SOSE was set up in 2020 to establish the South as a centre of opportunity, innovation and growth. Its main aim is to drive inclusive growth, increase competitiveness, and tackle inequality within the region. Working across Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders, it provides a range of services to support businesses and communities.
The website went live during spring of 2020 with initial content to get started. Since then, SOSE has evolved and expanded, SOSE’s Communication and Marketing team manages the day-to-day creation of website content. In early 2022 SOSE underwent a tender process to find external expertise for the provision of dedicated, focused, and ongoing support of their Umbraco website.
I-Finity’s Umbraco Expertise and Security by Design Approach
In the tendering process I‑Finity was successful in securing a partnership with SOSE, by being able to demonstrate its extensive Umbraco expertise through multiple project examples. During the tendering I‑Finity was able to demonstrate its security by design approach in protecting systems, data and processes. At the time of tendering I‑Finity was Cyber Essentials Certified and since then have become Cyber Essentials Plus Certified to demonstrate its continuous commitment to security.
I‑Finity had to deliver on the following requirements:
- Create an easy to navigate website for stakeholders to find key information easily.
- Refresh the structure to reflect SOSE’s vision and ambitious approach for the South.
- Collaborate with a copywriting agency SOSE had commissioned to refresh current content and create new content to support the restructure project.
- Provide expertise to guide, consult and implement the new refreshed content into the new structure within Umbraco CMS.
- Capture the optimal customer journey to make it easy to surface content, keep visitors engaged and make it easy to contact SOSE.
- Undertake user testing for the proposed new structure and refine based on tester feedback.
- Participate in the Digital First Review Assessment (Framework managed by Digital Assurance Office in the Scottish Government) and deliver on website accessibility standards.
- Provide regular communications and project updates against a project plan.
- Work as a collaborative project team comprised of SOSE’s Communications and Marketing team and the copy writing agency.
CREATING A SEAMLESS CUSTOMER JOURNEY
UMBRACO WEBSITE RESTRUCTURE PROJECT
Umbraco Website Restructure Deliverables:
SOSE Site Navigation
It was imperative to design the optimal navigation to effectively support multiple audiences coming to the website:
- Reviewed web analytics data, website feedback collated by SOSE and findings from customer journey research to inform the new structure.
- Spending time upfront discussing content areas and adopting a user centric approach, helped us to define the new structure this led to the design of an accessible navigation.
- The new navigation was easy to use, accessible and mobile responsive.
Restructured Page Layouts/Refreshed Overall Design
- Improvements were needed as the existing pages of content did not lend themselves well to touch devices.
- Implemented a mobile first approach where both design and functionality are prioritised together to ensure they work the same way regardless of screen size.
- Utilised existing branding to update and refresh the overall design.
- Developed new components in Umbraco CMS using the updated design whilst providing some flexibility to content editors such being able to change the display of components i.e., rows versus pods, ability to have defined background colours etc.
- Designed and developed new page layouts for all pages.
- Maintained existing SEO presence and worked closely with the copy writers who supplied all website copy along with updated page titles and meta descriptions. These were placed into Umbraco’s built-in search optimisation capability.
Dynamic Homepage Structure (Related & Featured Components)
Keeping a site dynamic, what did that look like for SOSE?
- Having a homepage that has the flexibility to customise the display of content with the ability to add, remove and update components/features.
- Ability to easily feature, promote and spotlight relevant content on any page of the site e.g., Case Study, News Article, Event etc. without having to duplicate content.
- Built a related content module in Umbraco to allow content editors to select relevant content by simply adding the link to the page.
- Built a featured section that allows a content editor to feature and showcase a case study or event or news item. The content editor can select how they want the feature to look like.
- The process of displaying related and featured content enjoys a level of automation within Umbraco so as a content editor you only write it once.
Providing website visitors multiple ways to find and discover content:
Achieving the optimal customer journey led to the approach of providing different ways in which website visitors could consume, search, and find information:
1: Customised User Led Search Feature
Developed a custom search led feature in Umbraco to provide an experience based on who you are and what you need to achieve. The focus of the feature was to help website visitors find content easily relevant to their needs. The search was supported with additional filtering options to enable visitors to refine results further by date or relevancy and/or categories.
2: Categorisation and Tagging of Content
Categories and tags are displayed throughout the website and the User Led Search feature is also supported with tags and categories. All content created in Umbraco can be tagged and categorised to surface relevant content in a more user-friendly way. The tags and categories displayed on the website provides visitors the opportunity to click on them to generate a view of all content that is available under that tag/category.
3: Events & Training Calendar with filters, types and key word search
The focus was to list events and training clearly with supportive features such as calendar picker, selectable filters, refine by event type and key word search. Further supported with the ability to add events and training to your own calendar where the invite contains all the key information.
Past events still have relevance from a search presence and user perspective, they should be handled for a positive customer experience. With SOSE’s passed events Umbraco will automatically set to expire and the display of a passed event changes where a clear banner overlays on top of the page content stating it has passed with a link to direct visitors to current listings.
4: Site Wide Search
- Delivered performance improvements to return search results faster.
- Improved the way results were being displayed whilst providing useful information such as date of publication.
- Provide the ability for website visitors to change how they wish to view results by enabling filtering, sort by date/most recent, relevancy, by categories and tags.
- Content editors have the ability to set a search priority on any page in Umbraco to prioritise valuable informational pages to website visitors.
Making it easy and clear for website visitors to make contact:
Developed Multiple Contact Forms that are Easily Accessible
The restructured website was designed to incorporate a clear call to action where the contact form is available on every website page. The form opens up within that page to avoid taking visitors to another page. We have developed specific contact forms such as feedback and press enquiries. The inherited enquiries form that came with the existing website is now better signposted making it easy for businesses, communities, and start-ups to access support from SOSE.
Directory of Staff/Board/Senior Leadership Team
Designed and developed a directory that allows visitors to the site to:
- Read about Board Members, Senior Leadership Team and SOSE Staff.
- Each SOSE member can be contacted via an online form that is easily accessible.
- Each directory listing provides name, job title, department and a short profile.
Discuss website features and functionality that you need for your website by making contact with us today.
User Acceptance Testing (UAT) within the Project Plan
The project plan had dedicated time to allow for user acceptance testing to be performed by intended users of the website to validate the website restructure goals had been delivered. It provided an opportunity to test for accessibility with users removing sole reliance on 3rd party accessibility testing tools such as Wave, Site Improve etc. Furthermore, it provided additional user feedback outside of the project group and SOSE’s internal stakeholders.
I‑Finity provided a dedicated UAT environment for testers to perform their testing, testers were supported with a UAT document outlining what they can test and what the expected behaviour should be. All the input from testers was collated within the document to confirm if each test passed or failed along with the opportunity add comments and feedback. The feedback was reviewed, corrective action was taken back to development and tested.
This part of the process also supported the Digital First Review Assessment where you need to evidence the website is being tested with intended users and user feedback is being considered.
Communication & Collaboration
This was a significant restructure project where all old URLs needed to be mapped, redirected and new URLs to be structured for search optimisation. I‑Finity also became responsible for hosting the restructured Umbraco website on Azure, this involved managing environments within Azure for staging/UAT and production. There was a technical transition from SOSE’s previous hosting partner to I-Finity.
Considering the complete scope of the project the success behind it was driven by the strong communication and collaboration achieved as a working project group:
- I‑Finity formed as an integral part of the internal working group at SOSE and with the copy writing agency.
- Hosting transition was successful by working closely with the previous agency and undergoing due diligence to understand existing technical set up and API dependencies.
- Scheduled weekly projects calls for updates, review of actions and progress against the project plan.
- Working to Agile Software Development Methodology to show early progress and regular demos for continuous feedback.
- Agile delivery was supported with a project plan that had defined workstreams, dates, deliverables, and dependencies.
- Digital First Review Assessment required all parties to work together in bringing the key evidence together and documenting the written response to support the assessment.
Digital First Review & Accessibility
The Digital Scotland Service Standard is a digital/technology assurance framework that applies to central government organisations. The aim of the framework is to ensure products and services are being designed in the right way.
When launching a new digital public service or designing an existing one it needs to go through the different stages of the Digital First Service Standard assessment. This was a requirement for SOSE’s website restructure project, for the assessment we had to display and evidence the following:
- Decisions are being made by putting the needs of users first.
- Making the right technical choices.
- Sufficient people and processes are in place to support service/product go live.
We evidenced and provided a written response to support approx. 10 of the 14 criteria’s that the Digital First Assessor deemed as relevant to the project and scope. Collectively we worked with SOSE’s project team during this process resulting in achieving the go live approval needed from the Digital First Review assessment.
- Managed a successful transition from previous site to the new restructured Umbraco website with no disruption to SOSE’s operations.
- Provided all the necessary evidence for the Digital First Review to achieve approval to support website go live.
- Received positive website feedback from UAT testers, website visitors and SOSE’s internal teams.
- Increased the visibility of how website visitors can make contact increasing the number of contact submissions.
Needing a restructure or a new website contact us to talk through what you need from your website.Projects