• Digital Strategy
  • Web Design
  • Web Development

Higher Education WordPress Multisite

Website design for one of Cambridge University’s largest colleges.

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The brief 

Churchill College approached Crucible with an exciting challenge and opportunity to completely redesign their college website. And as one of Cambridge University’s largest colleges, Churchill had a range of requirements for the new site

The objectives were to transform the website to become user-focused, lean and efficient, while adding life and delight to the digital identity. The Churchill team wanted to remove content duplication across the site and ensure the website had the breadth of functionality required, at the same time as being easy for their website managers and content editors to use and maintain.  

With the previous website having been in use since 2014, the site had become large and complex. New pages and areas of the site had been added without enough focus on the user, meaning the site had become difficult for students and other user groups to navigate through. Journeys through the website had become unclear and were no longer intuitive. 

The college also has a reputation for being modern and welcoming in Cambridge, and it was felt that their previous website was too dark, and potentially intimidating for new students. One of our key goals was to therefore provide a light, clean experience that focused on Churchill’s ethos and character.

Before After
Desktop screenshot of Churchill College Website
Churchill College Website Homepage

UX-focused web design 

Crucible’s web design team were keen to start from the beginning, looking at the user journeys through the site and setting out a clear UX-led rationale to the page and content structure. 

With a website that had become confusing and complicated, it was important that the user journeys for the new site were clearly defined, and were then fed into the new website structure. 

This approach ensured that the information architecture for the website was UX and evidence based, and would result in a smooth and easy navigation experience through the site. 

A detailed and comprehensive information architecture and sitemap definition process was run on an agile basis alongside design and development, with each section of the site being built around the briefed and defined user personas to create simple, uncluttered journeys.

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Churchill College Website Redesign

A lean, efficient systems approach

As a large college with an ageing website and associated systems, Churchill was no longer running with a cost-efficient approach at the point of starting the website project. 

Working closely with the Churchill team, Crucible reviewed the college’s system portfolio, suggesting improvements and changes to transform system efficiency. 

As well as a user-focused website, the Crucible team were committed to making sure Churchill’s other systems integrated seamlessly across the website. This included various proprietary booking systems and calendars for the college’s various areas of functionality.

Churchill College website on mobile

Custom integration 

To ensure Churchill’s systems would integrate correctly, a bespoke WordPress plug-in was developed, enabling the website to integrate with the university’s Raven platform. 

This custom integration allowed Churchill’s systems to work together seamlessly, saved the college significant costs, and allowed users from across Cambridge University to log in and interact with the site using their university IDs.

Multi-site WordPress development

The college had a broad set of departments and multiple admin users that required distinct levels of access and functionality. Our team recommended WordPress Multisite for Churchill to ensure all the needs of the college departments would be met, with multiple child sites structured around a central core website. This approach ensured that the most streamlined digital product was delivered while meeting all of Churchill’s requirements. 

A Multisite install means that one theme in WordPress can be created and easily duplicated – so departments, societies and other interested groups can work with the college to easily set up new child site instances in future. But it also means that for website managers and content editors, content is quick and easy to find and edit – with only the navigation within their own child site to focus on. This approach to the Churchill website is predicted to transform efficiency in the college in terms of content management system (CMS) usage, and will enable website editing to be completed with ease and speed.

The result

Churchill’s investment into their new website has enabled a fundamental transformation in the college’s digital identity and presence. From inflated, complex and dated, to bright, lean and clear, the Crucible team was committed to ensuring that a streamlined, user-focused website was delivered on time and on budget for the college. 


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