Throw back Thursdays: Kent Sport Site redevelopement 2014.

As an avid member of Kent Sport (much to the annoyance of some of my colleagues), I have spent a large amount of my personal time at the facility whilst employed here at Kent.

Whilst the facilities are world class and the staff and trainers are fantastic, it became a, to help promote the services of Kent Sport better, utilising the standard University template Chronos and the standard snippets at our disposal.

Prior to the commencement of the project, the Kent Sport was in the previous generation of the University template, Bacchus. Whilst this was satisfying most needs, the design of the template was beginning to show its age by not being able to show Kent Sport as a modern facility and certain functions – critical to promoting class and activites, where handled in a less than intuitive manner for both publishers and users alike.

After a number of conversations between Web Solutions and Kent Sport, it was decided in late December 2013, to redevelop the site. The project was defined by the following objectives:-

  1. Migration of site and sub-site content from existing Bacchus to the Chronos template
  2. Revision of the site navigation
  3. Sourcing of new banner imagery
  4. Design and development of a brand new homepage, structured around key user journeys
  5. Establishment of News blog publishing solution
  6. Transfer and optimization of upto 165 content pages

On commencement of the project, we worked with the Project Lead, Phil Darrell-Smith, to build upon the requirements that we had gathered during the immersion and agreement stages of the project to explore the user groups of the site, their requirements in addition to exploring how we could establish Kent Sport’s visual identity whilst adhering to the Kent brand.

Through initial mockups of banner and colour options (a standard service we provide for redevelopment projects), photos were chosen from a bank taken by Information Services’ resident Digital Imaging Team Leader, Matt Wilson. To provide consistency, the same bank of images were also used for paper brochures that were also produced and circulated around the time.

Once agreed on the visual style and after discussions that explored the key user journeys for visitors reaching the homepage, we began designing the homepage and reviewing the site navigation in correspondence with Phil. The site navigation review was necessary to aid with a streamlined experience for visitors to the site, in addition to providing an easier and more efficient experience for publishers of the site when it came round to editing. Once agreed on the visual identity of the site and the proposed site structure – we began the task of transferring and optimising content.

As experience has taught us over many years of dealing with over 500+ publishers around the University, it wouldn’t be very helpful to just transfer and dump content on pages and leave it at that. With the direction of Faye, our Senior Web Designer – we looked pragmatically at each page – its content and what it was looking to achieve. From there, a number of weeks of transferring the content (utilising the updated Chronos snippets to best promote the content that was provided to us!), we performed an internal Q&A of the site, to get further feedback from our other developers, designers and content editors to ensure that site was optimized prior to demonstration to the client.

From there, we invited Phil to view the site where we collected some final feedback and then scheduled the site to be pushed live for the world to see.

The site has now been live for a few months now and we invited Phil to share his experiences of working with us on the project:-

“The upgraded Kent Sport website is much brighter, easier to navigate and incorporates the blog news items as well as a new calendar where people will find our wide range of exciting events and opportunities to get involved including our fitness and dance classes which can now be booked online. We have so many things we want people to be aware of such as our great value membership options, our health and fitness services including the Kent Sport Physiotherapy Clinic, sports coaching and the variety and choice of activities at our extensive facilities and the new website will really help us inform people.

Our Kent Sport Annual Survey 2014 showed us that people refer to the website more than any other source for information about Kent Sport so we are pleased to have completed the latest improvements to it.

This has been achieved with the support and dedication of the web development team who have worked closely with us to successfully meet our current requirements. The team assisted us from concept to training and launch and we are happy to have them available for ongoing support. Many thanks to the web team for progressing the website to this point.”

The Kent Sport site was a fun project which allowed us to draw on excellent imagery, a wealth of content, user journeys and an indepth understanding of what the facility is looking to achieve. Thank you Phil for the feedback.

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