One of the UK’s Top 20 Modern Universities, Plymouth University underwent a major website redevelopment in 2014 to ensure its online presence reflected the innovation and creativity of the institution, as well as reflecting today and tomorrow’s user needs by being ‘Mobile First’.
Stranger Collective won a competitive pitch to help Plymouth develop a new tone of voice in line with its recent visual rebrand, lead the content overhaul of its 14,000 page website, and upskill its in-house digital content team to write top quality content.
Over the course of nine months, we:
We began by getting to grips with the size of the project, its challenges and possibilities – before recommending the best plan of attack.
“It was a pretty mammoth task,” says Plymouth University Project manager, Joe Grant. “We had about 14,000 pages across three legacy content management systems that had to be refreshed. We also had a Digital Editorial Team who weren’t working under formal project processes or editorial processes. We really needed direction and wanted a reputable writing agency onboard to help the team implement a good process to get through the huge task in hand.”
“Stranger Collective helped us to believe in our writing ability, to gain confidence and to make the huge task at hand manageable.” Sara Morris-Arkle, Deputy Editor
As well as writing and editing large amounts of ‘exemplar’ copy for the new website, we needed to help mobilise Plymouth’s in-house editorial team to be able to deal with the huge demand for quality content across the University’s 3,000-strong academic and administrative staff.
We put a Senior Editor on location to work with the team in Plymouth throughout the course of the project, to ensure quality, consistency and leadership for the editorial team. Developing a range of strategies – from editorial surgeries to running a series of bespoke training sessions – we ensured both the editorial team and the University’s wider staff were equipped to write confidently and consistently in Plymouth’s new tone of voice.
As it was being run as an agile project, there wasn’t going to be a big launch. Instead, new sections went live as they were completed. We then engaged in an iterative cycle of improvements, drastically increasing the quality of content on the site and the speed at which we could create it.
“Stranger Collective grasped the issues presented by the project really well, and put together a variety of strategies to deal with them,” says John Wright, Plymouth University’s Chief Information Officer. “They put a lot of thought into how to prioritise the content work, the techniques that were needed to engage and develop the team, and how to mobilise staff and students across the university so we would be sustainable going forward. The quiet unassuming and confident way they approached the whole project really fed into the self-confidence and self-belief of our existing team. I think that ultimately was the key ingredient for success for the whole project.”
We measured our progress constantly along the way, building in solid metrics to determine improvements in quality, the impact of our training on the editorial team, and the effects of the new content on the website’s key audiences. The team was pleased with the measurable improvements in the new content.
While stepping back at the end of a project is always bittersweet, one of our deliverables was to leave the editorial team confident to continue the work we started together on its own. We’re pleased to see they’ve been doing exactly that.