Web Design Background

Midlands Innovation

Client

Midlands Innovation

Location

Nottingham, UK

Services

UX/UI Design


Design System

Moodboard

Site Architecture

On Page SEO

Testing
User

User Journey Mapping

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Midlands Innovation is a strategic research and innovation partnership of eight Midlands-based universities; Aston University, University of Birmingham, Cranfield University, Keele University, University of Leicester, Loughborough University, University of Nottingham and University of Warwick.

Midlands Innovation approached KIJO with a clear brief to refresh their website; one that better articulated their purpose, mission and service offering, and improved their brand reputation. The existing site’s user journey was confused resulting in a low conversion rate. Their previous, bespoke content management system (CMS) was buggy and expensive making it difficult to use and resulting in a website that wasn’t being updated as much as it should be. Its high cost meant that resources were being diverted away from where they could be best used, including investing in a better website.

The second part of the brief was to create an additional site for MI Health. This is a sister collective of seven Midlands Innovation universities that coordinates and combines their expertise to deliver improved health and regional growth. Because of the size and specificness of this collective, it required its own separate site. This needed to look obviously connected to the main site, but deliver an alternative message; MI Health unites university medical research and facilities which drives cutting-edge collaboration and develops skills.

68%

of users on user test associated the website design with brand values of Midlands Innovation

90+

Google Lighthouse Performance Scores

In-Depth Discovery Leading to a Refreshed, Modern Design

The KIJO team set to work to design, develop and improve a clearer, cleaner website that built on the good intentions of the existing site. On the whole, this was a complex organisation to get to grips with. It required an in-depth discovery process that included intensive reading of documentation supplied by the client. Universities tend to have strict guidelines and many rules, regulations and other considerations that need factoring into projects. Understanding this particular university partnership was pivotal to the website design. This material helped us confidently plan a suitable site map and pinpoint the ideal user journey which was previously confused and unclear.

Our core design was born out of existing brand guidelines which were strong and established already. However, we wanted to bring in modern design principles to our site creation. These not only made the site look sleek and renewed, but improved the UI. The principles included well-used white space which helps provide a visual hierarchy of information, contributing to a clearer user journey. We also opted for clean typography which ensures readability along with impactful colours which help users further understand and navigate the site.

A Bolstered, Purposeful Presence

In order to provide a clearer online presence for Midlands Innovation, we used the brand colour palette to effectively create impact on the user. The KIJO team coupled this with a powerful hero banner that included a neat, mini slider showcasing the partnership’s latest news and information.

What existed as a header before was just a slider of the organisation’s latest articles. However, by implementing new quantifying, fresh copy within the banner, the site is now articulating more effectively who Midlands Innovation are and what they do from the off.  This means that the value proposition of Midlands Innovation is now present permanently across the site, whilst promoting key stories on a captivating and intriguing featured carousel.

Fluid & Fortified Branding

The Midlands Innovation team wanted to improve their brand reputation too. To help with this, we used the logomark as a design element throughout the site’s pages. This helped better articulate the brand fluidly across the site and aided in bolstering their presence within the universities.

A Flexible & Accessible CMS

The Midlands Innovation team were frustrated with their outdated, restricting content management system. They were limited to set templates when it came to creating new pages which didn’t allow them the flexibility they needed when it came to sharing their unique service offerings. We utilised Elementor to allow the client to easily manage their website content themselves. They can now create new pages using these preset templates.

We made sure our design was impressive and engaging, but not overly complicated. This means that our designed blocks aren’t too specific to the content; flexible to different types. So, if the Midlands Innovation team needs to alter their content in the future, the experience of the site won’t be affected.

A Complementary & Clear Sister Site

As part of the brief, we also had to create the MI Health website. We created a design system for the main website and also the main website’s pages and layouts into reusable templates. Then, we were able to use these templates and the design system for the MI Health website by simply rebranding the design system and reworking them from the main site’s. We could easily change the core colours of the website in one update and for the site’s development, we simply duplicated the environment. This meant that all the relevant templates came across with ease for the accompanying sister site.

The Results

Midlands Innovation’s goals for their website refresh was clear; better articulate what the organisation does, improve the user journey and put a more reliable CMS in place.

We conducted a recent user test on the site. 10 people were asked to select five words that best described the branding on the new website. Over 52.27% of the words selected aligned with Midlands Innovation’s branding!

When we checked the site against Google Lighthouse – an automated tool which indicates the quality of a website’s pages – the Midlands Innovation site is now scoring 90+ for performance, meaning the site is working optimally and well for all of its users too.

In addition, the client was impressed which is always a strong indicator that we’ve achieved the goals the project set. Ellen McGhee, Operations Manager said:

“KIJO have made the task of setting up a new website a really clear, efficient and hassle-free process. The team has been super friendly, accommodating, knowledgeable and engaging.”

Ellen McGhee
Ellen McGhee

Operations Manager, Midlands Innovation

University of Warwick