Hartpury University and Hartpury College Partners since 2022

Transforming Hartpury's Digital Presence 

Established in 1948, Hartpury University and Hartpury College are renowned education providers specialising in animal, agriculture, equine, sport, and veterinary nursing studies. With over 4,500 students pursuing various qualifications, Hartpury's Gloucestershire campus stands as a beacon of excellence in education. With a working farm, championship rugby team, and world-class equine facilities all on-site, Hartpury is a truly unique institution. 

To support their strategic objectives, Hartpury was looking to enhance their digital presence by replacing their existing website, and two associate websites with a rebuilt solution on a newer version of the Umbraco content management system (CMS) that put all the sites under one roof. As trusted Umbraco Platinum Partners, Cantarus was tasked with delivering an engaging new website for Hartpury that would not only meet the institution's functional requirements, but also elevate their online presence. 

The project goals were clear: 

  • Enhance the user experience 
  • Effectively promote the Hartpury brand 
  • Seamlessly integrate all websites into a unified ecosystem 
  • Provide intuitive navigation and clearer signposting

The Challenge 

Hartpury faced several hurdles in delivering an optimal user experience and ensuring visitors could easily find relevant information. The presence of four individual subsites compounded this issue further. The homepage toggle (to choose between University or College) lacked clarity, making it too easy for users to stumble into the wrong place. Moreover, a limited colour palette restricted the site's visual appeal. 

To add to the challenge, the project operated on a tight schedule, with a 6-week design phase, including a week for user testing, due to the strict deadline imposed by Umbraco 7’s end-of-life. 

Our Solution 

We set out to get a deep understanding of Hartpury’s unique culture and brand. This encompassed a series of in-person and online workshops, as well as speaking with Hartpury students and internal stakeholders, which enabled us to really immerse ourselves in the organisation and get a better understanding of key user journeys. 

We also ensured continuous usability testing throughout the project to gather real-time feedback, ensuring that the website met the needs of its users. 

Simplicity through Design

One of the main focuses of the new site was to improve and enhance the user experience, streamline journeys, and ultimately drive conversion rates for student applications and enrolments. We consolidated all subsites into a single platform, massively simplifying the user experience by removing any unnecessary menu items. 

Previously, navigation was cluttered, meaning content pages were often buried several layers deep. Now, the restructured navigation is more intuitive than ever, allowing users to find content quickly and easily. 

As well, the implementation of structured, reusable content templates empowers the Hartpury team to maintain consistency and enjoy a more intuitive content editing experience. 

A strong focus on interactive design added personality to the Hartpury site; playful hover states and engaging, immersive UI components helped to elevate the work and create a bold and memorable user experience. 

Accessibility by Default 

At Cantarus, accessibility is built in to all our digital services, so the Hartpury website was no exception. The application of Hartpury’s broader colour palette was meticulously designed to meet accessibility guidelines. 

Our Experience Design team leveraged an amazing suite of visual assets, including video content and rich photography. We ensured that accessibility needs were met by including a clear pause button on all video components and avoided overlaying text onto imagery. Our UX specialists conducted multiple usability tests to assess if the website was clear and intuitive for prospective students and their parents. 

The Result

The end result is a website that strikes a balance between simplicity, while aligning with Hartpury’s mission and objectives. The revamped website is a dynamic hub for students, staff, partners, and stakeholders alike, offering an experience that feels natural and instinctive, rather than a slog. 

18% More Engaged Sessions Per User
90 SEO Score
99.7% Good URLs, up from 65.4%

We couldn't be happier with the exceptional work Cantarus has done in delivering our new website. The team demonstrated a deep understanding of our unique needs and translated them into a visually stunning and highly functional platform. We’re so pleased with the result, and feedback so far has been very positive. We’re well positioned now for the future, and we can’t wait to see what’s to come next for Hartpury. 

Rob Powell Digital Marketing Manager 

Headshot of Cantarus' Head of Experience Design, Rob

Want to know more?

Our Head of Experience Design, Rob Helsby, would love to chat with you about your design and brand needs.

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