New websites for The Key

Joe Blair

We recently launched new websites for The Key for School Leaders and The Key for School Governors.

SL-homepage

In the few weeks since that launch – the sites have already been visited around 30,000 times by our members.

It’s great to see this level of engagement at the end of a project that has been a long time in the making.

The previous versions of our websites hadn’t changed much since The Key launched online in 2007. The internet has changed a bit in that time (!), and for this project we decided to rebuild the websites from scratch.

But you’re probably not so interested in the technical stuff. So let’s take a look at what’s new:

  • Improved site navigation making it easier for members to quickly find what they are looking for
  • Personalised homepage, featuring data-driven trends, information and updates specifically relevant to a member’s role, school and interests
  • Enhanced search function with predictive search and highlighted relevant results
  • Improved linking between related articles so members can quickly explore a topic in more depth
  • Topical bundles filled with information that is popular and regularly looked at
  • Refreshed look and feel to give a cleaner, sleeker experience
  • Full mobile optimisation, for on-the-go browsing

We’ve also introduced some new online features, including:

  • News alerts service, to get updates on the latest education news from our sites
  • Exclusive video clips of expert talks from our events
  • Enhanced content tools making it easier to save, print and share our articles
  • Improved membership tools, to help you manage your personal and school memberships online

Designing the new sites was particularly challenging because we know our members really liked the simplicity and familiarity of the original platforms. Generally, people don’t like website redesigns – and we were strict with ourselves in avoiding change for change’s sake.

So we stuck to a broadly similar layout, and made sure that the article page didn’t become too busy – in fact, we cleaned it up. When members are reading our articles, we assume they want a clean and simple page so they can focus on the matter at hand.

SL-logged-in-before-after

The Key for School Leaders homepage – before and after

The biggest change is probably the introduction of the new homepages.

The new sites give us complete flexibility to organise these pages, and it has been exciting to explore the most engaging and useful way to share our content. I hope you like our launch versions – which will no doubt evolve in response to feedback and activity. Even yesterday, we changed the layout and content multiple times in response to the budget announcements.

Personally, I’m also excited about the improved search engine. The sites now search as you type, which makes it easy to explore our articles on a topic.

Gov-search

Predictive search results with top matches

We’re also including live, data-driven content, for the first time. You will see ‘Top 5’ lists and ‘Top searches’ – all based on aggregated activity data. This will allow members to see what’s popular, including by their role or in their local authority.

In general, I hope the new sites make our content more accessible, and therefore more useful to our members – so they can use The Key more effectively, and pass the benefits on to their colleagues and pupils.

If you have any feedback on the new sites, or comments on what you’d like to see next, we’d love to hear from you.

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