Content choices based on stats, surveys and strategy
Our new institutional website is the result of a long preparatory thinking process, leading to a written web communication strategy that avoids a certain arbitrariness in the choice of web content. It is based on visitor statistics, a visitor and BIRA-IASB staff survey, strategical notes of the direction and brainstorm sessions.
The website was released in December 2019 with, besides pages about vacancies, contact options, research domains, our publications and our data, a very important focus on:
- educational articles about our research topics (in the form of an encyclopedia)
- regular reports on important findings of our science and engineering teams (news and annual report)
In-house web development
The web team built the site in-house with the open source software Drupal-8 and hosts it on the BIRA-IASB webservers. Lay-out creation, as well as system, database and content management for almost 90 educational encyclopedia pages, 50 news articles and more than 30 annual report articles in English, French and Dutch are part of the job.
Search for ‘aeronomy’ on your mobile phone!
Given the huge importance of search engines on the internet, we invested in search engine optimization SEO and improved the site on the level of technical aspects and content matters. The result was impressive. Starting from percentages lower than 20% for the old website in the years prior to 2018, our analytics tools now counted an average of 64% of visitors that found our new pages in 2020 via search engines.
Closely related to this, BIRA-IASB also followed the global mobile device trend and gave the new site a responsive design. This means that for every screen size (phone, tablet or desktop) the visitor sees an adapted layout. Since the old website was not that mobile friendly, we were very happy to see that in 2020 almost half of our encyclopedia visitors (46%) were using a smartphone. For news pages this was 37%.
Our web analytics tools also clearly indicate a wide international reach for the year 2020 with visitors from all over the world. Given the international character of our Institute (nationality personnel and partnerships per country), this makes us very satisfied.
Future chapters in the never-ending web-building story
In the next steps, we will publish improved contact possibilities and merge existing BIRA-IASB subsites in the new one. Ongoing visitor statistics completed with user/usability tests will reveal necessary improvements, which we will translate in new or extended features.