Case Study: RSSB

Creating a new vision and improving engagement

The RSSB (Rail Safety and Standards Board) is a respected knowledge holder within the rail industry. However, some of its paying members were not engaging with the organisation’s online resources – partly because of their complicated content, language and layout, but also because they were hard to find online.

Creating an enduring legacy

We presented a new vision. We believed we could empower RSSB with the knowledge and tools it needed to engage its members, give them more for their membership fee and raise their profile as the go-to destination for railway news and information. 

Together we created a new area on their site with a user journey that better met the needs of their audience. Within this, we housed refreshed content that was written in plain English and was optimised for web. We trialled this in a six-week pilot, against existing performance and tracked its success.

But this project wasn’t just about getting more visitors onto the website. By working alongside RSSB and pooling our knowledge, we created an enduring legacy and fostered confidence in their newly-formed digital team, meaning they could continue to create effective, optimised content long after the project ended.    

Results of the six-week pilot of the new content (compared with the same period the year before):    

  • Page views for optimised and rewritten content up 264%
  • Downloads of documents on the optimised and rewritten pages up 93%
  • Traffic to the new content from social media up 106%

Creating a strong foundation

To practically demonstrate to RSSB how they could make their site better, we suggested that we take two of their key topic areas (Platform Train Interface and Health and Wellbeing) and improve their design, content and social media reach. We planned to do this by creating and improving content production workflows; rolling out new tone of voice guidelines; releasing major design and development changes to the website; and increasing the overall online engagement of both their paying members and wider public.

To support this programme of work, we advised RSSB that they should create a new digitally dedicated team. They were intrinsically involved in everything we created and represented a fresh perspective on the organisation’s digital approach.

To get everyone on-board, we issued a stakeholder engagement roadmap, which included our plans for a content pilot and new social media approach, as well as the information architecture for the entirety of their digital estate. We then collected data from the previous year; this was later compared against the pilot’s end results as a means of signifying its success.

Creating the conditions for a successful future

The content pilot kicked off with our copywriter’s tone of voice recommendations being rolled out across a selection of existing articles, with the aim of making them more readable and accessible - irrespective of rail knowledge.

Our copywriter transformed around twenty-five pieces, making them more succinct and scannable for digital readers. She also supported RSSB’s digital team in creating some twenty-five additional, refreshed articles. These updated articles were fed into five new templates— designed in-house by us – which were then optimised for RSSB’s digital audiences. They also allowed space for SEO and social fields, so the pieces had both optimised share and searchability. This supported our goal to make RSSB’s content more discoverable and raise their profile with new audiences.

A social media strategy was also at the transformation’s core. We put in place a detailed plan to assess the reaction of the new content on social media, then benchmarked RSSB’s digital estate to understand the whole picture. We then worked directly with their digital team to create a content calendar that would run in parallel with the redesign pilot. 

Off we go!

The pilot was launched, featuring redesigns of key aspects of the site including the homepage, new topic hub sections and a variety of rewritten articles optimised for the web. Content writers, designers and UX consultants had worked in teams of three to make the new topic-led pages a one-stop shop for scannable, easy-to-read content – a substantial move away from RSSB’s former lengthy, jargon-heavy structure. It paid off.

To measure the effectiveness of our pilot, we looked at the numbers of visitors that came to the RSSB site during the pilot, where visitors to the site originated from, and an overview LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. We also gathered feedback from visitors to the site through Hotjar. The stats came back and proved it had been a great success, with page views up 264% and downloads of resources and studies up 93%.

Social media engagement also improved, with double the number of visitors to the site visiting from social media posts. Our HotJar survey feedback was also overwhelmingly positive, with comments from users like: “Can I offer a pat on the back? The RSSB and its website provides an exemplar of openness and accessibility.” And “Good web site presentation. The site is easy to navigate which makes finding the relevant information easy.”

Teach a man to fish…

In addition to this, we helped RSSB to develop their own skills. By sharing insights with the social media team, we helped them to understand more about engaging with their now-expanding audiences, and how to boost their reach.  Partnering this with our social media calendar, they were able to post with more relevance and regularity. This freed-up time to respond quickly to changing news and events in the industry.

Since the end of our involvement in this ongoing RSSB project, the digital team we helped to put in place has worked hard to integrate itself across the organisation and has become an invaluable part of the company. They are now using the lessons and templates we left them to create effective and attractive new pages and are equipped with the tools they need to succeed in the future. A third topic has now been transformed with our digital rules in mind, and the team are now embarking on their own technical IA mapping project. We couldn’t be more excited to watch this organisation’s abilities grow.