Brighton University have over 500 courses that they can offer to students and for a few years they have had a website to help with searching the courses database. The problem was that the search system didn’t work very well as it often provided poor search results and the ranking of the website in search engines was low due to the way the website was structured. So the Web Marketing Manager and I settled down with a list of requirements and planned how I would rebuild the software using Codeigniter PHP framework.
The main challenges were:
- Work with an extract of courses data from their internal Oracle based database system to create a new MySQL database
- Rewrite the searching system so that it works and provides accurate results
- Restructure the URLs, Meta Data and HTML to improve the search engine page rank
- Implement a new design layout
- Develop a custom CMS to allow the University to manage extra content related courses and provide students with more engaging content
We decided to split the project into two phases to make sure that the searching system and search engine friendly structure of the site were sorted out by a specific date. So for Phase 1 I developed the database and rewrote the software using Codeigniter MVC PHP framework to address the high priority requirements and we successfully hit the go live deadline. For Phase 2 I then implemented the new design layout and developed a custom CMS so that additional content could be managed more easily. Phase 2 is now live here.
In developing this project I :
- Converted the existing software from standard PHP to Codeigniter MVC
- Analysed the provided data and tested a number of different searching methods to provide focused search results
- Implemented pretty URLs, cleaned up the HTML and dynamically generated meta tags to improve SEO
- Implemented a new layout for the application from Photoshop files
- Implemented a Custom CMS to make it straight forward for website administrators to add videos, images and other content to specified areas of the website
- Implemented group level security in the CMS to restrict what areas of the website administrators can manage
This was a great project to work on and Brighton University are delighted with the results and the fact that they can now easily manage the content. The page rank of the website has improved enormously and there has been a huge increase in the number of unique visitors to the website as a result. So the website is now working really well for them.