The Australian Apprenticeships Pathways website was developed to meet the needs of industry insiders (service providers and career advisers), jobseekers and employers who have an interest in Australian apprenticeships. The site is a ‘self help tool’ that is also used by career advisers when discussing options with students. It is managed by Integrated Information Service (IIS), which has been providing consultancy services in the education and training sector since 1998.
Before the launch of the new Apprenticeships Pathways website, IIS had been running two very similar websites, one positioned as a resource for students and jobseekers, and the other aimed towards industry insiders. For many years these sites had run in parallel, with much duplicate content as well as a duplication of effort required to manage them. The sites had also grown organically over time and had become clunky and difficult to navigate – so much so that a significant portion of IIS’s time had become dedicated to simply helping people use the sites.
Further, the piecemeal development of the sites had started to lead to them becoming technically unstable, and they were not responsive across different devices.
The original aim of this project was simply to give the two sites a design refresh and reconsider their information architecture. However, as the project progressed it became clear that a complete rebuild and consolidation was going to be a much more efficient approach in the longer term. The engagement began with a series of workshops to determine the broader strategy and to establish the needs and behaviours of IIS’s key target audiences. Get Started also conducted industry research and an analysis of IIS’s Google Analytics data.
One of the main requirements of this site is that it needed to be able to deal with a huge database of information – incorporating more than 3000 types of data – and deliver the appropriate information to specific user types as quickly as possible. Get Started developed a complex in-site search engine that is able to rapidly and seamlessly tailor the user journey based on a series of parameters such as user type (student, career adviser etc.), location and areas of interest. So with just a few clicks, the user is able to immediately find information that is tailored to their unique characteristics and needs. As the person navigates their way around the site, cookies record their activities and selections, further tailoring the experience so that only relevant information is presented.
The site also includes an Account Portal, where service providers can register to directly manage information about their organisation, including course details, requirements and start dates.
For students and job seekers who aren’t sure of which industries or job types might suit them, the site features a quiz-based section called Career Interest Explorer. This takes participants through a series of questions where they rate answers on a scale of 1 to 5. At the end, the system aggregates their results to give them an indication of the broad areas that they’re strongest in (e.g. Analytics and Scientific, or Artistic and Creative). This then links through to more information on jobs and courses that may be of interest.
Print Style Sheets incorporated throughout the site also mean that information can be printed in a way that looks like a designed handout, rather than a printed website page. This reflects the fact that the site is used a lot in the field, e.g. by schools and at expos, where printed material may be required.
The site was named as an Official Honoree in the prestigious Webby Awards, placing it in the top 18 percent of more than 13,000 entries received from around the globe.
Anecdotal feedback on the site has also been extremely positive, both from IIS and from its broader stakeholder groups. This has been strongly supported by analytics data which provides evidence of greatly improved audience engagement, specifically a marked fall in bounce rates and increases in pages per session and average session durations.
People are now finding that the site is much easier to navigate, cleaner in its aesthetics and just an overall more user-friendly experience. The site now also displays effectively across mobile and tablet devices, which is critical given the high rate of mobile use among the student market. In short, the site’s elegant and simple design and functionality make it very easy and quick for users to digest its vast magnitude of information.
“It is difficult to imagine a more complex website rebuild than the task IIS and Get Started embarked on in late 2016. The site manages around 100,000 pieces of data and a wealth of purpose-built resources. Get Started’s design and technical teams came up with an approach that is enabling people’s access to information relevant to their decision making, and connecting them with the physical networks that can take their enquiry further. Get Started’s solution also ensures that this is happening on the platforms the individual prefers to use. Project implementation was incredibly smooth, with the ‘new site’ readily adopted in the field.”
Ian Marett, Managing Director, Integrated Information Service