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How do you bring an enduring educational institution into the modern age?

Melbourne Polytechnic (MP) is a provider of vocational education TAFE (VET) and higher education. They have been delivering vocational training since 1912 and are one of the largest TAFE providers in Australia. Throughout its long history, Melbourne Polytechnic has fostered the careers of some of Australia’s most prominent and successful leaders across business, broadcasting and sport.

With a culture of innovation underpinning everything Melbourne Polytechnic does, it is integral that their digital space is just as forward-thinking and engaging as the on-campus experience.

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Capturing the next generation of graduates

Over time, the Melbourne Polytechnic website had become outdated. The content was ageing and a clunky, non-enterprise CMS attracted significant ongoing costs for minor development. A lack of integrated marketing operations tools meant that it was falling behind its competitors, reducing their ability to attract the next generation of thinkers and creators.

To continue to be at the forefront of Australia’s practical education sector, the pathway for graduating students to discover Melbourne Polytechnic’s offering needed to be simplified, with each interaction ultimately guiding students to an end-point that made enrolling irresistible.

Once captured, interaction with wider business platforms and projects needed to be seamless to ensure a consistent and engaging brand experience.

A website that could increase revenue through enrolments and reduce digital maintenance costs would also mean a greater budget to reinvest back into Melbourne Polytechnic, strengthening the institution’s future.

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A custom experience for niche needs

To gain a thorough understanding of what students needed, we took the time to learn and understand their priorities, key tasks and pain points, through methods such as interviews, card sorting and user testing. We then used this knowledge to guide the technical development of the digital experience.

The core of our technical approach was to implement a modern, open CMS – Umbraco.
One challenge was to connect the CMS to Melbourne Polytechnic’s internal systems, such as their student and course management software. Umbraco's strength is in its flexibility, and in conjuction with custom development, it enabled us to produce an integrated system that uniquely met Melbourne Polytechnic’s needs as an educational institution.

Melbourne Polytechnic's search needs were particularly complex, requiring a system that was easy to use and facilitated user exploration, while being powerful and intuitive. We created a guided experience through course types, study areas and qualification levels, with the aim of designing a search experience that aided decision-making.

To achieve this, we developed a custom integration with Azure Search, allowing students to search for both general content and courses. Autocomplete was applied to suggest variations of the search term, assisting with both UX and a more organic discovery of content. As the user progressed through the decision making process, advanced filtering helped to refine their search and showcase the breadth of available content.

This user-centred design approach underpinned the entire development, including a custom integration to import course information from Melbourne Polytechnic’s existing external system, ensuring website content would seamlessly be kept up to date.

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Without a modern API available, we developed a process that tracked any changes within the Umbraco CMS, importing, adjusting, then indexing them into the external Azure Search every 24 hours. This got the correct information to the user faster, while also assisting content managers to navigate the CMS with ease.

To help strengthen customer relationships and minimise development costs, we designed a tailored workflow solution for Umbraco Forms. This allowed user data to be sent directly from contact forms to Salesforce, creating a Lead with specific properties and optimising potential customer conversion. Admins were also given the power to create a form as required, and can configure it without the need for a developer, cutting costs and improving workflow.

Leading the students of tomorrow to a brighter future

By listening to the needs of students and putting them first, Melbourne Polytechnic now has a dynamic digital platform that speaks to its audience. It’s a site that slots seamlessly into the wider ecosystem of the institution’s offering, and strikes a fine balance between visual engagement and vital course content. Users are guided through their journey in an intuitive and engaging way, transforming them from curious researchers to prospective students.

In updating and customising the CMS, we also increased digital security and provided better vulnerability management and mitigation, reducing the risk of data breaches and protecting the institution’s reputation.

Further, increasing the platform’s flexibility and digital marketing and sales capabilities has put the power in Melbourne Polytechnic’s hands to elevate their marketing and react quickly in a rapidly changing environment. Their voice and reach is stronger than ever, and ensures their long history of success will continue far into the future.

Visit the Melbourne Polytechnic site now to discover the full experience Calico developed. 

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