Case study: Sunderland Business Centres

SUNDERLAND BUSINESS CENTRES

In spring 2021, we were approached by Sunderland City Council about the possibility of creating new websites for their three business centres – Sunderland Software Centre, Evolve Business Centre, and Washington Business Centre.

After winning the tender with our proposal, we began the process of working closely with the council, the centre manager, and their staff, to understand their requirements. Until then, all three centres had been represented by a single web page on a council website. It had minimal content and the centre manager had no control over it. While all three business centres were doing a fantastic job for their tenants and the organisations they worked with, the lack of fit-for-purpose websites was holding them back in numerous ways and preventing them from shouting about their many successes.

WEBSITES

Our initial work when developing a new website for a client always begins with an in-depth scoping session. This is a collaborative process and involves us talking to all of the stakeholders on the project – in this case, the council, centre manager, and their teams, to get a full understanding of exactly what was needed. This enables us to tailor our work so that it best fits the client’s needs and to ensure our activity is laser-focussed on delivering their objectives. One of the first questions on a web project is to identify what these priorities are. Whether it’s increasing engagement, converting visitors into new clients, providing a platform for success stories and improved communication, or another goal – clear and defined objectives are vital.

WEBSITES

Our initial work when developing a new website for a client always begins with an in-depth scoping session. This is a collaborative process and involves us talking to all of the stakeholders on the project – in this case, the council, centre manager, and their teams, to get a full understanding of exactly what was needed. This enables us to tailor our work so that it best fits the client’s needs and to ensure our activity is laser-focussed on delivering their objectives. One of the first questions on a web project is to identify what these priorities are. Whether it’s increasing engagement, converting visitors into new clients, providing a platform for success stories and improved communication, or another goal – clear and defined objectives are vital.

Sunderland Business Centre Websites
Sunderland Business Centres WIreframes

USER-FRIENDLY DESIGN

Among the requirements for the three business centres was to make the websites community-focussed, interactive, compatible with social media, and optimised for both a mobile and desktop experience. They also needed to be user friendly for both staff and clients. Next, we established key audiences, users, and clientele for the websites. In the case of the business centres, this might be current and prospective tenants for office space and meeting rooms, as well as businesses and organisations from a range of sectors. As part of this, an important question we always put to clients is, how do you want users to engage and interact with your website? Once we understand what you want to achieve, who uses the site, and how you want these groups to interact with your content, we can then look at the technology and consider potential solutions.

This is exactly what we did for Sunderland Business Centre. The result? Three stunning websites with a wide range of features and functionality that the centres and their staff have never had before, each tailored to best represent their unique business offering. These features also include a new, easy-to-use back-end for each of the sites, with ongoing tracking and analytics which staff can review and learn from.

BRAND IDENTITY AND PHOTOGRAPHY

One of the requirements that emerged from the initial scoping session was to ensure that the distinct branding for each of the business centres was reflected in the new website designs, but that each site still felt part of the same family. The three business centres also have their own specialisms and expertise, so it was important to reflect this both in the web design and functionality, but also in the look and feel. This meant ensuring each centre’s website had its own unique visual identity and autonomy while ensuring there were enough parallels between them in terms of layout and structure to help them feel connected. Part of this included creating new, flexible icons and logos and refreshing the content on the pages with new photography assets and messaging provided by our client.

Sunderland Business Centres brand icons
Sunderland Business Centres brand website tracking

ONGOING TRAINING

Even after we completed the design of these new stylish, user-friendly, and highly functional websites at the end of 2021, our work was not over. We provided training and training guides to help empower the centre manager and their teams to get the most out of the websites and have the skills and autonomy to make updates and changes to content in the long-term. Combined with the ongoing tracking and analytics with strategically set goals and objectives for the council to review and learn from, this will help make the new trio of websites fit for purpose and future-proof for years to come.

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