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Going Full Steam Ahead with the IRSE’s New Website

A contemporary, navigable website for the IRSE.

Enhancing the Digital Experience for IRSE

The IRSE is the professional institution for all those engaged in, or associated with, railway signalling and telecommunications, train control, traffic management, and allied professions. As such, they needed a website that emphasised everything that their organisation represented.

Their previous site was built internally on a now-outdated version of SharePoint, presenting several issues. The site was dated, and no longer represented the IRSE’s brand or values. As well as this, it wasn’t mobile responsive and didn’t provide a great user experience. To add to the problem, very few members of IRSE staff had the technical knowledge to update the site so content quickly became outdated. To work around this constraint, staff had begun adding new content by creating PDFs and manually attaching them to existing pages as ‘Related Documents’. Unfortunately, this led to a lot of valuable content being unable to surface correctly due to limited search functionality and poor navigation. This also harmed the overall SEO ranking of the website. One of the main issues the IRSE faced was a need to improve the overall UX. There were several microsites for areas like exam information and continued professional development (CPD) information, but finding these materials was challenging. The pages that did exist within the main site were inconsistent – the ‘Local Area’ pages were visually different from each other and didn’t contain the same information. From a user’s perspective, the site was fairly unclear. IRSE’s goal was to significantly enhance their online presence, showcasing a site that was much more fitting for their brand. They tasked Cantarus with entirely redesigning and re-platforming the site, so it was in-line with their brand guidelines, and responsive across all devices.

A Fresh, Contemporary Redesign

We built a functional, fully responsive website for the IRSE on the DNN platform. The new site was designed to be innovative, modern and easier to use, including:

  • Use of opacity on the homepage to make the hero image immediately visible,
  • A longer search function to provide a more interactive search for users,
  • Bold dropdown boxes from the main navigation bar,
  • Use of multiple tiles to give the user faster direction,
  • Carousel feature to hold more content than a static image, and help guide the user to different areas within the site.

Refining the User Experience
A key requirement of the project was improving navigation and providing a better UX. As such, we restructured the main navigation to have six menu items to keep things simple. Navigation across the site is much more intuitive thanks to appropriate sign-posting sitewide, and our Cantarus mega-menu module which allows IRSE to feature certain news or upcoming events.
To tackle the inconsistency of the previous site, we templated the new site so each page followed a consistent layout and contained the same information, to ensure a seamless experience for users.

Re-Platforming to DNN
We built the site on DNN – an enterprise-level CMS – to allow IRSE more control over their content. The site can be edited with no technical skills required, so content can be kept up-to-date effortlessly. With DNN’s modular structure, we were able to build the site with an easily extensible architecture, allowing IRSE to adapt and evolve their web offering over time.
We also migrated the microsites into the main site, considerably reducing the prior laborious process required in the site’s administration. In particular, the ‘Licensing’ section (which was previously a microsite) contained some great content, so migrating this into the main site massively improved SEO. It is now much easier for users to find exactly what they need.
Previously, SEO wasn’t performing too well due to the limitations of the old system. One of the benefits of DNN is its built-in SEO tools for metadata. These can easily be handled by content managers who might not even have prior technical knowledge.
A vital factor of IRSE’s member value proposition (MVP) is accessing the latest resources and publications. Therefore, it was crucial that these materials had limited access and were only visible to IRSE members on the new site. By leveraging DNN’s built-in granular permission controls and deeply integrating with IRSE’s CRM system, we have empowered IRSE with the ability to show and hide content on a user-by-user basis.

The Results

The IRSE team are really pleased with the success of the new site, and the improved user experience in general. Particular stand-out statistics include:

  • 497,524 pageviews in the last 6 months,
  • Bounce rate of 9.95% in the last 6 months,
  • 3m 45s average session duration,
  • 42.2% of all users via organic search – showing SEO has considerably improved.

Cantarus have done an excellent job in refreshing the IRSE website, providing a cleaner, more modern and simple experience for users. From start to finish of the project, the team were fantastic and communicated well with IRSE, so we were always aware of what was happening. We are highly impressed with the functionality of the new site and how much easier it is from a user’s perspective. This refresh will be exceedingly beneficial going forward.

Blane Judd, Chief Executive