A WordPress Case Study, submitted by Wholegrain Digital, a London-based Web Design Company.
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 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.
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.
To address the challenge of ensuring the new site would appeal to a wide audience, a series of UX UX is an acronym for User Experience - the way the user uses the UI. Think ‘what they are doing’ and less about how they do it. 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 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 A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party 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 WordPress can hold and display many different types of content. A single item of such a content is generally called a post, although post is also a specific post type. Custom Post Types gives your site the ability to have templated posts, to simplify the concept.
- 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 A WordPress Widget is a small block that performs a specific function. You can add these widgets in sidebars also known as widget-ready areas on your web page. WordPress widgets were originally created to provide a simple and easy-to-use way of giving design and structure control of the WordPress theme to the user. 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 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.