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University of Hull

About University of Hull

University of Hull logo

Founded in 1927 the University of Hull is England’s 14th oldest public research University and is the exclusive University partner of Olympic team GB.

Headquarters Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of YorkshireUnited KingdomIndustryHigher educationEmployees2500+
212%

An increase in web traffic on results day

18,500

Students and staff

20k to 3k

A reduction in web pages

The University of Hull digitally transformed its website with Zengenti’s flagship CMS Contensis in 2016, when its existing system could not change and adapt with the times as they did. Their digital team recognised the need to scale up and offer better digital experiences for their staff and students.

Starting from scratch

The University of Hull is one of England’s longest-standing institutions for learning. For over 90 years, the university has been providing life-changing and award-winning research. In 2022, the university is home to over 16,000 students and 2,500 employees, including more than 1,000 academic staff.

As such a large university with a reputation for research excellence, most notably with the Queen's Award for Technological Achievement, they needed to ensure their digital presence matched their heritage.

In 2013, the University of Hull undertook a thorough review of its existing website. It revealed over 20,000 web pages, a clunky user experience, and a content management system (CMS) that could not support their web development workflow. The outcome of the consultancy program was evident. The university needed to overhaul its existing website. The team needed to start from scratch.

Digital transformation

The digital team found they had quickly outgrown their existing CMS. It could no longer adapt and fit its business processes, which identified the essential criteria for its next CMS moving forward.

The university needed a CMS system that could grow with them, offer superior functionality to their previous CMS, and be intuitive and straightforward to work with from day one.

"We chose Contensis because it is easy to use, quick to set up, cloud-based and cost-effective. Contensis has made our lives easier when our teams have grown and new people have joined.

It’s been a straightforward process onboarding team members with the CMS, with the odd question now and again, but the fact it is simple to use has helped with the time and resources required for training," says Jon Welsh, Digital systems lead at the University of Hull.

The University of Hull website in 2015

Above: University of Hull website in 2015, before moving to Contensis.

"The CMS has given us improved functionality over our previous design, a clean and straightforward user interface and a great product and implementation team to work with.

Our dedicated account manager, Ola, and the 24/7 hosting support have always given us peace of mind and support when we need it," Jon says. 

From a developer's perspective.

The development team put the different CMS’ to the test during the procurement process. Putting the proof in the pudding, they trialled each CMS to see how easy they were to use. Checking for the functionality, making sure the CMS fit their needs and was as easy to use as each company claimed.

With little to no help from the Zengenti team, the University of Hull had built a prototype website from scratch in two weeks. Using the documentation available and working with the intuitive user interface, the university decided that Contensis was the clear winner.

Contensis offered the university’s development team room to grow and change as they needed. With future developments headed towards a different front-end framework, integrating the API into multiple languages gave the team the ability to evaluate a variety of options. 

With Contensis there is a lot of great functionality out of the box. The SaaS product is constantly being updated with new features usable over the cloud. We like that Contensis works with many large enterprises and leading universities across the UK, so it understands our needs and requirements.
Jon WelshDigital systems lead

Additional support from the large Contensis community has also provided invaluable assistance and suggestions. "Being part of the Contensis community is really important to us. It’s a non-toxic, collaborative environment with users with similar interests and vocations to ours.

New functionality is led by the customer’s needs and requirements, and the team at Zengenti listens and prioritises their roadmap accordingly," says Jon.

"As highly-engaged and valued members of the Contensis community, the University of Hull has frequently contributed to our product roadmap. Jon and his progressive team have been early adopters of many new features including Content types & entries," says Ola Andersson, Client account manager at Zengenti.

Implementing Contensis made for a better experience all-around. Whether it was the staff working with it or the students using it, it was essential to deliver a CMS that would work for everyone.

A better user experience for everyone

The new website helped the University of Hull reduce the clutter from its old website, from over 20,000 pages to less than 3,000 pages. Focusing on quality over quantity, the team improved the content and provided a feature-rich experience for all users.

For students

Contensis has created a seamless experience for all students, existing and prospective, embarking on their higher education journey at Hull. "Useful features such as responsive design, improved accessibility throughout and elastic search has helped our users get to the pages they’re looking for," Jon says.

For example, prospective students can easily navigate the website and find the information they need to book a university open day. Whether they see the content through

  • Search using React
  • Filters and paginated lists with JavaScript/AlpineJS
  • Or signposting within the page using Components and Razor.

The user experience is considered at every student touchpoint, from booking in to a university open day to the highly emotive results day. Contensis performs under pressure and creates memorable experiences for the right reasons.

The University of Hull website in 2022, using Contensis

Above: University of Hull website in 2022, using Contensis.

For staff

The user experience for the staff has also improved with the new CMS. With the addition of workflows, something not available in the previous CMS, the teams have enhanced content control.

For example, the dedicated content team can check and approve everything before publishing and making it live. Utilising the roles and permissions feature in Contensis has made content governance easier. With the ability to restrict users to certain areas of the site, which was not possible before for the University.

Working with Contensis has also provided greater flexibility with the type of content the university can create. The content teams can work more efficiently with content modelling, making it easier to reuse content across the site. Because the CMS is a single source of truth, it has reduced the time spent duplicating similar content in multiple places. This new way of working was more efficient for everyone, so the team could focus on doing what they do best, creating new and meaningful content.

The team also has complete peace of mind with Contensis. They know that the system will still work under pressure during busy and critical periods, such as results day and clearing.

  • On results day in 2020, the website traffic increased by 180%. From 6,200 daily users to 17,466. The website remained unphased by the influx of traffic with its dedicated server infrastructure.
  • The content team can switch content quickly and easily using entries and components, which is helpful if information changes suddenly.
  • The University has security safeguards in place should a cyber attack happen during busy periods.

Moving from Immediacy to Contensis

Moving to Contensis has provided a superior user experience and a website to be proud of.

The platform provides a system that is both easy to use for the developers and content editors. Neither department have to compromise on how they work with the system. The developers are free to use the languages and frameworks they prefer. No restrictions on how they create or use the content.

Content governance is a breeze for content editors and marketers, setting content guidelines, roles, and permissions. Making it easy to create content once and publish it anywhere.

The move to Contensis 6 years ago has helped and supported the University of Hull team to develop a completely new website, which is sleek and modern by design. We’re pleased it continues to meet the expectations of their existing and prospective students. And the requirements of the developers and content editors working at the university, with each new release.
Ola AnderssonClient account manager