National Heritage Academies

National Heritage Academies is a network of 85+ public charter schools serving more than 58,000 students in 9 states in the USA. NHA is the 4th largest for-profit education network in the USA.

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Whatever it Takes

Client Needs

The goals for the site included replacing the existing website that was powered by legacy technologies with an easy-to-use CMS that would allow for many editors to make changes quickly and efficiently from both the corporate office as well as multiple individual school administrations. Other goals include:
  • Replace an existing SharePoint platform which was not meeting the digital marketing team’s need in terms of flexibility and performance
  • Provide a set of tools that support modern digital marketing tactics such as content personalization, lead scoring, and advanced analytics
  • Ensure that existing integrations with NHA’s CRM, Marketing Automation Platform, and Student Information System applications still function
  • Implement a mobile-friendly, responsive design, that would allow users to easily view specialized features across multiple devices, including smartphone, tablet, desktop, and laptop

Challenges 

  • WCAG 2.0 AA compliance for website accessibility
  • Multilingual support for both English and Spanish cultures
  • A way to host 85+ individual school sites plus the corporate site, with unique content per site all in one website
  • Support multiple development teams working in cohesion
  • Complexity of multiple custom third-party integrations
  • Support state-specific legal requirements for educational institution websites
  • Site visitors need to easily find schools closest to their geographical location
  • National Heritage Academies needed the site to be hosted in the cloud so on-premise resources, connectivity, and scalability wouldn’t become an issue in the future
  • The site needed to load as quickly and efficiently as possible
  • Unique culture (language) specific URLs
  • National Heritage Academies needed global content intermixed with school-specific content, allowing content like school-specific blog posts to be pushed up to the corporate site and mixed with corporate content
  • National Heritage Academies wanted the ability to quickly create new sites for new schools as the organization continues to grow
  • Content on the site needed to be managed by admins within the corporate office as well as content admins from the 85+ NHA schools


Solution Highlights

  • BizStream custom developed more than a dozen different page components in the Kentico EMS MVC development method that provided the National Heritage Academies’ marketing teams the ability to easily create more than 1,000 variances of a page. The marketing team can choose from a variety of design components to build pages allowing them to easily mix and match design elements giving the ability to lay out a highly stylized page without additional developer effort
  • The BizStream development team created custom code to integrate with software such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, YouTube, Vimeo, and LiveChat
  • NHA utilizes the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker to evaluate the site for accessibility issues in real time
  • BizStream measured the site’s performance, stability, scalability, reliability, and speed under various workloads by utilizing Apache JMeter, Visual Studio, and Kentico.Glimpse (a debugging tool for Kentico MVC)
  • The new site utilizes Azure cloud technologies including an Azure SQL database, Azure App Services (PaaS), and Azure Application Insights to meet performance and scalability requirements
  • BizStream leveraged the existing Kentico Portal Engine tools, modified for MVC, to add Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for better visibility within search engines and mobile
  • BizStream utilized Compare for Kentico to make environment synchronization simple and precise.
For a full list of solutions see the National Heritage Academies​ Case Study.


Results 

In the short time that the new site has been live, National Heritage Academies has the following improvements: 

•    New users on the site has jumped 30%.
•    Average time on National Heritage Academies’ sites has increased 10%.
•    Time spent to fill out the Student Application Form has fallen by 23%. 
•    Conversion rate from organic search has increased over 20%. 
•    The National Heritage Academies’ teams are now able to manage content of the site without the need for technical expertise.


Key Criteria for Choosing Kentico 

Some of the specific Kentico features incorporated into the National Heritage Academies site include:

•    Easy to use content management system with intuitive interface for content authors.
•    ASP.NET MVC Support
•    On-line Forms
•    Localization and support for multiple languages
•    Heavy API usage
•    Cloud based Azure hosting
•    Cloud based Azure external storage
•    Responsive design
Like any large-scale project, there were challenges. This project was unique in that it required integration with numerous systems and technologies. BizStream and National Heritage Academies were able to tackle those challenges boldly and Kentico handled our complex solution very well. Managing content on our sites has vastly improved and mass edits and content validation has been streamlined as a result of our implementation of Kentico as our CMS.

BizStream provided a wealth of knowledge throughout the entire development and change management process. Because of the way National Heritage Academies chooses to do business, many teams and individuals are required to know how to use Kentico. BizStream was able to successfully deliver a feature-rich product and also provided us with insight into how to use Kentico. From a development standpoint, BizStream was willing and open to discussing their process and melding it with our own. This allowed us to share technical knowledge throughout the project lifecycle.
 
Alex Schelhaas - Digital Marketing Manager