Plymouth Marjon University

Plymouth Marjon University has a reputation for providing an outstanding student experience leading to high levels of employment. Founded in 1838, the University’s heritage and expertise is well established in faculties of Education & Social Sciences, Sport & Health Sciences and Language & Creative Arts.

Towards the latter part of 2015, Studiose was commissioned to design and build responsive modular page templates for a new ‘Marjon’ website. These needed to allow Marjon to create their own web pages using their existing content management system.

The previous Marjon website was the product of many years of content abuse. It had grown into a monster, containing more than 2000 pages, many of which were impossible to find without performing a search. The result was poor application numbers and falling student numbers.

Wireframing

The first phase of the project involved three weeks of wireframing, testing and refining. This gave us a thorough understanding of the new site’s information architecture, from which we could devise a better user experience and, ultimately, higher application numbers.

After a content audit and a reduction of pages, one of the biggest challenges was to develop a simpler navigation which would work across all devices. Studiose opted for an ‘off-canvas’ navigation which allows for multi-level categorisation without limits. This is a mobile-first approach, but it works incredibly well across any device.

Design

The second biggest challenge we faced was to give the Marjon website a fresh, modern feel. This involved Studiose refreshing the Marjon logo, introducing a modern typeface and developing a new colour palette.

Photography plays a vital role in the new website’s design. The Marjon image library goes back five years or more, and consists of many different styles from a long line of photographers. After studying the effects of image filters, researched by Yahoo Labs, we learned that a filtered image is 21% more likely to be viewed and 45% more likely to be interacted with.

With countless prospective and current students being users of apps like Instagram, Studiose recommended that Marjon use a filter to not only appeal to this target audience, but to help bring a house style to the wide range of photography and avoid the need for a whole new photography shoot.

Prototyping

Studiose used online prototyping to test the mobile and desktop interfaces. This gave project participants the opportunity to see working pages and the off-canvas navigation before we made the commitment to the complicated coding process. This was a vital stage in the project.

Build

The new Marjon templates and modules are constructed from an open-source framework called Foundation, rather than creating complicated and bespoke sets of code. This allows for a wide range of developers with knowledge of Foundation to work on the site. It also makes the website scalable and will make future changes or improvements easier and cost effective.

Copywriting

The team at Marjon was keen to pull together a unified tone of voice (TOV) across the main sections of the website. The TOV needed to appeal to staff, students, parents of prospective students and many more, so it had to retain some formality. But we were able to pull the content away from its more traditional TOV and give it a bit more personality and flair.

The Studiose process has lifted out the stuffiness of an old educational institution and turned it into a totally responsive, easy-to-navigate, vibrant, modern and welcoming platform to entice new students, as well as continuing to serve as a handy resource for current students and staff.

This project is a shining example of what the team at Studiose can achieve.

Project Included

  • Wire-frames and prototyping
  • Responsive web design for mobile, tablet and desktop devices
  • Development of HTML, CSS, jQuery and Javascript
  • Logo modernisation
  • Copywriting 70+ course detail pages and top level pages
  • Bespoke iconography
"I am very excited about the final design – it is fresh, has impact, is well thought out and tested well with our target audience. It is a two phase project and has received much positive feedback from the target audience and internal colleagues.

Studiose advocated a ‘mobile-first’ approach to design so the user experience is slick across multiple devices. They also proposed a good solution to navigation, which had become a problem on our existing website as it grew to 2000+ pages.

In terms of management and team work Studiose were flexible in working with us when our deadlines were pulled forward and ensured that work was delivered on time, from wireframe designs, to final designs, prototype and HTML/CSS. As and when complications arose I was impressed with how quickly they resolved them. They also always follow up an outstanding actions.

They have been a pleasure to work with and are professional at all times and work smoothly together as a team, as well as working well with our wider team."

Laura Bell Digital Marketing Officer - Plymouth Marjon University