Friends of Cancer Research

Research and Information Architecture


To cancer research stakeholders, Friends of Cancer Research (Friends) is known for substantive dialogue and strategic policy. Their largest accomplishment is passing breakthrough therapy legislation in collaboration with the Food and Drug administration (FDA) to expedite the development and review of drugs that have the potential to save lives. 


Contracted with Blue Water Media to complete the project, worked closely with leadership and staff at Friends of Cancer Research


Outside a core group of cancer researchers, Friends is virtually unknown. This limits the growth of the organization because media and government stakeholders are unaware of their potential to influence change.


“What Friends did [during Breakthrough legislation] that was most useful was facilitate collaboration with small number of stakeholders who really mattered, and they validated what was good and discredited what was bad.”
-       Director, Office of Generic Drug Policy at the FD

To understand this problem, I interviewed experts from organizations including the Food and Drug Administration, American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research.


After creating the personas, I put together a SWOT analysis to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the organization.

Along with an onsite ideation session with the organization, these research activities gave direction to the website redesign.

  • Speak to all of the stakeholders with language they can understand. This includes media, Capitol Hill staffers, legislators, scientists, doctors, other advocacy organizations, etc.
  • Demonstrate that Friends lives in a middle ground between research organizations that can seem too analytical and advocacy organizations that can appear too emotional.
  • Balance macro level successes like legislation with all of the small steps it takes to achieve them. 
  • Keep it personal because cancer means something to everyone.

Information Architecture:

With these goals in mind, I proposed a new site architecture to speak directly to each of the stakeholders. Navigation helps partners, patients and policy makers quickly find the content they are looking for. Simplifying resources (fact sheets and a glossary of cancer terms) makes it easy for the public to understand the science behind their work. Clear language describing Friends’ mission makes it easy for all stakeholders to understand and remember the organization. 

In addition to the navigation, I proposed information architecture for the homepage that demonstrates Friends’ value to their different stakeholders and can quickly connect them to the organization.