Bespoke Web Design that Empowers Entrepreneurs – BCU Advantage
Provided by Birmingham City University, BCU Advantage is a business growth network, offering support to help start-ups and growing businesses in the West Midlands. Their services include new business incubators, help with funding and investment, and set-up and design workshops, at affordable rates and with subsidised services for BCU alumni.
We wanted to build BCUAdvantage a clean, modern website which sets them apart from their competitors and treats their users as individuals. Many competitors focus on themselves as providers, rather than on the needs of the entrepreneurs and businesses they support. Because BCUAdvantage is linked to Birmingham City University, their reputation is implicitly one of scholarly excellence in business development, especially in industries associated with science, technology, engineering, arts and maths. This meant that we could build a website that focuses on user experience and customer journey, guiding them from the homepage to the most relevant of BCUAdvantage’s services. This helps to showcase BCUAdvantage as a supportive, helpful and empowering provider.
A Personalised User Journey
Rather than the typical website structure of pages featuring ‘About Us’ and a list of Services, the BCUAdvantage homepage immediately offers visitors a call to action specific to them. Directive phrases and striking imagery in a scrolling banner encourages visitors to ‘Start Your Business’, ‘Grow Your Business’ and ‘Innovate Your Business’, each with a ‘See More’ button. This funnels potential users into separate sections for start-ups, existing businesses looking to grow, and those looking to innovate.
Headings are customer centred questions, asking about ‘You’, or first person statements, inviting the customer to own their desires by clicking ‘I want to start a business’. This is a completely different feel to the old website, which simply gave a list of services offered by BCUA, which while useful, were difficult to understand and were not targeted at the customers who would find them most relevant.
After choosing to ‘see more’, visitors are immediately presented with image cards showing the services relevant to their needs, with more information to check they are in the right place below. This is the outcome of designing a site with a customer-first attitude, the customer journey is a matter of clicks. Selecting a service card leads to more information and the option to ‘Make an Enquiry’ which leads to the bespoke enquiry form, which they see ‘should take no longer than 2 minutes’.
The colour palette evolved from BCUAdvantage’s existing logo, a blue cog with elements of purple and pink, which our designers brightened into fuchsia accents. Of the palettes we offered the client during our Moodboard consultation, this was a bold choice and certainly works for the contemporary kind of business they want to attract.
The fuchsia accents are used throughout the website to highlight the key words and phrases unifying the website and creating a strong contrast against the clean white background. Pink is a powerful colour when paired with this strong typeface, making BCUA’s website stand out from others in the business support industry, which mainly stick to a corporate palette of blues and greys. This colour scheme shows BCUA as a bold company ready for the new decade.
We also used icons in our trademark clean-lines style to indicate the different stages of business growth, and these appear throughout the website to unify pages and help users see quickly that they are in the right place. Our subtle animation features bring the website up to date and keep it fresh and responsive.
Designing an Enquiry Process that Businesses Will Love
BCU Advantage’s original contact enquiry form was ugly, with too many services to select and too little information about them. It was inaccessible, and overwhelming for businesses to navigate. The challenge was that there was nothing unnecessary in the form, every service needed to be available on the form for those who need it.
We provided a bespoke solution with a multistep form which users click through for a simpler, clearer, more encouraging experience. Now users only see what is relevant to them and the language is much simpler to understand. With large vibrant cards to select replacing dull check-boxes, the form is a modern and engaging way for new customers to get in touch. There’s even a reassuring notice that this form will only take two minutes to fill in.
The form automatically populates what it can, if the user has filled it out before or if they have clicked through from a service information page. For example, if a user is viewing information about a start-up incubator, and clicks to the form from that page, they will already see ‘I Want to Start a Business’ selected, and Incubator selected as one service they are interested in. Then they can choose any additional services, describe the specific challenges they’re facing, and fill out their contact details.
The benefits of this form are not just for the consumer, but for the client as well. As customers submit their enquiries, the form stores and communicates the data to the client’s Customer Record Management team so that they can easily track enquiries and manage ongoing sales.
The original website also had very little capability for updating the events page. As workplace events are a large part of BCUA’s offfering, they really needed to be able to post regularly about upcoming workshops, networking events and conferences. Their usual bookings were posted on Eventbrite, so we wanted to integrate this to make it as user-friendly as possible.
We designed a template which would pull through event details from the client’s Eventbrite page for an efficient posting mechanism. Once the event is on Eventbrite, the client simply needs to input a code or Eventbrite username into their web builder and the date, time, title, and feature image will appear in full-fidelity design on their main website.
These events were also accessible through a pop-out button in accented pink, marking it as a clearly separate element from the ‘Start’, ‘Grow’, ‘Innovate’ options. This button moves as the user scrolls down the page to come in line with the header, drawing the visitor’s eye to the offering of business events.
Challenges for KIJO
We’ve learned a lot from this project, and while we are really happy with the outcomes, no website build comes without challenges. By talking together as a team, we’ve established what the key stumbling blocks have been, and how we can avoid them in the future.
We want our relationship with our clients to be positive from start to finish, and that means beginning with their needs. While our usual method for initial consultations hasn’t brought problems before, the needs of this particular client were so complex that we struggled to understand one another by following the meeting agenda. The questions that often help us best capture the starting point of a project just didn’t apply. As a result, the clients didn’t feel their needs were heard and we didn’t feel we understood their original website. Our usual formula that had worked so well just didn’t fit this client.
So we went for another meeting, without a structure, where we could find out about the fine details of how their business worked. They laid out their typical customer journey map for us to see, as long and convoluted as it was, how each element and service fitted together.
One way we hope to remedy this miscommunication is to introduce KIJO Discovery Meetings as standard – a new addition to our process which gives clients the opportunity to tell us everything, up front, in whatever structure feels natural to them. Every business is different, and every client communicates in differently. We are all human, after all. We want to get to know our clients and their business, their key stakeholders, challenges, and what they’re hoping to get out of working with KIJO, so that we fully understand where they’re coming from before we start. Discovery meetings are a chance for us to be more inquisitive, asking questions about the fine details, and diving into the raw material with which we’re starting.
Recognised Web Design
We are intensely proud of this latest achievement, having a client approach us with something old, outdated, and unworkable, which was losing them business, and to come back at the end of the project with a website of which they can be proud. It is simple, striking, and customer-focussed. The client feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are eager to shout about our successes.
We are happy to share that have already been publicly recognised for the work we’ve done on this website. In January 2020, Elementor featured our design as #01 Site of the Month, saying:
“The sans serif fonts produce a very modern look & feel, and the white backgrounds with images of people or technological spaces only reinforces this look & feel. The entire site is structured using squares and boxes, and everything has a clear grid — a design suitable for a place that talks business, where everything has to be neat, clear, and in order.”Elementor Site of the Month
We are happy that the clients are satisfied and that our innovative designs have been recognised. Our bespoke website features have been a huge success, simplifying the process of accessing BCUAdvantage’s services. The visual impact of our layout, typeface and colour palette create a sense of a professional institution which is also modern, innovative and supportive. The customer-focussed language we’ve used brings people in who are taking an enormous step in their careers, and makes them feel seen. At KIJO, we’ve found a way to design websites that empower people.
Posted on by Kirk Thompson