Stanwick Lakes is managed as a social enterprise, Rockingham Forest Trust, an environmental charity, in partnership with East Northamptonshire Council. As their WordPress Design Agency, Brave were approached for the second time since helping with the launch of their first website way back in 2010 with the objective of an overhaul to bring the site to the mobile revolution.

Situated right at the heart of Northamptonshire’s Nene Valley, Stanwick Lakes is a unique 750 acre countryside attraction and nature reserve offering a broad selection of activities aimed at local and national visitors. There’s so much this beautiful location offers, from imaginative play areas, open spaces and paths that walkers, families and cyclists can enjoy through to nature lovers wanting to embrace the countryside in all its natural glory. It truly is a place an explore at leisure or with adventure!


Expertise Delivered

  • Responsive Website Design
  • User Interface
  • User Experience
  • WordPress Website

Business Location

  • Wellingborough, Northamptonshire

Brave’s team wrote 16,223 lines of code; designed 14 templates for use on any page of the site*; added a booking system and included over 200 CMS elements to create a fully responsive website providing clear journeys based on real insights.

User Experience Creation – Where We Focus Our Time

45 %

Planning & Wireframing

25 %

Creative Concepts

30 %

Testing & Refinement

This process excludes the building of the website and CMS.

Website Development

With Stanwick Lakes being located in Northamptonshire, a county with a population of 600k+ and the objective of ensuring they would increase footfall from surrounding and national visitors, the website had a big challenge. The other aspect was the fact they offered such a broad selection of activities, that we needed to make sure it was easy to get to the list quickly and then swifty communicate what was on offer depending on their particular interest. Stanwick Lakes asked us to design and build the new website for all their target audiences. They wanted to encourage more people to engage with this amazing location. The overall look and feel needed updating for a modern audience who would gain access through their mobile devices – the stats were screaming this to us since over 50% of users were visiting the old site through smartphones. The introduction of a powerful bespoke WordPress CMS was essential for content freedom to edit and update news, activity information and instant site messaging. Content that people rely on when visiting a venue which had the potential of keeping you occupied for an entire day!

Audience Understanding

We all think we understand our audience and we probably have a good idea of what motivates them, delights them and gets them interacting. But without really scrutinised how they interact with your website experience leaves you in the dark and it becomes a guessing game. Having more intelligence and insights gathering can be a game changer, and seeing the website through their eyes can unearth little idiosyncrasies and usability issues, which if dealt with right from the start, before planning a new website’s structure, can change the way the site is used from launch and beyond.

Understanding the audience of Stanwick Lakes was vital to Brave’s approach with this particular digital project, since we’d previously developed the first incarnation. Being able to scrutinse and scrape back the layers of Google Analytics, Heat-mapping, Live Video Capture and real life Web Focus Groups gave us a strong sound content structure plan before the design stage started.

How we use insights before starting a website build?


At Brave, the process of wireframing helps with the design phase and brings together clients and our web design team to help determine the hierarchy information of webpages. For Stanwick Lakes, this ensured we could plan the arrangement of content and user experience. By developing Wireframes as low fidelity layouts, this helped us with the placement and initial size of specific page elements/CTAs, from conversion areas, to essential site features.

Wireframes help to make sure that each page achieves the goals set out with the client brief in mind, whether that’s a logical navigation or general layout to key messaging to ensure everything has a purpose and a definitive a logical goal.

Heat Mapping

We had a clear idea of what people were and were not clicking on for individual pages, navigation and calls to action. When given the opportunity and scope, Brave will always review and understand what users want/need, interact with and care about. We established very quickly on Stanwick Lakes what was visually representing their click activity, taps and scrolling behavior. This in turn allowed for a better wireframing process and provided the insights for the content and layout structure.

Heatmapping Categories Covered:

  • Click Maps
  • Movement Heat Maps
  • Scroll Maps

Google Analytics Audit

As a given, it was obvious to scrutinise a detailed analysis of the Google Analytics’ data. Our audit covered how users reach the website, how long they engage with the website, what their exit pages were and how often they convert and reach the website’s main goals.  The following list covered all of the aspects needed which enabled our Technical SEO team to advise our developers on how to technically build the site.

  • Devices to visit the website
  • Browsers to visit the website.
  • Highest visited landing pages.
  • Lowest visited landing pages.
  • Conversion rate per page.
  • Engagement levels both per page and sitewide.
  • Drop off rates and pages.
  • Content conversion optimisation.
  • Site navigation accessibility.
  • Google Ads campaign setup, keyword & audience targets.

Again, we are always working with data/insights rather than guess work.

Website Focus Groups

We decided to conduct our own focus groups to tap into the minds of typical target audiences either local to Northamptonshire or further afield. This led to the development team gaining valuable and critical feedback on the existing original website and raised further wants and wish list points for the new redesign.

Each user was given their own user profile and set a predefined set time to conduct all their activity. Whilst they interacted with the site, live video tracking, click tracking, heatmapping and target geos were recording. This, together with a website questionnaire enabled us to get a real insight into what users did, expected and wanted from a website such as this.

Project Conclusion

The new Stanwick Lakes website fits perfectly, responsively and stands out as a modern and professional engaging website. The content follows the simple cutting edge media available today, and beyond, enabling the generation of new content and new activities without the need for Brave to be involved due to the CMS being clean and intuitive. As an expert WordPress Design Agency, choosing this platform again was a no brainer and one we advocate time and time again. Based on insights, user testing, focus groups and data, Brave has embraced the digital environment this client so needed to connect with and manged to use a strong technical framework to underpin the new website’s strength. This and more has allowed for a welcomed increase in usability and user engagement across the board.

The website received great feedback from Stanwick Lakes, Rockingham Forest Trust, key stakeholders, sponsors and visitors which is recognition for a job well done by everyone involved this end at Brave!

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