Bradford College

The key to being a good digital agency is making yourself an extension of your client’s business – after all, their success determines your success. If they’re not achieving their digital goals, then it reflects badly on the agency. At Autonomous, we do everything we can to be as accommodating to your needs as possible.

In late 2021, we were tasked with overhauling the Bradford College website. While the existing site itself had a lot of information on it, a lot of it was hard to find and confusing, and there was little resource available to rectify the problems. Unlike many of the projects we take on, this wasn’t a complete rebuild, since the content was already available. This project was to reskin the site, and structure information in a more streamlined way that made it easier to find.

Immediately, we got to work on a new sitemap, which reduced the number of pages from several hundred, to a much smaller quantity, and moved away from a messy WordPress multisite setup to a single installation. Courses were grouped together where possible to sell as “packages” as opposed to individual courses. By searching for certain careers, students can find a pathway of courses that will help them get there, as opposed to just a list of individual courses, pushing the College’s #CareersNotCourses campaign.

First Impressions

The initial project was a straightforward move from one WordPress install to another, but already we have seen massive improvements in terms of user experience. Feedback from all parties has been about how much more aesthetically pleasing the site is compared to the previous iteration.

We have been working since WordPress launched Gutenberg in 2019 to extend its capabilities for our clients to make their sites incredibly powerful. Bradford College have received the latest version of our Page Builder, which takes full advantage of the ability to use Inner Blocks. Previously, our blocks were limited to text editors for defining their content – now we take the WYSIWYG drag-and-drop experience to all our extra page elements, meaning you can drag and drop elements inside your tabbed content your accordions and much more. Boring old text boxes are a thing of the past!

Incredible Speed

Serving the site using nginx and CloudFlare, with solid cache policies in place, leads the site to scoring consistent high-90s desktop speed scores using PageSpeed Insights. This makes the Bradford College website one of the fastest Further Education websites in the country, with local rival establishments not even coming close to these scores. It’s no secret of the internet that a faster site means higher conversion rate, and Bradford College’s site is lightning fast!

The College decided to host their own website, which is something we always recommend where possible if you have the in-house capabilities. Not everyone has the equipment and expertise to do this, and that’s okay – we are always able to help and look after your hosting. If you can, however, it’s good practice; there are a lot of agencies out there who will hold your data to ransom and demand extortionate fees to make any changes. Some agencies will even refuse to hand over your data if you try to leave them. If you’re not doing your own hosting, we highly recommend reading your agency’s terms very carefully.

The Scope for the Future

Once the initial phases of launch have all passed, and we have refined everything that needs to be looked after, we hope to continue working with the College to expand and improve their online presence. Future considerations include:

  • An overhaul the online application system
  • Integration of course data with the College’s MIS
  • Integration with Emsi’s Labout Market Information API

As well as a whole load of general improvements, such as refining the search function and holding forums with users to discuss their experiences with the site.

In addition to this, we have delivered the site to WCAG 2.1 AA standard, as per requirement for the education sector. Per modern expectations, the site is mobile-friendly and operates smoothly on all the common modern devices, both iOS-based and Android-based.

We are proud to have built a solid relationship with Bradford College’s Marketing and IT departments, and hope this can continue into a prosperous future for everyone involved in the project.

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