A new online prospectus for Sheffield Hallam University

Formerly Sheffield Polytechnic, Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) was granted university status in 1992. It’s now the 8th largest university in the UK, with over 30,000 students and almost 5,000 staff, contributing £80m to the local Sheffield economy.

Challenges

The average student debt in the UK is £50k and a central topic on political party manifestos. More and more students are seeking value for money, but only 32% of students believe they receive that.

With the Competition Markets Authority publishing new guidance in March 2015, universities are obligated to be compliant with relevant consumer law. For SHU, compliance was to be achieved digitally - through presenting more accessible and clearer information on its website about the composition of courses, how they will be delivered, and life at SHU.

We’ve worked with SHU since June 2017 – having helped with the migration of their Sitecore Experience Platform development operations.

Solution

The focus was on what the students see at application stage, enabling them to make a fully informed decision not just about the course, but the holistic life at Hallam; the university, the city, the accommodation and the relevant expense.

We provided Discovery and Delivery teams to work collaboratively with a multi-disciplinary SHU team, representing both Marketing and Digital Technology Services (DTS) to define, design and deliver a large-scale redevelopment of the Online Prospectus (OLP) based around 3 customer-centric principles:

Presenting the most relevant information for the user – in terms of improving search results, content that adds value to the course offer, removing content that is too generic, and incorporating relevant student stories.

Improving on page usability and navigation – the target audience associates experience on the page with quality of the product. We have improved the ability for students to filter search results and find what they need easily and efficiently, whilst new in-page navigation and cross-linking of supporting content alleviates as much scrolling as possible.

Keeping the experience brief and to the point – clean, easy to use design. Users don’t want to read lots of content on the page – they prefer to see key information summarised / highlighted. Key course information now sits at the top of pages, whilst in other areas content is highlighted through bullet lists and featured information.

Results

Phase 1 of the online prospectus went live in October 2017. Phase 2 went live in March 2018:

  • Page views to the Courses pages have increased by 20%
  • Search effectiveness has improved i.e. exits have reduced from 17% to 15% and refinements have increased from 22% to 28%
  • Interactions with the My Prospectus button has increased by 539% 

Visit the new online prospectus