A Leyland-based college has had its website revolutionized and relaunched by a former student, resulting in a user interface that is the first of its kind within the local education market.
Web developer, Adam Davis, completed his A Levels at Runshaw College 20 years ago and after progressing on to university and working within a number of web design agencies, Adam founded Soap Media with his brother Markerle in 2005.
The digital agency was selected to complete the work for Runshaw via a competitive tender process that ran nationally. Commencing in August this year, the 12 week consultation, design and build process was project managed by a task group within the college, in close collaboration with the agency.
The most unique functionality of the new site is the simplicity and ease of use of the navigation and course selection process. Adam and the team at Soap used e-commerce principles to create a simple tick box selection system which refines the choices for potential students. This technology results in users being able to quickly find what they are looking for and is unique within local educational establishments.
The tone, style and look of the website was a collaborative process comprising ideas from the project team, staff, students and other stakeholders.
Adam said: “As a former Runshaw student it was a fantastic opportunity to develop their new online presence. I have very fond memories of my time at the college and to see how it has grown and developed was a pleasure. Bringing the website in line with Runshaw’s current position as a leading educational provider was a challenge that we enjoyed and the end result is something we are incredibly proud of. Not only is the site very modern and sleek, it is also very user friendly, innovative and future proofed.”
The site has been built on WordPress, the world’s most popular Content Management System (CMS), which allows the team at Runshaw to update the site with ease. Soap integrated bespoke programming into the back end of the website, including the automation of manual tasks and syncing of data across systems, saving the College’s IT team’s time and resources.
IT Lead, Andrew Gant, who managed the project on behalf of Runshaw College, said: “The new website is of huge benefit to us, not only from an end user point of view, but also from a behind the scenes perspective.
“Courses created in our Student Information System are now automatically imported into the website upon creation, forming a seamless process. We now also have the ability to syndicate news items and events on the website with our newly developed Communications Portal and our Staff Portal so that staff and parents are kept abreast of the very latest news as it happens.
“This live news approach to the home page creates a highly interactive social hub, giving the site a current, vibrant feel that ties in to the culture of the college.”
Another key element of the rebuild was ensuring the site was fully optimised for all devices, as 75% of all users of the previous website were viewing it from a smartphone / tablet device.
Runshaw College’s Principal, Simon Partington, said: “As one of the most successful colleges in the UK with national recognition for outstanding results, we strongly believe that our website should reflect our excellent status. We’re incredibly pleased with the new design and functionalities, which have been very well received by our students, prospective students, staff and parents /carers alike. The design is current, innovative, user friendly and works across all platforms, representing us perfectly as leaders in our field.”
The website will continue to develop, with the College having commissioned Soap to carry out further work to improve Apprenticeship application pathways online. Potential applicants will have the ability to search for vacancies in a similar way to courses and navigate easily between a vacancy and the course element. The team at Runshaw believe they will be the first in the area to do this and that internal processes will be streamlined by the technology.
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