UX design, eCommerce, development, API integration

All features great and small

Brief

In September 2018 DPC+UP received an RFP from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) for a UX overhaul, and complete technical rebuild, of the BVA website. As the largest not-for-profit membership community for the veterinary profession in the UK, the BVA champion, support, and empower more than 18,000 vets of all ages, stages, and disciplines. The website is the go-to hub for veterinary journals, news, views and opportunities.

Winning the project was one of the highlights of our year, as we knew we could genuinely help the organisation: we had the technical capability to help BVA achieve all of their complex 3rd party integrations whilst at the same time as incorporating slick e-commerce functionality, and integrating with their existing internal legacy CRM systems. However, the main driver was to improve the user experience for the vets, as reports from customer research, and a deep dive into their analytics, revealed that the site was not serving their needs as best it could – especially accessing professional journals; we had to deliver a simple user experience for their membership community.

We followed the DPC+UP project process:

Firstly, we ran a thorough audit at how vets were using the current BVA website and secondly, we ran a half day workshop with the Association’s senior management team to better understand the core outcomes they were after and what really mattered to them.

Then we created a site map based on findings from the analytics and the workshop. This ushered in a consultation period where together we nailed down the vets’ requirements and ensured that they were being reflected in the site’s structure.

The next step was wire-framing and prototyping, where we really started to align information architecture with the user experience. We produced an initial set of wireframes, got feedback from the client, and then made improvements.

Our level of prototyping is extensive. The BVA got the full works. Over a period of six weeks we ran half a dozen two-hour workshops with different teams, examining the user journeys through each relevant section: we prototyped every page.

Alongside usability is the look & feel: function and aesthetics. Using a style-tile we developed specific elements like header, footer, fonts, colour palette, image treatment, and iconography: our one-page digital brand book defined how every individual element would work together and how they would work in isolation.

Once that was signed off, we were in a position to style up all the components necessary for each page and compile a full widget list.

The DPC+UP process meant that the web build project was a genuine pleasure to manage from an internal perspective. We always knew at what stage the project was and what work was due to be done each week.”

James Mullarkey, BVA, Head of Digital.

Finally, we built all elements and integrated each component into the new Umbraco content management system. Writing this it does sound simple, but there were over 40-page components that all needed to be built and tested across every device from mobile to desktop.

The objective was to enable the BVA’s content team to have complete flexibility on every page, and to have the ability to add or remove every specific component within their pages, effectively the micro-management of their own content. No longer are pages built using page templates, they are now created by building their pages using flexible page components.

Then came the back-end build. Having the interactive architecture meticulously drawn up within the wireframes is an enormous bonus. Even so, on this job there was a lot of integration work required, not least with the BMJ (British Medical Journal), which writes and publishes all the Vet Journals, that include the many features and articles that BVA members want to access. The build also required a bi-directional integration with the BVA CRM (MS Dynamics) that also required a payment gateway to take membership subscriptions and an easy-to-use self-serve members area. This included mechanisms flagging up items like upcoming CPD events and notifications when individual memberships are due to expire.

Result

It took just over a year from being commissioned to delivering the site. The site finally went live in December 2019. So yes, we created all features great and small for the BVA and these were matched by the many benefits. Comprehensive. Ordered. Highly navigable. Logical. And above all else, not just easy to use – but pleasurable to use.

The DPC+UP team were fantastic: Outstanding UX design, technical Umbraco experts, back-end expertise with integrating our site with our CRM platform and the BMJ journals, and all wrapped in a slick project management process.”

James Mullarkey, BVA, Head of Digital.

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