Sydney Harbour Trust Federation

Celebrating Sydney's iconic landmarks

  • UX
  • Design
  • Development

Transforming the Harbour Trust online experience

Established by the Federal Government in 1999, the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust protects and manages extraordinary foreshore locations on Sydney Harbour from North Head Sanctuary to Cockatoo Island.

The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust commissioned Cypha to reimagine and transform the user experience for the Sydney Harbour Trust and Cockatoo Island websites.


The challenge was to transform a content heavy website that was difficult to navigate into a a bespoke customer focused experience.

The IA required a complete overhaul to provide a simple and intuitive way to navigate both websites and the multi-site experience needed to be powered by a user friendly, extensible CMS platform.

Government Digital Service Standards and accessibility standards were a key requirement for the transformation, as was the need for a clear colour and font hierarchy to guide users through the sites. 

The websites needed to attract new users to the site, keep them engaged while there and entice them to explore the range of experiences on offer. 

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The following steps were taken for this project;

Research and Personas 

In order to understand how the two new websites should be redesigned we carried out a thorough audit and research phase. This included an analytics audit of the current websites to understand its performance and gain insight into how users were currently engaging with the sites. We were able to follow user journeys to identify the pages that attracted the highest bounce rates and why. Analytics reviews of the website and social channels also assisted in identifying target audience groups. 

Information Architecture

As mentioned above, the information architecture of the site was in need of a major overhaul which would then allow a smooth and logical experience between the Harbour Trust and Cockatoo Island websites. The key consideration in the IA was that the navigation had to work over both websites while being distinctly different for two different purposes. To solve this issue, we decided to navigate by the intent of the user, rather than by location. 

Creative Design

The main goal during the UI stage was to create the feeling of one harmonious, inspirational experience where all current sites, and potential future sites, are interconnected. Large, bold imagery of the Harbour Trust's foreshore locations were used heavily throughout the design, along with clean white space to build emotion and promote the amazing locations.


Umbraco was the CMS platform of choice for these two websites due to its open source capabilities and user friendly management. We took a responsive module based development approach to provide flexibility for self-managed content and future-proofing, this also allowed us to rapidly develop the UI and perform back-end Umbraco CMS integration concurrently. 

Integration with Click Dimensions for emails and list subscription was also carried out as part of the development, as was the creation of dynamic form builder.


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Through detailed audits and research, we provided a complete redevelopment of the UX and IA for both websites to offer the best user experience possible.

Research informed the direction we undertook for the websites' layout and design, with large bold imagery and clear CTAs playing a role in guiding users through the online experience.

An expanded universal mega footer and a clear homepage featuring attractive CTA buttons provided a way for users to navigate by intent rather than location. Consistent use of typography and colour coupled with big, bold imagery of the foreshore locations enhanced the appeal and user experience of both sites.

Cypha designed and developed an intuitive, responsive website for both Harbour Trust & Cockatoo Island with both sites now offering an immersive experience to highlight and educate users on the amazing Sydney Harbour foreshore locations.



53% Increase

in users for Cockatoo Island

14% Increase

in users for Harbour Trust

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