For the initial scoping, we conducted extensive research to establish the university’s needs and priorities. This included workshops, meetings, and analysing the previous web system. We also undertook user testing to find out exactly how people were using the Aston website and establish where they were encountering difficulties and struggling to find information.
At the end of this phase, we produced a detailed report outlining digital build requirements and showing a clear roadmap for success. The university needed to work within extremely tight deadlines to ensure the new site was ready for clearing in August – its busiest time of year. As Aston has a large volume of content that was working well on the existing system, it only planned to migrate the homepage, course pages and news pages to the new system, therefore ensuring effective integration and communication between systems was vital.
We were delighted to be successful in tendering for the web development project. Our new Drupal 8 web design has a sophisticated and modern aesthetic, enabling Aston to showcase its courses more effectively and better compete with other universities. There is also more flexibility in the layout and promotion of content, and everything is mobile-responsive. The site integrates perfectly with the previous system to form a seamless user journey. A comprehensive SEO strategy also ensured all updated URLs were mapped and redirected effectively so the university could maintain its vital search engine rankings.
The university had previously had difficulties during clearing, with the site crashing as a large number of students tried to search and apply for courses. This meant that valuable potential students and university revenue were lost. We therefore undertook load-testing and user testing to ensure the new site would be able to withstand the high volume of site users and meet their needs during the clearing period.
As Aston University has a clear hierarchical structure with numerous stakeholders, the whole project was planned and executed meticulously to ensure board and internal group sign-off at different stages and still meet the final deadline.