Continual Improvement… did someone say ‘digital transformation'

3 years ago…

We launched a brand new website for Sheffield Students’ Union. In digital 3 years is a long time. In some ways, the beauty of working with digital is that it enables continual improvement. This brings challenges and opportunities. As technology progresses, we can make our services better.

In Lucky Dip #Vol 7 we welcomed your feedback on our latest iteration of the homepage

Here, we’re sharing previews of two more new websites for the Students’ Union: and a new home for Give It A Go

Both sites go live this weekend to students and we're really happy to introduce them at the start of a new academic year and boost the SUs digital services.

Why? Our primary objective is a more fluid user experience. Prior to this work, our websites looked different from each other. You could see they were related but perhaps not all in the same family, more distant relatives. They provided useful services but we knew they needed improvement.

SU’s old website design

We’ve employed user centered design techniques, with problem solving using Design Sprints developed by Google Ventures. Focused on delivering continued improvement and the user experience for students to all our websites. And of course part of this work is keeping pace with an ever changing digital landscape.

Side by side / / Give It A Go

Prototyping the user flow side by side in the 4 sites

3, then 4 becomes the lucky number

We had a breakthrough moment. There was an inclination and a drive to get the most bang for our buck, to run the new homepage project and the new website for Sheffield Volunteering in parallel.

  • We could gain from the combined work, with Dust working with us on both projects to lead the design.
  • This would also give them more budget in total and be more economical for the SU.
  • By running the projects in parallel, Dust and the SU teams could combine thinking and each project benefit from the other.
  • Ultimately, as Dust worked with us to create the new SU ID and roll out of our new strategy ‘Ours for life’. This work would also help with the introduction and application of the new ID on our most used digital assets. Students and stakeholders of all kinds get to see and interact first hand.

Back to that breakthrough. The new, would be moving from a now very out of date bespoke site, built some 10 or more years ago, to MSL. The platform we use for 90% of our ticketing. We’ve added their Volunteering module for this project.

Old, old Sheffield volunteering website
The new

One of the challenges? How could we solve the issue of users going from one platform to another, within our extended family of websites. And not feel like they were going from completely unrelated websites that all work in different ways?

Well it turned out to be a simple and elegant solution. You can see below the new header and navigation hamburger for

Mobile & desktop header & hamburger navigation

How about we use the same header and navigation across all our websites! Eureka moment ⚡️. Sounds simple, in reality this was tough to deliver but boy does this deliver on user experience.

We’ll be watching the numbers and have high hopes for when the student return in earnest. Also worth a shout out, are the extraordinary achievements of the SUs student web designers working with the digital team. What they’ve achieved in extraordinary.

Bonus time

So this team delivered the new homepage on time for A-Level results.

  • We delivered a new Sheffield Intro 2017 section, built in the new style guide developed from these two projects.
  • We’re now applying these design styles to all new section builds. Have a look at the new SU Council Elections 2017 section and get ready for many more over the coming months.
  • You also get a preview of the brand new Give It A Go homepage built on MSL. This goes live to students this weekend. The new homepage has been possible due to the resources and application of the Sheffield Volunteering new website project = bang for your buck.
  • Here’s another example of our new build skills and design style guide application for Academic Reps section.

There’s more…

  • Student Society pages have all been re-styled. Societies have a new support section and digital tools support section (new styling coming soon).
  • Sign in – is now consistent on our two platforms, UnionCloud & MSL. You can try to spot the difference here and here.
  • We’ve re-styled the purchase flow pages for societies events and digital memberships.
  • Our main ticketing site is now consistent in design styling.
  • For elections we’ve re-styled the voting experience. It’s looks so much better and you’ll get to see it when voting opens in October for SU Councililors.
  • And those hamburger navigation menus, have opening times embedded (3–5th most popular page on our sites). Making the menu more useful and encouraging exploration of all our services. They also work like a dream on mobile. Bang for your buck!

We really hope you enjoy the new designs and sites. Mostly we hope you see them as one big family of services, fore-filling students needs. We look forward to working on more over the coming months and here’s to continual improvement…


For more digital insights, visit the Lucky Dip Library here