National Grid, NRB

Helping clients help themselves


A huge part of providing excellent service to a client is providing them with a knowledge that perhaps they don’t have. With this knowledge, they can then become self-sufficient on an ongoing project. National Grid had chosen the content management system Umbraco as one of their standardised platforms for future web development. To avoid the limitations, we proposed developing a framework which sat on top of this CMS. This would not only help facilitate a greater level of self service and maintenance directly by stakeholders, it would significantly help to reduce costs.

So, we created a Starter Kit which provided a basic level of functionality and a generic branded theme for them to work with.

Strategy & Creation

Included in the Starter kit was the facility to use add-on modules which would provide specific functional elements to a framework site. Alongside this was a theme manager so the framework itself could be skinned or themed on a site-by-site basis, allowing a sense of creative freedom for the client.

So, at a foundation level, a generic National Grid branded microsite could be quickly put together by the internal team and the business unit could then populate and manage the content themselves.

Where there was a need for individual branding or a bespoke look and feel, it could be achieved by developing a theme and applying this to the framework, concentrating purely on the visual layout and user experience.

The advantage of this approach was that National Grid could commission and manage their online presence with a reduced need for additional support from external agencies. To misquote the well-known proverb, the difference between giving someone a fish and a teaching them how to use a rod.

Loving your audience is very much at the centre of our philosophy at Sonder so it was a priority to make the administrative interface accessible to non-technical users. We did this by building on Umbraco’s features with a Module Manager, SEO and Site Settings interfaces and separating out the content and functional elements of managing pages.


We’re proud of all our work but we’ve done something a little different with National Grid. The company is now able to provide user training in-house and as all the sites have the same underlying framework, providing user support is easier. As for the users, their skills are now transferable from one site to another.

There’s also been a knock-on effect: since providing the framework a range of sites have been commissioned using it, with a number being delivered without any external resource, some with minor external input and others where an individual module or site theme has been commissioned.

The majority of support, training and maintenance is now handled in-house reducing the reliance on external agencies.