The Challenge

Brunel University in West London is one of the UK's top universities, having been ranked in the top 2% of global academic institutions. It currently has a study body of over 15,000 and draws a diverse range of students from over 110 countries around the globe. Founded in 1966 and named for the great British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the university has flourished in recent years with large investments in social technologies, accommodation and facilities.

Brunel's website had been running on a legacy system for a number of years. Like most legacy software, it worked well initially but soon failed to meet the growing requirements of a modern university.

Brunel's student body was growing rapidly, with the vast majority of new students being drawn from the Millennial Generation - in other words, they had high digital expectations for dynamic and social content which were not being met by the university's tired website. There was also growing demand for greater access to information like course schedules and subject outlines, which was increasing the already heavy load on Brunel's system.

These two factors served as the initial catalyst in Brunel's search for a new digital solution.

The project needed to include an entirely new technology solution, new graphic design scheme, university-wide roll out and extensive training.

The first challenge, therefore, was communicating the significant scale of the project to the Brunel University board and gaining their support and approval.

Another challenge lay in the diverse requirements of different audiences, such as prospective students, current students, media, and the general public. All of these users would need access to different types of information including course finders, event calendars, staff directories and department details. It was also vital that every piece of information be completely up to date and accessible at all times.

Finally, the site needed to accommodate a large number of different schools and departments, each with their own specific content and functionality requirements. This meant that a one size fits all approach just wouldn't do.

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The Solution

A digital agency who gets the technology

Brunel chose to engage with Squiz because we not only built the technology (Matrix) but we know how to use it. Because we know our software like the back of our hand, our team of strategists, UX, graphic designers and support specialists is uniquely qualified to develop sound, reliable and world-class online solutions.

Design for the people

Because Brunel was looking to overhaul their brand as well as their website, Squiz's experienced and creative graphic design team was brought on to make sure that the university's online presence aligned with its dynamic and diverse offline presence. It was also important that the site be accessible to all who visited, so our team followed industry standard best practice guidelines to make the site accessible for all.

Finding the right course

One of the major issues that Brunel was looking to solve was the need for a comprehensive course finder tool. Squiz worked with the various stakeholders to determine how to meet this need in the most agile and responsive manner possible. This began with a research phase that included design and usability exercises to ensure that the course finder would exceed user expectations. Using the powerful integration capabilities of Matrix, a customised solution was developed and integrated seamlessly with the university's existing systems.

Designing for today and tomorrow

Squiz worked with key stakeholders to create a modern, bold design that reflected existing brand guidelines as well as the contemporary feel of the university. Squiz used its unique 'Mashable Design' approach to develop a site that would meet immediate requirements whilst being easily extensible in the future. Matrix's advanced functionality enables modular design elements to be re-used for new requirements as additional sites and departments are rolled out.

The Result

The new site was successfully launched just five months after the project kicked off - an impressive turnaround time for a small internal team. Additional sites and departments have since been rolled out as part of a wider project. Squiz continues to provide ongoing support and guidance as part of a tailored support agreement that includes assistance with development and implementation as needed.

With the intuitive course finder tool, a wide range of social capabilities and a modern design, Brunel University now has an online presence they can be proud of.

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