Delivering transformational change to a land-based college
Moulton College sits within 450 hectares of land and offers specific and niche provision including an Animal Welfare Centre and state of the art Equestrian facilities.
In recent years the college has gone through some challenging times and student numbers have fallen. It previously had a very good reputation and a new senior management team is implementing considerable change to ensure that the College recovers this and grows in the future.
We started working with the college in January 2020 after a successful tender process and were very aware of the need for the new website to be delivered quickly. It was one of the tightest timeframes we have worked to, however we built an excellent relationship with the marketing team at Moulton College. There had to be clear and constant communication channels with all parties aware of their role and responsibilities to ensure we met the deadlines.
Throw into the mix a national pandemic and we found the project and those involved having to adapt and manage an ever changing situation.
The new website launched on 1st June to schedule and on budget and is exceeding against the performance indicators set out by the college.
We designed the new website with students at the heart. Never has it been more important to ensure all of our students get good advice and guidance in terms of their future career paths. The team did an exceptional job of pulling everything together to deliver an innovative and forward thinking website against an extremely tight deadline.
Initial research phase
We spent 2 days on site at the college undertaking a series of workshops, group discussions and interactive sessions with students, staff and key personnel within the college. We built user journey maps based on target user personas we developed with the college.
This period of consultation was vitally import for a few reasons:
- To get a true insight into the college from staff and students
- To see the scale of the campus and world-class facilities
- To understand the journey the college is on, driven by the new senior management team, to recover from recent difficulties
- To be a visible presence within the college over this period, where people could drop in and speak with us about the project and feel part of the process
We presented our conclusions to the college in an evidence-based report with key points to take forward that included the following:
- To ensure the college’s personal approach comes through
- To showcase the unrivalled and specialist facilities
- To ensure prospective students and their parents can really experience the college
- To build careers information and progression routes into the website
Our design process
We went through an initial process of wireframing key website pages and mapping out important user journeys. It was vital the new site was easy to use and courses could be found and applied for. Prospective students and their parents had to engage with the site and its content and it was therefore extremely important that appropriate content and content types were used and displayed in a way that made for a great user experience.
A key part of our initial proposition and pitch to the college was to bring careers data into the website. We are very aware that prospective students don’t always know the course they want to apply for and it was important to us that the new website engaged with users through possible careers and highlighted the paths they could take - all mapped to the college’s courses.
Using our Pathways data sets, we have built a careers section into the website that showcases possible careers. Key data about each career is displayed including potential salary, working hours, skills required and career tips and is all linked to courses within the college that can help the student get to that career.
The college also use our Pathways tool across their course pages to map their courses to future careers.
There was a requirement for the website to be integrated with data from the college’s Unit-e system to ensure course information was automatically synchronised between the college MIS and the new website.
The system we have developed seamlessly integrates with the college’s Unit-e system by automatically pulling course data in every night and updating all courses in the website system to ensure everything remains synchronised.
Students can select courses on the website and continue to apply for that course online.
The whole process from inception to going live has been one of the smoothest I have been part of in my 20+ years in the Further Education environment
Personalising course selection
Students can save courses to their 'My choices' area for applying online directly into Unit-e. The website also allows prospective students to download a personalised PDF prospectus based on the courses in their 'My choices' area.
One of the requirements of the project was to cater for a number of sub-sites the college runs to promote the services of some of their commercial enterprises, such as The Equestrian Centre or Animal Therapy Centre.
We built multi-site functionality into the project, to give distinct areas to these sub-sites while all being managed within the same Content Management System.
Early observations of the new website show that the project has delivered transformational change within the College, significantly contributing to key strategic measures and helping to secure the stability and financial security needed for the academic year 20/21 and already reaching into 21/22.
In December 2020, the website won the Gold Award at the College Marketing Network FE First Awards.
What we did
- User experience
- User interface design
- Interactive prototyping
- User research
- Usability testing
- Information architecture
- Visual design
- Responsive design
- Bespoke systems
- Website development