Finalist 2022

Medicines Development for Global Health Website

Ethical Design Co. / Locase / Meyer Literary / Medicines Development for Global Health

Medicines Development for Global Health brand and digital refresh project by Ethical Design Co.

Ethical Design Co. was engaged in 2021 to work on content writing and copyediting, UX design and strategy, visual design, illustrations, and web development for the new Medicines Development for Global Health (MDGH) website. MDGH is an independent not-for-profit company dedicated to the development of medicines for neglected diseases in low-middle income countries. They became the first solo not-for-profit company to achieve FDA approval for a novel medicine, moxidectin, the first new treatment for river blindness in 20 years. Supported by their collaborators, MDGH are working towards making a lasting change in the lives of people affected by neglected diseases.

Design Brief:

Ethical Design Co. was engaged to do a complete redesign, copywriting and development project for the MDGH website. As part of the deliverables, we were also asked to work on some secondary brand illustrations and assets while working with the existing logo, typefaces and colour palette.

The aim was to completely refresh the existing look while ensuring the design was still obviously the same brand. Of primary importance was the client's desire to create a website that appeared humble and understated as opposed to fancy and flashy. They did not want the design to distract from the good work they were doing, nor did they want to use the new website to 'show off'. They want their work and the information and resources they are providing to speak for itself, without overshadowing the work that other organisations are doing in the space.


This project was developed by:

Design Process

Discovery: One of our primary objectives during the discovery phase was to understand each of the audience groups that MDGH work with and ensure the new design would address each of their individual needs. Our copywriter and lead designer conducted interviews with key team members and developed some audience personas to help us with our user experience design process.

UX design, wireframe prototype and content development: We then developed a sitemap and some interactive wireframes of the full website in order to explore page navigation and user flow. We assessed old website analytics and agreed on the best approach to engage with intended web traffic. This allowed our copywriter and the client to put together a copy manuscript for each of the pages of the website.

Visual design phase: We worked on concept designs for the website home page and then once one was selected by the client, we designed static mock ups of every page of the website using Adobe XD, iterating until everyone was in agreement on the approach.

Development: We selected Webflow for the development of this project as we felt it was important to create a website that worked well as an interactive brochure; focusing on beautiful, clean transitions to display the content. As the website did not require complex functionality beyond some filtered custom post types, we wanted to use a CMS that was simple for the client to use and update.

Result: The design team met the design brief and exceeded all expectations. MDGH received rave reviews from all stakeholders on the new website and Ethical Design Co. won two Indigo Design Awards for the project (including Gold in the Design for Social Change category).

Design Excellence

For the new MDGH website, we factored user experience into every step of the design process. This started with ensuring we understood the design brief and user groups thoroughly, and then using our creative director's expertise in design anthropology to consider the design from a human perspective. Some of the processes we carried out in order to achieve design excellence included:

  • A co-design process that brought in experts from various disciplines to make design decisions together as a team. On our side this included a writer, designer, developer, illustrator and project manager. On the client side this included the CEO, COO, a project team lead for the medicine development, 2 x marketing team members and the business development manager.
  • A solid and agile design process that allowed us to iterate on our designs as we went, allowing the whole team a chance to provide their input but with the understanding that we (the experts) would make the final strategy decisions and one representative from MDGH would provide approval.
  • Data analysis and an audit of their old website, which allowed us to strategically develop a new and more effective sitemap and user flow for the new website.
  • Embedding of human-centred design, sustainable design and socially responsible design principles including empathy and ethnographic insight in order to consider the human response to each design element chosen. This included careful selection of non-discriminatory images and images that do not show underprivileged people's faces as we did not want the website to be seen as 'poverty porn'.
  • Strong consideration for accessibility, including the addition of all standard accessibility practices such as alt tags, strong heading hierarchy, clean code, colour contrast and large type.
  • Prototyping using Adobe XD in order to test the navigation and design decisions in context.

Design Innovation

Neglected tropical diseases are predominantly ignored by big pharma as the returns are not as attractive as other medicines. This leaves a huge market gap, but it also means that a non-profit working in this space would need to attract appropriate partners and donors in order to continue to be successful. In addition to this, it was important for MDGH to publicise the information they have on clinical studies so that they show transparency for regulatory bodies.

This meant that the MDGH website had a large range of potential audience groups including:

  • Funders and philanthropists
  • WHO, health ministers and policymakers
  • Current pharma collaborators
  • FDA and regulatory bodies
  • Government
  • Media and general public
  • Jobseekers
  • People who are receiving treatment and their care providers

As these audiences are so varied, we needed to ensure the website information and resources were easy to find and use whether you're a government employee in Melbourne or a doctor in sub-saharan Africa, for example. Some of the things we did to address this included:

  • adding filters on the resources page to filter resources by language;
  • including large CTAs on the home page in French and other large CTAs across the site for easy navigation;
  • clearly separating information about diseases, medicines, the organisation, and the product pipeline so that users can easily find the information they need;
  • added engaging visual elements that would keep attention on the site for time-poor visitors.

Design Impact

The Managing Director of MDGH, Mark Sullivan, won the Victorian Australian of the Year Award in 2019 in recognition of his incredible work in medicine development to date. After this, MDGH began a period of steady growth, attracting many supporters and gaining FDA approval for one of their major products. The website they had no longer reflected the incredible global impact that Mark and his team had, nor did it tell the story that they wanted to tell about the many neglected tropical diseases in low-middle income countries.

When we were engaged to update the website and overall brand language, one of our primary objectives was to understand each of the audiences groups that MDGH work with, and ensure the design would address each of their individual needs in order to have the most impact possible. Ethical Design Co. are a sustainable design agency with a strong Circular Economy ethos. We build sustainability into our practice across all print and digital projects, in addition to working only with clients who work in an ethical sector or business.

MDGH are based in Victoria but are rapidly expanding into a global impact team, with 3 separate Boards for their operations in Australia, UK and USA. As a Victorian non-profit, it was important for MDGH to hire a local Victorian design firm that understands design ethics, social responsibility, global health, sustainability and user centred design. This project perfectly showcases not only the importance of working with local, highly skilled, creatives, but also the importance of hiring design teams and collaborators that put sustainability at the forefront of their practice at all times.

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