Over the last year the entire team at Optix has been busy beavering away on a very exciting new project that we’ve not really been able to tell people about…until now. As part of a regional tender, Optix were chosen by the marketing and communications team at Devon Partnership NHS Trust (DPT), who provide mental health and learning disability services in our region, as their preferred supplier for the design and development of a new website. Their old site had been there for many years and was in need of a decent overhaul.
On a project of this size, lots of things you might not need to consider in a smaller web build come into play. Information architecture (how the site and its content are structured) is key. There are 1000s of pages of content so working out how the user can get to them is a job in itself. Search engine authority and rankings that have built up over many years are critical to the site's traffic and everything must be done to maintain these as best as possible. There are also a multitude of key stakeholders to keep happy, all with a view on aesthetics, functionality and content. DPT don’t like to do things by halves, they also wanted to migrate from one domain name which had been around for over 10 years to a completely new one, another key challenge for our team.
We started the project with a number of workshops. Key stakeholders at DPT were invited to these sessions to give their input. Interviews took place over a number of weeks and feelings on content, designs and functionality were all recorded. Our design team then used an app called Prott to put together 'mobile first' wireframes (designing with mobile in mind before desktop) which helped everyone in the project understand how the site would be laid out and navigated. Particular attention was given to the fact that users of this website could easily be in a difficult personal situation and require help urgently. It was vital that important information was quickly and easily accessible.
After the wire-framing came the design stage. This is a huge site that needed many different templates in its CMS system. The team got to work and created (we would say this) one of the best sites we've designed to date. You can see the before and after pictures below and for a better look around take a look at the site: www.dpt.nhs.uk
A bespoke approach to the back-end build was adopted and towards the end of that period, the team at DPT were able to start inputting their content. A proactive approach to testing was taken with real data while our digital marketing team got to work on the planning of the migration, not just across from an old site to a new site but also changing domain names as well. There is no way to glamourise this process, its hours and hours spent in spreadsheets and analytics programs, tracking important URLs that used to exist and ensuring none of the good authority the site has built up over the years is lost when everything changes over. The day the site goes live and for a few weeks after, careful work is done to monitor any drop off and make changes quickly if necessary.
The result is one we are all extremely proud of at Optix. A flagship account and website which really displays all the hallmarks of our strapline, digital excellence.
Alastair Banks, one of our co-founders says, ‘We were over the moon to be picked by DPT in the first place, we’re even more proud of the resultant website and relationship with our client. Very large projects can often stretch the emotional boundaries of the people involved, especially when they are spread out over many, many months. We’ve developed a very strong bond with the team at DPT and we are now very excited about phase 2 and other projects we have running with them. We are already in the process of building a micro-site to help with their recruitment drive’
Sharon Berkhout, Communications Manager at DPT said, We are really proud of our new website and for the fantastic contribution from Optix in the different phases of the project. They are a creative, innovative, flexible team who really get to know your business and your requirements. Their expertise in all things digital is second to none and we have every confidence that the micro-site will also be a success and help us with our recruitment.
For more information on how Optix can help you with your next website project why not give one of the friendly team a call on 01392 667766