With all this in mind we looked into their analytics and how users used the current site. With such a high volume of visitors you can’t just go changing things without good reason!
Detailed, annotated wireframes make for happy designers.
“Shouldn't we synchronise our watches?”
The first, and most important part of the project, was getting all the EUI’s events into Contensis. With almost twenty thousand records this was no mean feat. Luckily we had Alan Roberts, our chief miracle worker, on hand to make it happen.
Following discussions with the EUI’s developers, he created an events importer that runs silently in the background, importing the events, on the fly, from a third party system used by all departments across the university’s fourteen or so campus locations. This enabled us to bring in all that data and store it as structured content — without anything changing for the end user. They still add, update and delete events in the same way they always have.
With the data flowing into Contensis, we set about the process of rebuilding the directory from the ground up.
“Hang on a minute lads - I've got a great idea”
Together with the ever amiable Alan, we set about planning the best way to meet all the client requirements, while keeping things as logical and clear as possible. We think we nailed it.
Using Razor and a modular approach, we split up the search logic from the listings, allowing us to offer multiple layouts for their users to choose from. This also means that they are able to easily add new layouts in the future too.
Our decision to break it all up paid off immediately, with both Alan and I able to work on different parts of the project without worrying about getting in each other's way. Not only that, it also meant that the code was logically separated so adding or amending features would be really simple going forward.
And, using Razor meant that the EUI had full access to all of the markup to make any changes they needed. Everyone wins!
“Make it work, Charlie!”
The last, and most crucial step of the project was to tackle the complex search requirements.
Being able to filter by department and/or event type, date ranges and keywords from item titles, participants, descriptions and much more, needed a rock solid plan of attack, otherwise things could just get really messy.
Because we’d kept all the search logic together it was relatively straightforward to keep track of this. After much testing we finally had everything working as it should.
We pushed the project through our intensive internal testing process, and even roped in a few others from around the company to help test. Finally, all that was left to do was deliver the project. And with the EUI being based in beautiful Florence, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hand over in person, as well as meet the team at the university with whom we had worked so closely for the past few months.
“Just remember this - in this country they drive on the wrong side of the road.”
With such a big project, we felt it was important to hand over in person, especially since we had worked very close with the web team at the EUI for so long. While the main purpose of our visit to Florence was to hand over the project, it turned out to be much more useful for both parties.
Francesco Martino, the web communications manager at the EUI said that "Working with Zengenti has been a very positive experience. Since completing this project those of us in the EUI Web Unit have a renewed sense of collaboration with the team at Zengenti. We look forward to working closely with them again in the future."
Not only did we have to opportunity to properly showcase and hand over the work we’d done, but we also conducted some training, demonstrated some of the new features in R8.1 plus, the guys at the EUI also gave us some really good feedback and even some suggestions for us to relay to the product development team, none of which would have been possible had we simply handed the project over remotely. Altogether, we spent two really valuable days with the web team, which really helped us see how our clients use Contensis.
You can see the final result here.
With the project successfully completed and handed over to the EUI, all that was left to do was head home. But, obviously, not before we took the opportunity to have a quick look around Florence.