Cornerstone are Exeter’s largest independent housing association, providing affordable homes for over 90 years. They manage 1300 properties and provide a home for 3,000 people as well as building around 30 new homes a year.
They went out to tender for their new website, having identified that their current site didn’t talk to their two core audiences of existing tenants and property developers. The new site is built in WordPress.
We started by establishing a sound understanding of their audiences and then completely overhauling the navigational architecture of the site. We designed in 4 ‘sticky tiles’ under the main menu that links through to the key areas that their existing tenants needed to communicated to them regularly about –
- Report a Repair
- Find a Home
- Rent & Money
- Tenancy Information
Our client asked us to incorporate the vibrant coloured branding they had throughout the site and also ensure it was fully mobile responsive as the majority of their tenants only had mobile phones or iPads, with very little desktop use.
Our design made full use of the new bank of photography they had taken and we designed a custom set of icons that lead the design. The icons were very important to them as they convey a lot when viewed on a mobile phone. Cornerstone now use the icon collection graphics in their offline marketing materials as well, and also on social media, for a more joined up brand approach. The calls-to-action on the site were a key consideration as the site was not just a pretty brochure but a daily form of communication with their thousands of tenants. The forms that tenants fill in for reporting a repair or asking a question all have a high-design with icons used and the ability to upload photos from the tenants mobile phone to attach to forms when sending in an enquiry. This makes the site as user friendly and approachable as possible, which is what Cornerstone is all about.
The site also has a private document library and noticeboard which is hidden behind a secure login for Cornerstone staff only. They asked for the visual presentation of this portal space to be as well designed as the front end, so we used bright colours and a clear tiled layout of documents. This area is also controlled by the content management system so the Cornerstone admin person can update and maintain the documents and news posts easily and quickly, without having to come back to us. We also developed 3 levels of access, so the staff member only sees the documents that they have security level permission for when they login.
Their second audience of property developers has a detailed Portfolio area listing the new builds they are developing and on the look out for, with a custom designed location map portfolio of houses in a gallery with listings, descriptions and photos. We will be developing an interactive map for them as part of future work.
The new website development also gave Cornerstone the opportunity to cut down admin time in future and so we transferred their 7 page job application form online. The user can now fill in the job application on screen, and take their time in completing the form by saving it via a progress link that lasts for 30 days. So they can return to the application to get it just right before submitting it through to Cornerstone.
Ongoing Support & Consultation
We completed migration and core search engine optimisation (SEO) on the site when it went live and gave their staff consultation on Google Analytics and how to monitor that, as the Google dashboard can often be confusing and intimidating. We host the website and also perform a monthly security sweep to keep any patches and WordPress platform changes up-to-date and secure.
“The overwhelming consensus emerging from the meeting was that the site looks great, is responsive and met the brief we set. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the Daneswood team for all their hard work in developing such a great site. It’s been a big project and the successful meeting of 1st May deadline is testament to the effort that everyone has put in. Please pass on our thanks to the rest of the team.”
Rachel Coombe, Cornerstone