CILT’s New Website has Launched!
The Institute’s new website went live at the end of March. The new streamlined design provides members, students and exam takers with greater functionality, more features, and an easy to use interface.
In 1996 Bill Gates wrote an essay entitled “Content is King” in which the Microsoft CEO predicted the impact the internet would have on every facet of human life. At that stage only 1% of the world was online and company websites were a rarity, yet Gates asserted, “If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business”.
In today’s world though we all understand how important it is for a company to not just have a website but a strong one at that. In 2017 the first interaction a customer or client has with an organisation is through their website so it’s vital that their first impression is a good one. Poor content, design and inability to access the information quickly, can all drive customers away. For many years CILT’s old website served the organisation well, however, as customers expected greater functionality online, its effectiveness dwindled. Last year the decision was made to build a new site which would better reflect CILT’s remit.
The Starting Point
To begin, a consultation process was carried out with all stakeholders to ascertain what the key functions of the new site should be. Then, from that, a comprehensive list of requirements was established. Two key points decided early on were that the website should be easy to access and should allow for the integration of all systems and databases in a secure environment. WordPress was chosen over DNN (Dot Net Nuke) as the content management system and variant levels of security would cater for the different types of users – members, administrators, students, course providers and the public. The site would be accessible from all locations and contain many in-built security features to ensure the safety of all personal data and compliance with all data protection requirements.
The future of CILT and how it will provide products to customers going forward played a significant role in this early decision making process. CILT staff were keen for the new site to provide greater assistance to members, students and exam takers, whether that was being able to download an application for a replacement CPC certificate or pay their annual membership online. These requests factored heavily into the plans for the new site which provides a common administration approach for all CILT products and exams, engages new technologies by the use of a commercial, well developed database and has the facility to support e-commerce.
The initial consultation stage was a long and careful process and every effort was taken to ensure that finance was not the only factor when it came to selecting the best solutions for the new site. Following discussions with a number of web design companies, Inventise, was selected to create CILT’s new website. The Bray based company has a history of working with not-for-profits and education bodies and has built sites for the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) and the National College of Ireland. It was felt this experience would be a distinct advantage in helping the Institute achieve its vision.
Design and Usability
The design for the new website focused on clarity and user friendliness. Taking the CILT logo as a starting point, a simple palette of purple, white and gold has been used throughout. These three colours bring a sense of cohesion and elegance without overshadowing the content. Extensive use of white space also enables visitors to scan the site easily.
Of course, it is usability, not visual design that determines the success or failure of a website. The visitor is the one who clicks the mouse and decides everything; if they can’t travel around a site easily they aren’t likely to stay long. Fortunately, the new CILT website is very user focused, utilising simple, intuitive, and functional navigation. On the landing page the main navigation tabs – “About Us”, “Join CILT” and “Education and Exams” – appear on the top right hand side, while underneath the CILT banner is a carousel feature highlighting the Institute’s core messages followed by a series of examination and course buttons. For a visitor seeking more details about the Diploma in Logistics and Supply Chain Management then it is easy to find an answer – either click on the “Diploma” button in the centre of the landing page or navigate easily via the “Education and Exams” tab at the top.
Careful consideration has been given to how the site’s pages should link, adapting to the user’s interests and needs without them having to do much at all. For example, a new visitor who arrives at the “Get Involved” page will find direct links to not just how to become a member but also the individual CILT regional sections and the committee and council pages. All of the website pages are quick loading too so the visitor will never become frustrated when using the site.
In early January, the gathering of content for the website began. Ultimately, a user comes to a website for information so content is crucial. Visitors appreciate quality and credibility and they were foremost in our mind when preparing CILT’s content. Some information already in existence on the old site was checked and rewritten; however in the vast majority of cases the entire website’s content was prepared from scratch.
CILT staff assisted greatly in this preparation, ensuring details, in particular those for the ADR, CPC and DGSA exams, was comprehensive and clear. For some pages, like “Institute History”, council members proved an invaluable help, supplying dates and additional facts. You can now read a detailed outline of the evolution of the Institute on the new website.
Once all the content was collated and checked it was then rewritten to incorporate SEO keywords. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), for those who don’t know, is the name given to activity that improves a website’s search engine rankings. One main way of achieving this is by writing strong, user driven content that includes the words and phrases used by people who search for your company’s products and services. In the case of the CILT website, great care was taken to ensure the relevant keywords were used throughout each page without hampering the content’s readability.
Much work was also done on ensuring there was a uniform layout to the content. Each course page in the new CILT Skillnet programme begins with the same fundamental information – description of the course, application requirements, duration, dates and fee. Ensuring key details appear first is a feature throughout the site, as is the breaking down of information into clearly defined chunks and the utilisation of bullet point lists. Visitor to websites do not read content as you would a book or newspaper, instead they scan the page seeking fixed points or anchors which will guide them. By providing headings and bullet points you help them understand each page faster and ensure they locate the material they require.
There are over 140 pages on the new CILT website. Once each content page was finalised and the relevant imagery selected, they were sent individually to Inventise for uploading. When all content was finally present, CILT staff reviewed the site, noting any errors or changes that were required. Both the communications manager and education services officer received training in how to amend details on the site and, after corrections were made, the new site launched at the end of March.
CILT’s new website can be found at the same address: www.cilt.ie. It has now been live for a month and in that time we have invited council members to review it and provide their thoughts on further changes they would like made. These amendments will be discussed in May and a further review of the site completed.
We are delighted that the new website has received universally positive feedback. The Institute’s aim has always been to launch the new site once all content and design was finalised before then starting the final phase. At present, work is ongoing in relation to the ‘Members Area’ and ‘Registration’ sections of the website. When completed, members will be able to log in to these secure areas using their email address and a password. Also, the news and events sections will grow and there is the possibility of starting a CILT blog but perhaps the biggest work will be putting new systems into place which will increase user functionality. It means that visitors will be able to pay for a course or exam from any IT device and course providers will be able to book in exam students online.
This next phase of development will ensure that the CILT website is the main source for all administration records, issuing of licences and certs and will automatically interface to the financial system. Staff will also be able to work from any location or device and the amount of administration paperwork will be reduced, helping to make CILT more efficient.
You can visit the new CILT website at www.cilt.ie.