The website of Jesus College, University of Cambridge had grown old and was no longer fit for purpose. It was sorely lacking in content and had a lifeless feel. Contra Agency were commissioned to redesign the site.
One challenge with a Cambridge College website is that it has to serve a number of different audiences – prospective students, current students, alumni, conference customers, choir fans and academics. The website is in part a recruitment tool (admissions), part B2B sales tool (conferences), part a fundraising tool (via alumni) and also the face of an ancient institution. The website needed to address all these audiences differently and provide them the content they need. Administratively each department needs its own space with the flexibility to plan out and maintain their own content as they see fit.
Design-wise, the site would need to reflect the heritage of the College but also show it is a cutting edge institution, a home to many students and a vibrant community.
Our solution addressed all of these challenges.
Contra began with an extended period of consultation with all key stakeholders and young people who were considering Cambridge. From this we were able to ascertain the needs of these different groups and present an IA, content and design strategy to meet these needs.
We determined the new site needed to be people focused, rather than having a focus on buildings and history as other Colleges have. This would help prospective students to relate to the College as a home, which is a crucial aspect of widening participation.
The new site’s design is very photo led. It features images of the College in action, with people focused photos showing the friendly and diverse atmosphere of the College. This helps the visitor get a sense of what the College is really like – a vibrant community. The photo led approach works equally well for all areas, eg admissions, conferences etc.
The site’s IA ensures it addresses each audience appropriately. Each audience has its own section with its own navigation menu. Section pages feature clear signposts to deeper content, and all pages have the option of section specific news, events and social feeds. Deeper pages provide contextually relevant next steps and further information, including downloads testimonials and fellow profiles. The main navigation provides quick and easy access to an entire section and provides the ability to promote key content. It all works equally well on mobile and desktop.
The site content is friendly and useful, with an appropriate tone of voice within each section, good use of headings to provide structure and images to provide context. Every photo can be a video, giving flexibility to show engaging content anywhere.
Since the launch in Feb the new site has performed amazingly. The bounce rate dropped a whopping 91% and sessions increased 30% with average duration increasing 27%. Pageviews increased by a massive 219%. (All from google analytics Feb-Sep 17 compared to Feb-Sep16). It has been extremely well received by the College.