A customised authoring platform for Deakin University

Insights by Project Lead Liam Coltman

Deakin University’s 2017 campaign

Deakin University is ranked one of the top 3 Universities in Australia and in the top 2% internationally. Over 50,000 students attend its three campuses and it has a strong community of over 12,000 online students.
 
 Ladoo worked in a co-located environment with the Deakin team to rebuild the Deakin website from the ground up, focusing on creating a highly visual and engaging experience for prospective students. The website was built using Deakin’s existing Squiz Matrix instance, which Ladoo configured to meet their business needs. 
 
 We worked as an extension of the Deakin team to understand their internal processes, legacy systems and the integrations they needed to create a category defining website in the Higher-Education sector.

Deakin was experiencing some challenges with distributed authorship in their existing author interface and needed an innovative solution that was manageable. The process was disjointed and difficult to understand, especially for those with limited experience in Squiz Matrix.

Authors were entering their content into a non-intuitive template in the back-end of the site. They had no visibility of what the content looked like within the wider context of the web-page until it was published, making edits arduous and time-consuming.

The new author interface
 We tailored the author interface to fit the needs of Deakin’s content authors by creating an intuitive design that customised the existing Squiz Matrix instance.

Ladoo Project Lead, Liam Coltman said, ‘It wasn’t just about making the website beautiful, it had to be easy for the content to be maintained for B.A.U [Business as Usual]. We see organisations’ who go to great lengths to build new websites and then don’t update them because the process is too difficult.’
 
 How we did it

 Ladoo worked closely with the Deakin’s Digital Marketing team to understand the pain-points in the old process. We created a customised author interface to sit on top of the Squiz CMS. This means creators can see their content within the context of the site, making it easy to manage.

The initial design framework was a set collection of modules, which combined preview and edit in one screen, eliminating the need to go back and forth between screens to view changes. We then extended on this concept in a more visual way, allowing authors to see the full context of their copy and images in one place, before they published.
 
 We wanted the author experience to encourage brand consistency with a set number of templates, as we worked with Deakin we understood that they wanted the freedom to customise these template (in consultation with their style guide) so we created a set of modules that could be bolted together to provide flexibility.
 
 Coltman says, ‘showing the authors how the content displayed in a ‘real-life’ scenario was key to creating a streamlined publishing process and demonstrated to our project team that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to designing for content’.
 
 
 The finished product
The final build was based on a traditional website look and feel but with upgraded design and user experience. Deakin wanted to be able to maintain an attractive and easy to use website, without the complexity of having someone design it from scratch every time.
 
 The author interface was based on the style of an online form, which allowed for flexibility and streamlined the publishing process.
 
 We utilised check boxes and radio buttons, which the authors were comfortable with from using other applications, and simplified the process so that it was easier to train and up-skill new authors (with no Squiz Matrix skills necessary).

Coltman has been a project lead at Ladoo for over 7 years now and says that the Deakin website build was one of the best projects he’s been involved in.

‘It’s the little enhancements that make the difference. People often don’t notice when things are right, but when they are wrong the experience is noticeable.’
 
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 Interested in working with Ladoo? Contact us for a chat.