TBG & Kauffman Foundation
Entrepreneurs face a myriad of challenges—starting a business, giving it practical legs, and navigating the complex world of financing and scaling up an idea in the real world. The Kauffman Foundation’s Entrepreneurship.org website has long been one of the most popular destinations on the Internet for its subject matter. When the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation approached TBG about engaging in the redesign and technology upgrade for a new online experience for Entrepreneurship.org, TBG viewed the assignment as a chance to create not only a best-in-class educational website, but also a successful content marketing and lead generation tool to power a growing community and ecosystem of entrepreneurs.
With a purpose to provide free and open-access high-quality information and learning opportunities to new and established entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship.org has always offered a plethora of resources, but the previous site fell short in terms of nurturing deeper relationships with visitors and eliciting repeat visits. It was an excellent chance to apply updated thinking and deeper usability to an already well-known, leading nonprofit education site. Through interviews with Kauffman Foundation stakeholders, analysis of analytics data, assessment of content on the previous iteration of the site, user testing, a review of best practices for similar websites, and additional benchmarking TBG had previously executed for educational institutions and non-profit organizations, TBG developed a new strategic vision the new digital experience would realize.
The fully Responsive site represents a major shift away from the previous navigation and user experience of the site to a cleaner, clearer user-centric experience utilizing a stronger taxonomy model to relate content in complex ways. Featuring a modular layout with ample use of white space and an immediately intuitive visual hierarchy, the design provides clear journeys to search or browse content from any page of the site, on any device. The site is designed to flow in a way that gets out of the user’s way and makes it easy, at every turn, for them to get the information they need. Some of the experience is made up of atomized articles, while other subjects require a more guided, serial treatment.
A new approach on the site, “Learning Paths,” featuring the curricula of the Founders School, is dedicated to educational tools for entrepreneurs, including articles, videos, podcasts, courses, quizzes, and more, which are now significantly better managed on the back-end in Sitecore CMS. The site makes use of gated high-value content as a mechanism for capturing emails to use for marketing other Kauffman Foundation programs to users. Authenticated users now have a richer on-site experience, including access to online “Learning Paths” and the ability to save an article to their libraries for reading later, as well as to track their progress on online “Learning Paths,” and to leave comments. In addition to encouraging user registration (which supports email acquisition) through value-added experiences, this functionality comes in handy forinstructors and students of other Kauffman programs who want to save and organize supplemental materials for a given course.
Contextual related links provide additional opportunity for content discovery at the detail page level. The Entrepreneurship.org site is an example of extremely high sustainability and back-end usability. Content managed in Sitecore 8.x, the site now has the ability to automatically generate related links (based on thoughtfully architected taxonomical associations), rather than the previous model, (in which an individual content editor was required to manually edit related links in a field in the former CMS). Special attention was given to issues like taxonomy and related content, search, and gated content. This content is then also available as a service to the larger multi-channel universe of other digital properties, social media channels and email marketing through APIs developed by TBG.
Technical applications and integrations on the back-end with Sitecore 8.x enable a large part of the site’s flexibility and sophisticated business rules. One of these is the integrations with Coveo, which provides integrated enterprise search. Another is integration with Microsoft Click Dimensions, an email marketing and engagement automation application for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. On the flipside, the front-end development manifests dynamic and stylized content and interactions, visible in portlets featured related content, form fields, multi-step forms, the ability to highlight text and share functionality, a custom HTML 5 player, and scrolling animation.
At the end of the day, entrepreneurship.org is a living digital universe, with flexible engineering to allow for an evolving digital platform, which will grow and change long after the initial launch. The team at Kauffman Foundation continues to produce content that will transform the site’s capabilities, and as user’s needs evolve, the experience will also change and grow to continue to support the needs of entrepreneurs everywhere.