When New Zealand’s capital city university took on the task of overhauling its website, addressing the search capability for its 10 million annual online visitors was critical to the project’s success.
Technology partner Fronde recommended Google Search Appliance (GSA) - an operating system which brings all of the Google search features to an organisation’s digital records - to produce relevant results, rebuild trust and support the University’s diverse user group.
The mobile first, customer focussed approach has more than achieved its objectives.
James Valentine, Chief Technology Officer at Fronde says an issue with the previous website was the search bar, which users found slow and unreliable.
“Due to the breadth and depth of content, Victoria University’s website was unavoidably encyclopaedic and could not effectively cater to its wide audience, who were all looking for something different.
“Users were resorting to Google.com to gather their information, as they found the university’s website difficult to navigate.
“The university knew it had to win back users’ confidence, and improving the search feature on a revamped website was a significant way to do this,” he says.
Joining with technology partner Fronde, Victoria University’s web team implemented GSA, a bespoke and feature-rich tool which allowed more functionality and integration, and enabled the web team to move from providing reactive support to digital leadership.
Valentine says that since the implementation of GSA, search usage has doubled.
“The Victoria University web team reports more than 10,000 searches a day at peak time, with users able to trawl public websites and three internal databases. The GSA functionality has improved the flexibility of the University website,” he says.
The website now effectively serves all types of users. Prospective students and the public can explore Victoria’s academic expertise, as staff members and their research interests now appear in search results. Victoria staff members can log in to search internal content alongside the public websites.
For students, the daunting process of course selection and building a timetable is now much easier. Students can plan their study by searching and refining using course metadata - everything from subject matter to the time of day.
The search design is now a core feature of the revamped website, and plans are also underway for more customer-focussed and mobile-first innovations.
Madeleine Setchell, Director, Communications and Marketing, Victoria University of Wellington says the university has been impressed with the GSA result.
“We use it as a platform, not just a search tool. It has allowed us to integrate a range of applications and content into our web channels. We have a large amount of course information and GSA makes it possible to easily integrate this information with our marketing strategies.
“We really like the powerful and flexible tools GSA provides the web team,” she says.