The new unionlearn website

We have just launched our new website!

Simon Parry from Infobo, who led the development of the new look unionlearn website, takes us through the changes.

Screen showing new website

I’ve been working with unionlearn over the last few months on a major website revamp.

The objectives behind the redesign are twofold:

  1. First, the graphic design of the previous site is a few years old now, and has benefited from a major overhaul.
  2. Secondly, the system the website is built on, the powerful open source Drupal software, has gone through a major generational change to Drupal 8, and so the site has been migrated onto the latest platform.

Drupal 8 is a big change from the previous Drupal 7 version. It has integrated with a number of modern coding standards, such and the Symphony Framework, to make it more robust and powerful. While WordPress is the most popular open source Content Management System in the world, Drupal is the most powerful.

This makes it perfect for sites like the TUC, unionlearn and many unions, as these sites have complex requirements. WordPress is easy to set up and great for small sites, but not recommended for complicated projects.

The unionlearn website has about 7,000 pages of content

The unionlearn website has about 7,000 pages of content, and so a strong approach to Information Architecture has been required to ensure the site is as easy as possible to navigate and search. The revamp has been used as an opportunity to tweak the navigation and structure to help make it as easy as possible to find the right information.

The graphical design has been refreshed to reflect the latest standards. The site still uses a responsive design to make it mobile and tablet friendly, but changes like larger font sizes and greater spacing cater for the increase in larger screens and higher resolution displays.

Unionlearn have also acted on feedback around the visuals, and so the new site has far more images and infographics than the old design.

With the GDPR regulations coming into force, the revamp has also been used as an opportunity to ensure that unionlearn complies with the highest standards around Data Protection. The email subscription process has been changed - and users don't need to register to subscribe anymore.

We've also used the opportunity to add new technologies, such as semantic markup. The semantic web is a way of structuring and tagging web pages so that they provide more information to other applications, such as search engines, apps and the increasing number of artificial intelligence-based assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.

This isn't something the average visitor will notice, but it means that content from the site can be indexed by search engines, shared on social media or retrieved by voice assistants more easily.

What's next for the website?

Further developments are planned in 2018. I’ve been working with unionlearn to identify labour market information and apprenticeships big data sources that can power a new section of the site dedicated to providing useful insights for ULRs and learners on things like pay, equality, unemployment and career opportunities. Watch this space...

Profile picture for user Simon Parry

Simon Parry

Simon Parry is the founder of Infobo, a website development and internet consultancy specialising in trade unions.

Simon has been working with unions and technology for over 15 years, and has pioneered the use of website technologies, including some of the first union members areas, virtual branch systems and full online joining systems.