The Link website for Education Professionals in Slough - Site Launch
A belated update here to announce that back in May we launched ‘The Link’ website for education professionals in Slough on behalf of Slough Borough Council. 'The Link' was delivered in collaboration with Arvato (Slough Council's IT support provider) over a six month window, and is a resource hub for educational professionals in Slough, particularly teachers and early years practitioners, and aims to improve the provision of services across the county by providing access to key resources as well as facilitating the sharing of best practice. The project included a comprehensive user research phase, including workshops with key stakeholders from across the Council, including senior leadership, as well as full wireframing and designs for the website. This included developing the core colour scheme for the website and a logo reflecting the website and audience diversity.
The project itself is built using Drupal 8 and, as usual, we worked closely with the client project team, which in this case was part of the Children Learning and Skills Directorate in Slough Borough Council to provide full training on the CMS, as well as documented guides and a series of supporting screencasts illustrating how all key features across the platform operate.
The website is fully responsive and has been built to meet and exceed WCAG 2.0 standards from an accessibility perspective. A range of different templates have been developed as part of this project including a ‘flexible landing page’ option, which allows key sections of the website, such as the homepage, to use a modular paragraph-based approach; in simple terms this means that these sections do not have any typical template restrictions and can respond individually to the needs of the site-builder for that particular section of content, whether that requires text only, imagery, video, social media feeds or a full custom mix. There is no limit to the length of the content on this template, so it can cater just as easily for long, in depth sections as well as brief call to actions. We’re delighted with the end result here and see this approach as something which will be used across future projects for clients; flexibility really is the key going forwards now for content editors.
Before launch, we undertook rigorous stress-testing of the hosting infrastructure and website responsiveness across devices and browsers. This was carried out using BrowserStack and Google PageSpeed Insights, as well utilising the keen eyes of our development and project teams. We also tested our code against Drupal coding standards and the website’s accessibility, checking against WC3 standards. We enabled Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and HotJar to enable the Slough team to track website user interaction.
In order to become the go-to place for educational professionals in the borough, the website needs to be up-to-date at all times. Given the limited internal resource within the Council, we have used an RSS feed in order to automatically pull in news from relevant external sources such as Ofsted, BBC Education, The Key and Children and Young People Now to ensure that dynamic content is always available for users. The website also features a schools directory, links with Nexus, a reporting platform for local authorities to analyse assessment data, and The Key, which provides leadership support and governance for schools.
Given that we support similar educational repositories for Ealing Council and Waltham Forest, this project has been a natural fit for us, and we’ve been able to use lessons learned from those projects to help ensure a smooth development build and launch for The Link. We’re looking forward to seeing how it expands in the future and to develop new features around the community aspect of the website.