Blackpool Form College: Custom WordPress website

A dynamic WordPress website for a vibrant sixth-form college setting

Blackpool Form College: Custom WordPress website

Showcasing The Blackpool Sixth Form College

The Challenge

We were approached by The Blackpool Sixth Form College to redesign their website because they'd seen and liked our previous work on sixth-form colleges. The main goal for Blackpool Sixth was to develop an impactful web presence that Lancashire students could relate to. Improved interactivity was linked to a better user experience. So, anything that made it easier for students, staff and parents to interact with the website was a plus.

All of our builds are simple to use after launch, and Blackpool Sixth’s remit was no different. A key success measure of the project was that website administrators could add, edit and remove content once the website was handed over. In reality, the administration of content on the system began much sooner than the website launch, but more on that later.

Blackpool Sixth partnered with us (Feel Created) to design and build a website that appealed to students in the Lancashire region. Here’s how we rose to the challenge.

The solution

We designed and built a custom website for Blackpool Sixth using the WordPress content management system (CMS) with the Gutenberg editor feature. Using the college's logo and colours as a starting point, we brought the brand to life, introducing interactive and animated elements that enhanced the user experience. And, to ensure users could interact on their terms, we built in features like the prospectus builder, an effective way to manage course literature.

Custom WordPress website

A user-friendly website for users and administrators

We use WordPress CMS for several reasons. It's fully customisable, so our clients get a solution tailored to their requirements. But this doesn't mean it's complex for users to use. The WordPress back end is familiar to most administrators, so it's quick to get to grips with. Blackpool Sixth website administrators can add, remove and edit content quickly and easily without relying on dev support. We provided remote training (which is handy to record) to ensure admins were up to speed before the website launched.

Giving Blackpool Sixth administrators the ability to customise their content easily was part of our collaborative plan to improve the user experience. Working with the Blackpool Sixth team, we identified an ‘always forward’ route through the site for students. Administrators can easily tweak this journey, updating content time-sensitively to match upcoming college events and promotions.

Gutenberg editor feature

Block editing the website within a branded framework

The Gutenberg editor served two main purposes in this project. The first was to allow administrators to select from a series of pre-defined and custom-built blocks when building dynamic pages. The second was to provide a series of 'templates' known as Gutenberg Patterns, giving users a set starting point on similar pages. In both instances, the blocks and patterns were custom-built for this specific project to give users greater flexibility when creating pages.

The blocks included elements like text, images, video and statistics, ensuring users could showcase content sections. The purpose of these blocks was to help tell the Blackpool Sixth story in a visually appealing way. The patterns were made up of a curated selection of the same blocks, creating consistency on pages like course pages that benefit from looking the same. Patterns saved the Blackpool Sixth administrators lots of time but could still be adjusted to suit specific needs. For example, an extra block is added or removed to suit the content on a particular page – because as much as we’d like it to, not all content fits a generic mould!

Gutenberg editor feature

Advanced WordPress functionality

Experience-enhancing custom WordPress features

Blackpool Sixth knew of our expertise in custom WordPress functionality and asked us to incorporate a prospectus builder feature. Traditionally, every available course is printed in a paper prospectus, but Blackpool Sixth wanted a more considered option for its students. Our prospectus builder tool allows students to add the courses they're interested in into a basket, which is then packaged for download as a PDF. This creates a better experience for the students but also saves carbon in the process.

Blackpool Sixth identified the opportunity to enhance the user experience through technology. To ensure the prospectus builder continues to serve the college in the future, we made it easy for website administrators to add new courses and remove courses as often as they like. The beauty of using WordPress as a framework is that it can be extended as required should the Blackpool Sixth team spot any other opportunities to enhance the student experience.

Gallery Image

Content entry service

Content entry training to ensure success

Not all content can be migrated straight across when we update your website. And, more often than not, you'll want to update it, anyway. We offer content entry as a service, but often, our clients opt to enter content themselves. In Blackpool's Sixth case, the team opted to enter the content themselves and found this straightforward (and, dare we say, enjoyable) following a remote training session on the system.

The idea with our solution is always to give our clients control over their content. You should never have to contact us and wait for simple text, video and imagery updates. That said, some clients prefer us to create new pages and sections for them, and we’re always willing to do that if required.

The result:

The Blackpool Sixth team wanted a new website that reflected their modern approach to sixth-form education. An on-brand, easy-to-update solution that was simple for administrators to manage. Education is ever-evolving, and the college needed a solution that keeps pace with change, with the option to extend it to meet student needs. We provided a tool that allows administrators to engage with students in a clearer, visually appealing way. By introducing advanced functionality like the prospectus builder, we ensured that the website goes beyond a simple 'portfolio' site to provide real value for its student users.

Head of Admissions at Blackpool Sixth, Jon McLeod, said:

"Feel Created has listened to what we asked for and delivered. Remote collaboration between our teams has been central to the successful delivery of this project. The remote CMS training, in particular, was very effective. Feel Created has helped us launch our website in peak condition, giving us the confidence to move it forward to meet future student needs."

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