Network Rail: A WordPress Case Study

Network Rail A WordPress Case Study, submitted by Wholegrain Digital, a London based Web Design Company.A WordPress Case Study, submitted by Wholegrain Digital, a London-based Web Design Company.

The Project

Network Rail owns and operates the entire railway infrastructure in the United Kingdom, managing 18 of the largest stations in England, Scotland and Wales. Network Rail delivers 4.5 million journeys a day for its customers, managing rail timetabling by working with several different partners across the UK. This project took place during the biggest upgrade of the network in 150 years and it’s aim was to similarly upgrade the website to make it easier for users to find the service they are looking for.

The Challenge

The challenge with this project was the number of different types of visitors to the website, who all arrive seeking different information to meet their needs. The website needed to appeal to all users, from employees (and potential employees!) to business partners, as well as those who are seeking up-to-date information on the ongoing upgrade works.

Why WordPress?

WordPress was the obvious choice for this project, being the best choice for enterprises and large organizations. The ability to create custom user roles was key in this project, as the site needed to be simple to use for the many people who would be managing it. This would ensure the content caters to a wide and varied audience.

The Obstacles

To address the challenge of ensuring the new site would appeal to a wide audience, a series of UX sessions were held with the client. This resulted in several user personas to ensure a full understanding of those who would be using the site, before approaching the design.

The Solution

The page templates were based on the defined users and then a custom theme based on these templates was created. To make sure the theme worked for Network Rail, several plugins and widgets were developed, including:

  • A custom career loader plugin to pull job opportunities through to the website
  • A feed loader plugin to automatically fetch and publish articles from Network Rail’s media partner
  • Several custom SiteOrigin widgets, in order to give content editors the ability to easily add specific styled content on any post, page or custom post type
  • A custom ‘approve posts’ plugin to allow specific user roles to suggest edits to posts and other user roles to approve and publish them
  • A custom ‘scheduling posts’ plugin to allow specific user roles to schedule changes to a post without affecting the live post.
  • Box and the SiteOrigin widget have been integrated in the site via a custom plugin. This allows editors to display folders and files from Network Rail’s Box account.

The Result

The new theme that was developed greatly improved the UX of the site and the various custom user roles make it much easier for Network Rail to manage them internally. The new design layout is also far easier for users to navigate and the site is now responsive across all mobile devices.