Accessible and user-friendly website for Aquafin

Aquafin website case
Discover how we helped Aquafin communicate clearly with all of its stakeholders through a new website.

The challenges

Aquafin has various stakeholders within the Flemish Region. Ranging from private individuals looking for information about the water works in their street, to cities and municipalities that quickly and easily want to call on the services of the company, PhD students who need information bundles, teachers who need study materials for their primary or secondary school pupils, and so on. Aquafin was looking for a partner who could help them get the right information to the right stakeholder in an intuitive way.

Aquafin site

The question

Aquafin wanted a new, simple website that was user-friendly for all stakeholders. It would be a central content hub where you could quickly find the right information, regardless of your background and purpose. Aquafin indicated that it preferred a website built with an open source application; software whose source code is freely available.

Our approach

In order to make Aquafin's new website as accessible and user-friendly as possible, we thought it would be a good idea to start with taking a look at the broader picture first. Since we wanted to emphasize a pleasant user experience, we looked for a certain logic in terms of visual language, content, and an information architecture through which the user should be able to navigate easily.

Before we started working on the website itself, we went through a discovery phase. In this part of the project, we do everything we can to understand our client as well as possible. In this phase, we explored the diverse stakeholders and their needs. By talking to our customer, we discovered that Aquafin's employees joined the organization out of conviction. The slogan: "clean watercourses for future generations and providing a learning environment in harmony with water" is what drives them all. It is essential that this raison d'être is reflected in the organization's new website.

We organized a series of workshops in which analyzed the look and feel of the images used and the content provided. Based on that input, our creative studio set to work on an adapted version of the logo, creating a style guide and capturing a tone of voice.

Simultaneously, we hired the research agency Emakina Insights, which is part of the Emakina Group, to which The Reference also belongs. Together, we took a closer look at Aquafin's six core stakeholders. For example, we examined what a client is looking for on the website, what they need, and how we can help them with that. This research functioned as the pre-eminent source of information for drawing up an information architecture that keeps the website clear and user-friendly for all stakeholders.

In the end, the Drupal team at The Reference got to work with Drupal 8 to turn everything into one beautiful end result. In this phase, an integration with Gipod was also provided. This .NET application from the government keeps an overview of all maintenance and development projects done for the Flemish Region. In addition to that, the website was also integrated with the Flexmail marketing automation tool.

Our collaboration with Aquafin went further than simply developing an accessible website. One of our On-Site experts gave the Aquafin communications team an extensive training on how to work efficiently with the website's new Content Management System (CMS). We also guided them in optimizing all content (in terms of SEO), in order to get more organic website traffic through search engines. Our Performance Marketing team contributed to this project and provided an extensive keyword analysis.

"We also guided them in optimizing all content in order to get more organic website traffic through search engines".

Our collaboration evolved into a truly agile way of working, with sprints and minimum viable products (MVPs). We started working according to our own developed IMUNA working method. This stands for Initiate, Measure, Understand and Act.

Within The Reference, we also set up a team that is fully dedicated to the needs of Aquafin. We call that a "customer team". Such customer teams have monthly status meetings with our customer in order to look at the most recent results, analyze them and then set priorities for the coming period.

Our solution

Right now, the website - completely built in Drupal 8 - is live. The website is multilingual, supporting a Dutch and a English hatch.

Drupal logo

While building the website, we also developed an integration with Gipod; a .NET application developed by the government that gives you an up-to-date overview of all government working activities in the Flemish Region. In order to be able to connect the website to Gipod, we developed an extensive, automated PHP application. This ensures that when Aquafin puts information about its activities on its own website, this is automatically synchronised with Gipod.

An integration with the marketing automation tool Flexmail was also provided for e-mail campaigns.

In addition to building the new website, we also created on a style guide, a tone of voice document, and a renewed logo.

Throughout our journey, which started in 2016, we supported Aquafin in their evolution towards a more digitally mature environment. The organisation's employees used to work mainly with offline media such as brochures and flyers. During our collaboration, we guided them in learning how they could use the website as an effective means of communication.


Our efforts for Aquafin resulted in a Splash Award for Public Institutions in 2017, both in the Benelux, as well as on a European scale.


In the meantime, we continue to optimize the website. Currently, we are improving the user experience on the mobile version. For example, the integrated map module of Mapbox now offers more possibilities in terms of responsiveness, which we were not able to implement when we initially started building the website.

In the future, we will also work on creating a link between the recruitment tool Easycruit and the Aquafin website.

Services and technology

  • The website was built with Drupal 8
  • An On-Site consultant from The Reference was working at Aquafin to support all digital projects
  • Results are being measured and optimized using Google Analytics.
  • We guarantee business continuity for Aquafin by means of a Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Planning a similar project?


Aquafin is a public limited company that purifies rain and soil water within the Flemish Region on behalf of the government. It is specialized in rainwater management and has both an entrepreneurial and an educational role by offering study materials to pupils and students. In addition to Aquafin, its sister company Aquaplus purifies rainwater for clients like petrol stations and industrial sites.
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