With students coming from a variety of backgrounds and denominations, The Union Theological College (UTC) comprises two 19th Century Irish Presbyterian Colleges, namely the Presbyterian Theological College, Belfast and Magee Theological College based in Derry. 

Etain’s team were most sensitive to our values and our needs and they proved to be unfailingly responsive as we worked together throughout the process. We now have a website that is easy to manage and that is proving an asset to us in fulfilling our vision.

Stafford Carson, Union Theological College

The Business Problem

The college initially came to Etain looking to address an antiquated site manager tool that did not provide flexibility of content management or a way to remedy a lack of information discovery and distribution. They knew that important circulatory information was buried too deep within the site, not easily accessible internally or externally to existing and potential visitors. As a result of this poor exposure they felt they had experienced limited avenues for revenue generation and stakeholder advocacy.

We also understood that the end-user experience (UX) was of primary importance. As such, while our solution had to reflect the college’s academic excellence and enable them to market their courses online, it also had to feature an intuitive navigational structure.

This meant the delivery of a modern website featuring a user friendly content management system (CMS) that would allow the upload of current news and engaging information by a wider group of staff members and cohort network. Additionally, the site would be designed to facilitate brand promotion across a global network of interested academics, in short equipping them with a way to increase their reach and access in to a pool of prospective international students.

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Our Approach

With the help of the college and a series of workshops, our programme of discovery accommodated the mapping of a cohesive navigation structure that would ensure accurate information funnelling, onsite audience targeting, and intuitively direct the right information to the right readership.

Through the assimilation of student feedback and online surveys, that had identified the UTC’s audience was primarily mobile, we championed the delivery of a device-reactive, 'mobile first' solution.

On top of this, while researching the ideal custom solution for UTC, we identified crucial drivers for the adoption of technology in higher education. These went on to inform most of our recommendations and allowed us to add real value to the College’s web strategy.

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The Transformation

By making responsive design a priority we were ensuring the identified audience, existing and desired, would be rewarded for their site engagement through intuitive navigation and ease of information discovery, accessible on all platforms.

Given our experience and expertise utilising the technology, we made the decision to craft the college’s tailored solution through Kentico. Due in part for its scalability where multiple contact users, responsive nature, security of information was concerned, but in particular it's user friendly interface and capability to incorporate e-commerce, event management, and on-board marketing. This also aligned with the tool set we understood was already utilised by their current partner organisations, including that of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland.

Risks & Challenges

While functionality was a major concern, we were aware that as an educational body with denominational partnerships the ethos and values of the college had to be foremost, conveyed through our graphical designer's appropriate use of imagery, language, look and feel.

While ensuring the functionality and future scalability the college was looking for, we also worked to mitigate any potential data loss by accommodating their legacy of Microsoft systems into the new custom solution. Assimilation of this legacy was of particular importance where alleviating resource pressures were concerned, and to allow ease of transition in scaling of future teaching innovations. Keeping those channels relevant and engaging for all users, while addressing a variable digital fluency among faculty members, necessitated the prioritisation of UX and clear-channel navigation; as well bringing the college up to sector pace against competition from new models of education in the UK and Ireland.

The Benefits

We recommended Kentico for its rich functionality, flexibility and ease of use, as well its organic platform integration when built on Microsoft technology (.NET). The benefit of the .NET system in this case being transparent with established upgrade paths as well as the ability for UTC to safe guard sustainability and accommodate future expansion and as the college continues to grow.

We presented our solution in a way that would allow UTC to increase the use of the website for existing and potential students, faculty members and other stakeholders. Thus becoming an interaction hub between the College and students.

Interested in Kentico? Looking for a robust Content Management System? If you’d like to discuss a custom CMS project or simply want to know more feel free to call us on 028 90 87 2222 or drop us an email below.

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