City of Westminster College started the new year in style with a move to a brand new state-of-the-art campus on Paddington Green. The building is designed by award winning international architects, Schmidt Hammer Lassen, who have a track record designing educational facilities and other high profile public buildings.
To coincide with this move, the College also wanted to redevelop their existing website. Parabola have worked with the College for over two and a half years, and in that time have delivered a number of SharePoint systems, so were a natural partner. The new website, available at http://www.cwc.ac.uk, was developed using Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and makes use of some key SharePoint features such as Content Types to support the College's needs.
Firstly the site needed to act as a central marketing tool to attract students and employers and match the College's new brand. This had a number of implications for the project, the main one being the site needed to match the new brand and styling of the College. Parabola worked closely with branding agency, Atelier Works, to ensure the site reflected the required branding objectives accurately.
City of Westminster College also wanted a modern content management system, to help them maintain and update the site in the long term. The College needed a system that was easy to use, offered a rich HTML editing interface and was flexible enough to meet their ongoing needs. It was eventually decided that SharePoint 2010 was the right choice for the project as this also ensured the same CMS tools were used for the Intranet portal and the public facing website. SharePoint offers the power and functionality of a modern content management system, combined with a familiar Windows Interface.
The third significant requirement was the redevelopment of an existing course database, and its migration over to the new platform. An integrated SharePoint solution was developed, along with a search function to allow website visitors to easily find the course they are looking for.
The project posed several distinct challenges to the Parabola team. Not only were the timescales and budget extremely tight, but the website needed to communicate effectively to several different audiences at the same time - students, employers and stakeholders. This requirement had significant implications for the design, navigation, and content of the new site. Being a public facing website, representing a public body, accessibility was also extremely important therefore one of the key objectives of the project was that the site met 'AA' accessibility guidelines.
The Parabola team worked closely with the College IT department to build a capable, resilient, SharePoint hosting environment, making use of a three-server farm. The solution itself took advantage of a number of features in SharePoint 2010 aimed at developing branded websites, not least the improved fully accessible Master Pages. The new website was designed and tested with all modern browsers in mind, including the latest releases of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome.
As well as delivering the website, Parabola supported the College by providing on-site training for both the Marketing and IT teams.
Raffaella Cuccia, Head of Strategic Communications at CWC commented; "The new website looks great and we are pleased with it. We have also received very positive feedback from staff and students as well as our stakeholders."