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How a great working partnership has fixed critical website issues and improved user experience.

The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for distributing 40 per cent of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery. In the last financial year alone it awarded more than £1 billion to projects around the UK. To fulfil this mission, it’s vital that the Fund’s website works effectively to support people who want to make online applications for funding, or simply share experiences with other communities.

The challenge

Until recently the Big Lottery Fund site – built around both Sitecore and Telligent – was suffering because of a lack of expert support and direction.

“One of the big problems we faced was that the site had launched before most of the present staff were here,” says Steve Keene, Digital Manager at Big Lottery Find. “This meant we had no organisational memory and no structure in place to support fixes. When we did need a fix we had to use ad hoc external help that was very expensive.”

“We also discovered that the code base was a mess, and not much was documented,” he continues. “We knew this would need a lot of work to put right and that we would need specialist and expert help us do it.”

The solution

The Big Lottery Fund put out a tender for a partner that could help fix its existing coding issues and provide long term support.

“We chose Eduserv because of its solid and extensive experience with key systems like Sitecore, but also because they have a real user focus,” says Steve. “Just as importantly Eduserv was able to demonstrate that it wanted to work in close partnership with us and provide all the support we need as we move forward as an organisation.”

Results

Since working with Big Lottery Fund, Eduserv has worked in partnership with the internal Big Lottery Fund team to fix the existing coding issues. As part of this process it has improved key areas of the site, especially the online community forum.

“Our community area of the site is really important because it enables applicants and beneficiaries to connect with others who are keen to improve their communities.” says Steve. “Since working with Eduserv we’ve been able to greatly improve the user experience – this really helps people to ask questions, join in discussions, learn from others, seek help and share their stories. We also recently hosted a very successful live chat, which was something we hadn’t done before.”

Crucially, Eduserv has also introduced an agile development process that is now the cornerstone of a great working relationship between the two organisations.

“Eduserv promised us a real collaboration and that’s exactly what we’ve got,” says Steve. “The agile processes that Eduserv have introduced have played an important role in bringing us together as one team with real focus and purpose. We also have support on-hand whenever we need it. Unlike before, the process is totally transparent and all outcomes are well documented.”

“Overall, we’re happy that we now have a site that is back on track with the support of a partner that understands our organisation, our sector and the systems that we use. We’re currently in the process of developing our digital strategy, and we’re confident that this work has given us a solid platform to move forward with that and will really enhance our digital presence over the coming years,” Steve concludes.

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