Katie Lee from St Stephen's School was feeling frustrated.
In her Manager role, she had inherited a range of websites she was responsible for. One of them was an under-performing school community Business Directory.
The intended purpose of the school's Business Directory was to allow verified parents to advertise their businesses to the St Stephen's School community.
The actual problem was that the school's then-Business Directory just didn't work very well at all. It was a headache to use and maintain.
An inflexible design and recurring technical issues.
A locked-down system requiring specialist developer resources for all changes.
A site design inconsistent with St Stephen's colours, fonts, and design.
Users finding it difficult to navigate.
All of which meant that the Business Directory wasn't being fully adopted by the community it was meant to be supporting. Signups were underwhelming and usage had flatlined.
To make matters worse, the problems that kept coming up required a lot of manual intervention from Katie and her staff. This was taking attention from other projects. It was frustrating.
Katie decided Diginomic should build a new Business Directory for her school.
What the new Business Directory needed to achieve to be considered a success
Katie had some very clear objectives for the new school Business Directory. The new solution needed to:
Look like "St Stephen's" in terms of styling, colours, language.
Be secure, fast, and hosted in Australia.
Provide a smooth user experience for parents.
Provide an intuitive user experience for staff.
Ensure businesses were searchable in a variety of ways.
Be as automated as possible to minimise manual work for staff.
Password protected, with approval on new registrations from staff.
Flexible enough to adapt as future requirements changed.
The solution Diginomic delivered
This was a fun job. There were enough little quirks to keep it interesting. What was great was that we had the opportunity to over-deliver.
Certain utility with the previous Business Directory solution was so rigid that Katie's team had created processes around these limitations and started to think of them as unavoidable.
We got the chance to demonstrate new efficiencies that introduced new functionality and improved old functionality.
This saved Katie and her team time and hassles. This meant more capacity for her team to promote St Stephen's School.
Additionally, our new solution was a heck of a lot more user friendly as an administrator. This meant cost-savings for Katie as she no longer had to pay an external developer for minor content changes.
So how did we go?
Request 01 Must look like "St Stephen's" in terms of styling, colours, language
The new school Business Directory was designed to provide a seamless experience between the main St Stephen's Site.
Colours, styling, fonts, and design elements were recreated to be consistent and match established St Stephen's elements throughout.
Request 02 Be secure, fast, and hosted in Australia
We set up the site on a premium managed-hosting dedicated server based in Australia. This gave the site the best hosting for speed and security.
We ensured the site was forced HTTPS with an SSL security certificate. Daily site backups are there as a safety net.
Registration forms were all protected from spam through Google ReCAPTCHA integration.
All user passwords were self-nominated by the users themselves and forced to be a certain level of high complexity. Passwords are stored in an encrypted format.
Request 03 Provide a smooth user experience for parent business owners
We utilised leading UX principles and usability techniques to make the site easy to use and straightforward.
Clear guidance and smart navigation help guide people towards exactly what they need to do at each stage of the journey.
The site is also fully responsive, looking great on desktop and mobile.
Request 04 Provide an intuitive user experience for staff
Staff now also have a drag-and-drop editor for easy and simple on-page content edits.
Video instructions were recorded, along with personalised training to ensure Katie and her team were up to speed with all the functionality they could utilise.
Request 05 Ensure businesses were searchable in a variety of ways
After login, businesses are searchable by:
Parent Name (Business Representative)
Category of business
Which is a big jump from the previous solution's utility (which only offered limited search capabilities.)
Request 06 Be as automated as possible to minimise manual work for staff
We built this with a real emphasis on self-service Business Directory users. They are in charge of their login/password, and if they forget they are in charge of resetting it - all of which is automated.
When registering their business, users self-nominate the category and services most applicable to their business. These form the basis for how they appear in directory searches - so a business representative has incentive to be thorough and accurate.
New Business Spotlight (featured business) pages are automatically formatted and ordered by Most Recent date reducing manual work and ensuring consistency.
Request 07 Password protected, with approval on new registrations from staff
The site has an introductory layer of pages that are available to the public and help to talk up the benefits of the Business Directory.
When a new user registers their details, their membership access is paused until one of Katie's team confirms they are permitted access.
This comes through via an automated email with a one-click approval for staff after manual verification. Staff, at all times, have the administrator ability to suspend user accounts.
Request 08 Flexible enough to adapt as future requirements changed
The site has been developed in WordPress, which gives a huge amount of flexibility for any future requirements as needed.
Additional plugins utilised for the solution are established and well-supported.
Crucially this means the Business Directory is not chained to Diginomic in any sketchy "hostage" style relationship with a forced service agreement longterm. They are more common than you'd think.
We prefer to keep our clients through good service 🙂
The successful result
A great public shout out from Katie on LinkedIn:
And a glowing review Katie left for us on Google:
We're stoked this project went well. Katie's told us that parents are big fans of the new directory, finding it much easier to use than the previous system.
Registrations are up, and Katie and her team are now using the increased popularity of the site to promote other events applicable to parents and community members.
Do you need an online business directory designed and built?
Are you from a school or community that wants to highlight and promote your member's businesses?
Well we have experience in making business directory websites. We do it well.