutions. For public and private sector organisations looking for help to reach their full digital potential, Reading Room is a tried and trusted digital partner.

Diverse clients … diverse needs … diverse digital solutions

  • NHS Lambeth Federations : Reading Room supported the organisation to transform their business via a digital strategy to encourage more people to interact with their surgeries online and establish trust. New digital features, including digital triage of symptoms and conditions, tools to support online appointments with a GP, and a social media campaign all encouraged behavioural change.
  • Durham at War : In 2014, Reading Room developed an interactive online presence for the Durham at War project, which tells the story of County Durham and its people during the First World War. Managed by the archive, museum and archaeology services at Durham County Council, the resource allows members of the public to upload and share their memories and reflections. Reading Room were also responsible for a striking brand identity for the project, based on a First World War poppy from France that was sent home by a soldier from County Durham.


  • Victim Support : Reading Room worked with a specialist young people’s research company to explore the questions and fears of children who are required to give evidence in court cases. Following in-depth audience co-creation sessions, an innovative online interactive courtroom now familiarises young witnesses with the court system and guides them through what to expect when giving evidence.
  • Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) : Reading Room supported OCC in presenting their work in a way that appealed to both adults and children, and addressed some sensitive subject areas. The result was colourful and clear web pages that covered the range of services provided by the organisation.


  • Australian Government, Department of Communications : Reading Room’s online version of the Australian Department of Communications 2015 annual report set a visually rich, new benchmark in the way government agencies present complex information.
  • London Councils : The organisation represents London’s 32 borough councils and the City of London and wanted a new website that allowed users easy access to information about services. Reading Room worked with London Councils to create an intuitive website as well as a simplified Content Management System.
  • National Archives : Reading Room partnered with the National Archives on a digital resource to help children understand the significance of the Magna Carta. Activity focused on the idea of a ‘Chronicle’ which the children write as they move through chronological chapters featuring original videos, maps and other digital assets from the National Archives. Children can earn badges and points by answering questions about what they’ve learned in the chapters and receive instant feedback. The resource helped mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John at Runnymede.

Reading Room has also provided digital consultancy to support many other clients, including Visit England, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Skoda and West Yorkshire Police.

Award-winning digital consultancy

The expertise and client-focus of the Reading Room team has led to some great accolades for the company:

  • Top recommended digital agency – Recommended Agency Register 2015
  • Best in Web Design & Web Development – Recommended Agency Register Digital Awards 2015
  • Ranked number 1 for digital design services in the Marketing Week Independent Agency Reputation Survey
  • Top 5 Marcomms Agency – B2B Marketing Magazine UK Agency League Table 2015
  • Top 10 for customer satisfaction – The Drum 2015 independent agency census.

Reading Room is also part of the UK government’s G-Cloud framework, which provides an online marketplace where public sector bodies can buy cloud based services. There are now over 100 software solutions and consultancy services across Reading Room and the wider Idox group on the marketplace – helping to deliver a simpler, clearer and faster way for public sector bodies to buy what they need from the group’s offerings.

Reading Room are especially proud that in January of this year, their development of the Magna Carta educational resource for the National Archives won the British Educational Training and Technology Award for Free Digital Content/Open Educational Resources. And in March the Magna Carta resource was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the MEDEA awards for “exceptional innovation in pedagogic or technical design.”

magna carta

Find out more about Reading Room’s work, or get in touch with the team.

Our blog has also featured Reading Room in previous posts:

What you need to know about web design trends in 2016

Reading Room Image

By Matt Fox, Digital Project Consultant, Reading Room

It’s starting to feel like spring again, so if you’re thinking of spring cleaning your website and making sure it’s achieving what you need, here’s our guide to what we see as being big in web design this year.

The visual effect

More and more clients we speak to aren’t satisfied with their websites just being searchable sets of text-based information. Their sites need to work harder for them as brand experiences and as tools to convey practical detail to their users – and both are improved by the effective and creative use of visual assets.

Whether it’s a video homepage, scrolling, Snowfall-style narratives packed with photography, illustration and animation, or interactive 3D models on product pages; imagery is going to win out over words every time. What this will mean is that photo and video shoots, or commissioning of illustration and motion graphics, will become a standard part of any web project. Sophisticated content and brilliantly constructed functionality working together will let the web fulfil its potential for organisations.

Substance over style

Having said that, you have to remember that substance wins out over style for users of digital platforms. As we become more comfortable with the fancy new frameworks available to web developers, the 2016 online user has become bored of unnecessary animation and 3D effects. If it helps your business message and is user friendly then that’s fine, but we are seeing web design come around full circle and concentrate on the message being conveyed.

We have clients ditching carousels, stripping back accordion lists and going minimal on superfluous interaction effects. This is all in the name of boosting usability and performance – especially for mobile devices. Mobile is still on the up and, by now, impossible to ignore. There is no room for fluffy embellishments anymore – users want information and they want it fast and fuss-free.

Pattern libraries

Web design is no longer about creating static layouts and page templates. To keep up with rapidly expanding businesses and the growing umbrella of sub-brands they need to accommodate, websites (or platforms, more appropriately) need to be flexible. More and more elements are now being created as part of a Pattern Library. This is a collection of repeating blocks that make up a page and allow for a consistent roll-out of content across a digital platform. This way of working has also been described as ‘Atomic Design’.

Once brand guidelines have been lifted into a digital styleguide, one can prepare all the code for the different elements that have been designed, so then they are easily implemented in any situation. You don’t need to tell people the rules any more – they are automatically implemented and thought through in advance. Pattern libraries can be used as frameworks for new web templates or elements, and any other design going forward.

Data-driven decisionmaking

Data is everywhere. With wider trends like wearables, home automation and the overarching ‘quantified self’ starting to take over, we are drowning in numbers. This year, more than ever, is all about tapping into the data available to us to make incremental improvements to our respective platforms and/or services.

This means targeting our efforts using analytics and phasing continuous improvement programmes through prioritisation. This is surging in popularity due to both opportunity (the data is there for the taking) and necessity. Project budgets are ever tighter, so prioritising scope empirically and focusing spend is a very prudent approach.

Making personalisation count

2016 has brought with it the challenge of more discerning digital consumers than ever, all with different needs and motivations. One-size-fits-all web strategy is beginning to run its course and delivering a personalised experience to their audience is on the minds of many of our clients.

Personalisation – the art of adapting page content to suit a particular user – is one thing, but we need to understand the whole picture before we get to that stage. It’s the ‘who, what, where, why, when’ that counts when attempting to personalise your digital platform. Up until now, a lot of people have been dipping their toes in the personalisation pond but it’s time to step back and think, ultimately, about the key question … ‘what are we really trying to achieve here?’

This year will be about taking that step back and approaching personalisation sensibly. Reflecting the drive to ‘substance over style’ it’s about appropriate use of technologies to meet business needs. We’ll be helping clients answer the questions like ‘Who are my audience segments?’, ‘What will I use to identify them?’, “Where will I provide personalised content?’ and ‘Why will this help our business goals?’.

Conversion over traffic

For years, people have just been concerned about traffic. “We want more traffic!” is often heard ringing through the room when discussing a new website project. In the effort of boosting leads or sales, the go-to strategy has almost always been to increase footfall. Banner ads (boo!) could be to blame. With diabolical click-through rates (of the order of 0.01%), it makes sense to invest in traffic and get a tiny sliver of the huge pie.

But forget about traffic. That conversion rate isn’t getting any better. Your website, Call To Action,or form isn’t going to convert a higher percentage of users just by getting more eyeballs in front of the screen.

2016 is the year of conversion. Traffic is only part of the story. Invest in optimising your conversion rate and you will continue to reap rewards long after your one-off investment.

Reading Room is a digital consultancy that identifies opportunities, creates experiences and builds systems to help clients benefit from technological change. It joined the Idox group of companies in 2015.

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