With 80 great schools across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP) serves one of the fastest growing areas of NSW. Whether it’s through highly successful trade training programs including at CathWest Innovation College, vocational education and training programs across 26 sites or the virtual school School of Now, CEDP is all about using innovation and new thinking to connect students with ‘real world’ opportunities.
Previously running on an earlier version of Sitecore 8 which was implemented poorly, it did not allow native Sitecore functions to work as expected, especially personalisation, marketing optimisation etc., and the templates were basic with a lot of Rich Text container components. This resulted in heavy use of HTML which was handled by a few team members within CEDP. Training of internal staff within limited web technology experience proved a huge challenge.
CEDP wanted to streamline its business operations with a more robust website infrastructure that better reflected its values and ethos, and one that also delivers an exceptional experience to both its internal teams and its external patrons.
Because CEDP’s Sitecore editors and marketers were challenged by some native Sitecore functions not working as expected. it was important to ensure that the new Sitecore instance delivers all the features required to make the editing and reporting process easier.
As a result, CEDP wanted a robust platform that allowed it to meet its business objectives, one of which is to provide an easy way for parents to identify CEDP schools that meet their needs.
Sitecore was the obvious choice to address a whole raft of concerns:
Outdated UX and IA
Fragmented user journeys
Contact management and follow-ups
Content creation capabilities
Persona definition and tracking
User engagement on all CEDP websites
Look-and-feel across the group
A/B and Multivariate testing
Following a demo to showcase Sitecore’s capabilities (which would be perfect for CEDP's digital objectives) our team in Australia got to work.
Because the Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA) fast tracks the development process and minimises build costs, it proved to be the ideal technology to deliver CEDP’s website on a shorter timescale.
As such the website was built using SXA on Sitecore version 10.
Our delivery methodology consists of 5 phases. It follows a hybrid agile approach that gives our customers full flexibility in the way agile processes are adopted.
After initial consultations and various discovery sessions we ran reports and got useful data from Google Analytics to support the strategic success metrics of the project.
Doing this helped us reach a ‘source of truth’. It allowed us to identify key areas that would help in adding value and defining the customer experience. From audience analysis and content to personalisation and agile road-mapping.
This insight flowed into wireframing, Information Architecture (IA), Sitecore personalisation and marketing automation opportunities, each designed to solve problems and achieve success.
Our team responded by updating the IA / sitemap and re-designing the website.
We harnessed SXA's capabilities to build the website from the ground up. We built a diverse library of shareable templates and over fifteen content components with varying functionality.
This overhaul was aimed to not only deliver an exceptional customer experience, but to also improve the look and feel of the website and to make CEDP’s editing capabilities a lot easier.
A diverse website with many facets needs optimum and user-friendly search capabilities. Our team did exactly this by overhauling and refining CEDP's search capabilities.
With so many schools, it was important to define CEDP’s four key personas. Once done, they were assigned to relevant content in Sitecore.
Our digital experience team worked closely with CEDP to devise and implement an effective personalisation strategy aimed at driving enrolments, increasing engagement, and reducing bounce rates.
As with any organisation, communication with its audience is vital. Using SXA's integration capabilities we connected CEDP's social accounts into one field. This 'mash-up' approach provides the flexibility to choose the desired social channel to post on, whether YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, or Facebook.
Measuring success is essential to improvement. As a result we identified KPIs and put in place a robust measurement framework focussing on three key areas that can be measured in Sitecore’s Experience Analytics, Experience Profile and in Google Analytics:
Marketing (traffic engagement etc.)
People (schools trained etc.)
Technology (page load etc.)
The new website offers a 'clutter free' design with a much better usability than the outgoing one. It oozes quality and exudes confidence while aligning with CEDP's core values. The website is well laid out, informative yet succinct. There are Call-to-Actions throughout, guiding visitors to conversion points.
Its much-improved look and feel has improved the engagement and the user experience.
Since its launch in January 2022 the new CEDP website has seen an 80% uplift in traffic with the bounce rate dropping by 12%.
Two search types have been added to the new website: General search and 'Find a School.' Both are intuitive, simple, and effective. For general search users enter the desired keywords and filter their search based on 'Page Type'.
The 'Find a School' feature is integrated with Google Maps. It also includes two fields, one with a dropdown listing the type of school, the other a suburb or postcode field which has predictive autofill capabilities.
Personalisation has been implemented to various pages throughout the website, which include the Home Page Hero Carousel using both Sitecore out of the box rule engine, as well as a custom rule developed by Codehouse to achieve decay.
For example, the user experiences the Open Day Hero Carousel, which has a call to action and hyperlink around promoting the Open Day Page which has information on the Open Days of all CEDP schools during key enrolment periods. After the visitor has completed the goal, or if the visitor does not complete the goal within three home page loads, the visitor is presented with alternative/personalised messaging promoting the CEDP Difference on the Why Us page, before reverting to the default Hero Carousel.
Personalisation is also triggered by pattern matches, campaigns, and goals.
From a content perspective, simplified editing capabilities will deliver a consistent authoring experience across all 80 school websites for CEDP's content team.
This has led to content being created a lot easier and most importantly, quicker, using SXA components. In particular, the ability to customise the colour themes of said components to ensure brand/school consistency and tone. The enhanced editing capabilities have also quickened training for new team members.
In addition, CEDP's content teams now can create and publish global messages to schools across the entire network. These include news articles, alerts and announcements.
The integration of CEDP's social media channels and a consolidated social feed component ensures that content editors can easily add social content directly through Sitecore.
When each school’s site is operational, it will be able to post to social channels a lot easier because every school's social feed is dynamically updated with the most recent social posts. This fluidity ensures that each school is always up-to-date with whatever is being posted on social media channels, be it Facebook, Instagram YouTube, or Vimeo.
Summary of results
Experience Editor has been a 'game changer' for CEDP content editors. It has allowed them to quickly and easily maintain and update content on any page using a simple and easy to use visual editor.
The ability to apply a ‘Theme’ and configure the layout of all Sitecore components allows CEDP to use the same components on all its 80 school websites while allowing each to have its own ‘look and feel’.
CEDP is saving a significant amount of time and reducing double handling for content editors by connecting Sitecore with third party systems - such Google Calendar, social media providers, SharePoint, SQL Server Data Warehouse and even its in-house CRM.
CEDP can push articles, announcements, and event promotions to any or all the 80 school websites in an enterprise manner as required, saving hours of manual handling and duplication.
Custom rules based on decay allows CEDP to show personalised content to visitors.
Ability to test page components and pages.
A more refined search capability and Google Maps integration allows website visitors to locate schools easily and accurately.80% uplift in traffic.
Decreasing bounce rate.
CEDP launched its system site on 27 January 2022 and is currently building the first batch of its school sites for rollout in Q2.
Visit the CEDP website at www.parra.catholic.edu.au