BUFDG is the representative body for higher education finance staff in the UK. The website is primarily for use by its 3,500 members. Although the previous site was adequate, it did not fully meet the needs of the team responsible for its management. Content was served to visitors in a menu structure; it was essentially a Brochure site with a News section and relied on the user having some knowledge of the way content was classified. As a result, the user experience (UX) was relatively poor.

The BUFDG team approached Derventio Education to develop the website and a cloud based system for uploading, managing and tagging various forms of documentation. Additionally, they wanted functionality to allow the site to serve as a valuable community for users.

A solution was developed on the Microsoft platform that is easy for the BUFDG team and members to use. The inspiration was a ‘dashboard/iPad’ style design, based on a 3 column structure. Rather than requiring users to navigate their way to documents or information, a user simply enters a search query and all relevant results are displayed. Furthermore, data is intelligently linked to facilitate browsing and encourage a ‘social’ aspect to the site. For example, a user may search for a particular document. The results may show that another user has ‘favourited’ it and has mentioned it in the forum. The user can then join in the discussion.

The site has proved very popular with the BUFDG team and users themselves, and has gained considerable ‘traction’. It has also had a number of additional benefits, including the enhanced dissemination of best practice.

A similar site has also been launched for the Higher Education Procurement Academy, and Derventio Education are now working with another sister organisation to deliver a similar solution to their members.

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