Case study - Macmillan Cancer Support – Wonderland campaign

Pitch support | technical analysis, architecture and solutions | on-going consultancy


Working in conjunction with service design & behavioural change agency Paper, I worked to provide technical consultancy services on a new project for Macmillan Cancer Support – a campaign called Wonderland, which ran throughout Winter 2014.


Quick summary

  • Client: Macmillan Cancer Support/Paper
    Website: (campaign now retired)
    Industry: Charity
    Indication of project time: <1 month + ongoing
  • Skills/work type: Pitch support, technical analysis, architecture and solutions, on-going consultancy.
  • Select project tools/technologies of note:
    • C# ASP.NET
    • Umbraco 7
    • Sage Pay

Macmillan run a number of campaigns yearly, and up to this point had traditionally engaged different agencies to create the websites, leading to a mix of solutions and technologies, coding approaches, and overall standards. Their desire for this project was not only to create a seasonal campaign site, but to use approaches that would enable them to use both the infrastructure and as much of the codebase as possible in future, so as to standardise their future development. As such, we needed to architect something that not only met immediate needs, but which could be used an an effective future platform.

The scope of the project was around creating a destination to capture the mood of simultaneous fundraising events that Macmillan would encourage their supporters to hold in their own homes, for which Paper had come up with the concept of ‘Wonderland’. The website needed to allow supporters to register to hold parties, invite guests to the party via the site, encourage donations from guests to attend as well as one-off payments (for people unable to attend, or money raised on the night), and to encourage participation through leaderboards, badges, incentives, and interaction on the party pages. Additional content was provided in the form of themed recipe, fashion, decoration, playlist, and fundraising articles on the site, including using Spotify and Pinterest.

Gathering the details of their supporters was obviously incredibly important to the charity, so there was a focus on integration with an existing mailing system being used in lieu of a full CRM, and suitable management and reporting tasks needed to be done through a user-friendly CMS interface. Guests were able to register either through a dedicated login, or by using Facebook or Twitter.

Wonderland party page

Wonderland logged in party page –



I initially helped Paper to put together a response to the brief pre-pitch, which involved some initial questions, a high-level architecture and choice of technologies, and rough estimates in order to establish the likely scale of the project. At this point information was pretty scarce, and coming in at a late point meant that I was mainly having to go off information that the team had previously found out.

Discovery & planning

Following a successful pitch, I worked to further investigate individual elements of the project, and to answer questions that the client had around some of the technical choices. Areas looked into included specifics around integration, as there were multiple components in play that needed to be tied together. This was done alongside the initial creative and UX work. Certain elements, such as Text to Give and a shop were investigated and suggestions were presented back, but were not pursued for the current iteration of the website.

We refined our initial high level approach into more tangible specifics, finalised our choices of technologies (see below for buzzwords), and at this point I helped Paper to write some job descriptions and help put the word out about recruiting developers.


Following the initial investigations, I continued to have a presence on the project in various capacities until launch, including attending workshops and client meetings, daily Skype stand-ups and sprint planning meetings, and undertaking a day of QA tests and assorted scrutinising of the site towards the end of the project.

Project details

Our recommendations were based on a combination of requirements from the client team, and our analysis of the best solutions to meet the needs.

The client’s in-house development team were all C#-focused, and we knew that a .NET-based solution was preferable for them. As a charity, they were keen on using open source products where possible, and were open to support, but didn’t want to be tied into expensive proprietary license agreements with third party vendors.

Procurement was a challenge, and for elements such as the payment gateway Macmillan already had existing relationships in place, so rather than being able to recommend a provider, we instead had discussions about the different pros and cons around the approaches that they offered.

Because of the concept of reusability and standards being key, the front-end development involved building using components and a front-end style guide rather than focusing overly on individual pages. The back-end and front-end developers worked alongside the designers and UX team in order to discuss the individual elements.

The final solution involved the following assortment of technologies:

  • C# ASP.NET
  • Umbraco 7
  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk
  • Sage Pay
  • dotmailer
  • Sass
  • AngularJS
  • Facebook Login, Graph API, Spotify widgets
  • Git/GitHub
  • Yeoman

Work summary

  • Slides for pitch deck.
  • High-level architecture and choice of technologies.
  • Initial rough estimates and project scheduling timings.
  • More detailed analysis and solutions for project components and integrations – mailing system API, text to give process/API, payment gateway, future additions such as an online shop etc.
  • Helping with contract developer recruitment (front- and back-end).
  • Review of project backlog.
  • Input into UX work done by UX director – advising on process, implementation etc.
  • QA of site – code review and validation, accessibility, usability, performance, responsive review, CMS checking.
  • Attending weekly sprint planning and daily stand-ups (in person or via Skype) throughout development.
  • Kick off workshop, and client meetings to discuss technical specifics.

Contact me

If you'd like any more information about what I did on this project, or would like to talk to me about doing something similar in the future, please get in touch.