Distinction helped Hult Ashridge Business School with its digital transformation by resolving fragmented and conflicting website platforms and content.
For this 200 year-old business education college history weighed heavy. It had resulted in a fragmented website, outdated content and a frustrating UX – all of which was restricting potential revenue.
By resolving the conflicting platforms and systems while keeping stakeholders – and Google – on board, Distinction transformed the business and delivered significant cost savings as a result.
Educating the educators on smart digital governance
Providing MBAs and both open and closed training programmes to the business world, Hult Ashridge Business School operates in the highly competitive executive education environment.
Certainly, the School was a success. The School’s stunning 200 year-old Ashridge House spoke of a rich legacy. At the same time, its future success was being severely compromised by its website, which had evolved in a fractured and fragmented manner.
Reducing the cost – both actual and hidden
Slowly but surely the Hult Ashridge Business School website had steadily ballooned to around 60 websites, serving up a huge volume of content on an unwieldy mass of web pages. Built on too many different systems, the website was a mess of different platforms and pages. Some WordPress, many unsupported, all relying on one person to manage all the moving parts. It was difficult to navigate, frustrating for users, and an unhappy experience for everyone. In responding to the ever-changing business world, the site had lost its way.
It also cost far too much. Not only in the need to push water up hill on maintaining the site (at a huge commercial cost), but also on the fractured and weak presentation of what the School could do for business (at a huge cost to brand reputation).
Transforming the experience
So how do you set about rationalising a sprawling website that had escaped its original purpose? In this case, with impartial and independent expertise, and by casting an objective and dispassionate eye on where the website was now, where it needed to be, and how it was going to get there.
And so Distinction began the process of transforming the Hult Ashridge Business School website. Their goal was simple: to share their expertise in how websites work both under the bonnet and in the face of the public to transform the website experience for a digital savvy audience.
Revealing a complex picture
Distinction started by talking to stakeholders. They listened to users. They researched the business education market. They challenged the brief, which in its early stages suggested copying and pasting content from the old to the new website. They asked why, why, why?
The deeper they went, so the size and complexity increased. The truth slowly dawned on them that they had underestimated the obstacles and, in reality, didn’t know how disorganised things were until they really got into it. They discovered duplicate pages featuring contradictory content, microsites not on the latest platform version, off-brand content unfit for purpose. Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and accessibility issues. Their task was further complicated by the fact that Hult Ashridge Business School was already in the middle of a full rebrand.
Offering a singular view
Then the breakthrough. Having conducted eight workshops and extensive research over 10 months, Distinction realised that a major part of the problem was that old favourite: too many chefs. So, while their instincts told them such a vast project needed plenty of people to sort it out, their rational minds told them something quite opposite. What was actually needed here was the singular vision and clear direction of a small, discreet and dedicated team.
So they set to work. For two months, it’s all their compact team – frequently two people, occasionally just one – actually did. So immersed were they in the project that at times the lines between agency and client became blurred. Distinction operated as if they were the client.
Simplifying, rationalising, optimising… and protecting
They converted 60 websites into just two. A herculean task that separated the event and venue booking element of the School away from its core education and training purpose. By optimising the internet archive (IA) of the site, removing some content and updating the rest, they ensured users would find searching for relevant content a simple and seamless experience.
Due to the sheer volume and scale, it proved to be tiring and difficult work. As well as the immense difficulties of moving content over to the new website – without impacting Google search rankings – meeting the needs of various educational stakeholders required delicacy and diplomacy, especially for those who were understandably protective of their content.
Owning the project
At the same time, Distinction’s deep involvement made this project hugely rewarding and always enjoyable. They felt like they owned it, like it was their website, like the customers were their customers.
And the end result? A whole new look and feel for the website. Giving the school the knowledge of what true digital governance feels like. Providing the security of content workflows to maintain quality in the future. Reducing the cost of ownership to a miniscule amount to what it once was.
For everyone, the lesson was clear: while complex problems may require complex solutions, often a small and simple team set-up is the best option in delivering the right result.
Transforming a business with a 200-year legacy that its stakeholders were quite rightly proud of was no mean feat. But by giving the business school true digital governance and reducing 60 websites to just two with a seamless CX, significant cost savings were enjoyed as a result.
Distinction is a digital strategy agency that’s all about the action. They are specialists in active strategy and experts in experience design.