A 135-year-old institution, The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD), is dedicated to the art and teaching of dance. With a lengthy membership process requiring substantial experience to qualify, ISTD’s focus is not on driving new members. Instead, they aspire to be a centre of excellence, providing existing members with invaluable content and resources.

Their website was 12 years old, built in an archaic, bespoke CMS solution. This made creating, sharing and updating content a challenge and all processes, including memberships, exams and bookings, were manually completed. Approaching us with these challenges, we were tasked with bringing their brand and website into the modern day.

The Project

Their bespoke and outdated CMS housed all their data and content created over a long period of time. This created a restrictive and troublesome website to manage internally and difficult to navigate as a user. Content editors were limited to set page templates and unable to update existing content leading to a bloated site with 1000s of pages of content hidden behind a complex and poor user journey. Many of these were obsolete such as past event pages and old educational literature.

Prior to the project, ISTD undertook a rebrand exercise with their brand agency. Considering aesthetics, brand colours, tone of voice, values and core messaging pillars, these outputs have been developed further and implemented on their new website. With a focus on really understanding their audience, we needed to rebuild the site and create a seamless user experience, featuring automated processes and accessible resources.

The Solution

Running in-depth workshops, we explored branding, personas and detailed user journeys to build their key user personas. From this research, we focused on a sub-set of personas and identified new ones: young dancers and students who wanted to become teachers. This provided us with the basis to create an informed site design including significant UX considerations.

A re-platform to Kentico 12 MVC was chosen for its flexibility, ease of use and content features, providing ISTD with full control over their content pages. Nothing could be taken from the old website, so the project was approached as a full rebuild. Built for scalability and future-proofing, our developers considered how the website could continue performing at its optimum over the next five years. Adding form and function, we simplified the wealth of content and the way the website is navigated to create an improved user journey.

Content modelling was undertaken to understand the existing sitemap and why useful information was being restricted behind a member-only area. We considered what could be brought to the forefront to help drive more traffic and build a larger audience. With content a strong focus, connected agency, Ingenuity Digital, undertook content strategy work auditing over 8000 pages, building tone of voice guidelines and condensing and updating their content to make it more user friendly and impactful. Blockers were also reduced, removing old content and making SEO improvements to meta tags and copy to ensure Google can effectively crawl the website.

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