Sheffield Homes - website development, design and copywriting

What Acceleris was asked to do

Sheffield Homes, which manages 42,000 properties on behalf of Sheffield City Council, appointed Acceleris in 2009 to devise, design and provide hosting for a brand new website for residents, incorporating our bespoke tenant communication portal @home. Acceleris was also asked to assist with content production.

The project had a tight turn-around time as the client was shortly due to undergo an inspection by the Audit Commission. This required the Acceleris team to work quickly and efficiently with the client at every level to provide Sheffield Homes with a comprehensive, attractive and easy-to-use website which would stand the test of time and help Sheffield Homes with its online communications.

What we did

Acceleris’ team of digital and web development experts put a detailed production timeline in place for the client, with all timings approved and major milestones identified prior to the start of work.

Our designers created a 300-page website with a fresh, dynamic community look and feel, complete with user-friendly functions and tools, accessibility features and essential social housing facilities to pay rent online, make an enquiry or report a repair, for example.

A dedicated project manager was on-hand every step of the way, from inception to go-live, to provide the client with updates on site build progress. The team also worked alongside the communications department at Sheffield Homes on imagery, content sourcing and any day-to-day queries or issues that arose along the way.

To complement the @home module, a branded character called ‘Homesy’ was created to provide guidance to residents on how to navigate the site, enhancing its appeal and usability.

Due to an unforeseen resourcing issue on the client’s side, Acceleris was asked at a later stage to produce content for the entire website. There was a very tight deadline for this, but our team of senior copywriters worked quickly and as a close-knit team to produce high-quality SEO-optimised content for the entire site on schedule and to the client’s specifications.

While the site was built to meet all compliance and accessibility standards, Acceleris liaised closely with tenants on both the site’s design and usability, including a visually-impaired resident to confirm the site met the expectations of those who would be using it on a day-to-day basis.

The results

The quality, design and content of the website "exceeded the expectations" of the client and were delivered on time and to budget.

It played a significant part in Sheffield Homes' Audit Commission report, which saw the organisation receive a three-star rating (the highest in the sector), with inspectors praising the website and @home in particular.

Website hits also increased dramatically, with a rise of 86 per cent in the first 3 months after launch, compared with the original site’s performance.

Quote

Catherine Elphee, Communications Manager at Sheffield Homes, said: "Not only did Acceleris meet our deadline, but the site received plenty of praise from the inspectors, with the @home section highlighted as an example of best practice."

"One of the agency’s strengths is their in-depth understanding of the sector - not only our customers, but also our staff and the pressures we work under. They worked tirelessly to meet our every need, with the end result being that the site is practically bespoke in every aspect."

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