Part of the Forestry Commission, OWLS is an organisation that helps teach kids more about our woodlands by bringing educators together and provide them with the resources and funding to facilitate regional groups around the country.
01. Project Brief
SBP was tasked with developing a new brand identity and website that would perform a number of key tasks for the smooth operation of the organisation and the groups it supports. In addition to providing information about the organisation, general news, training providers and best practice guidelines for teachers, there was also a need for back office function where groups can submit funding applications, which is then managed end to end from within the website.
Another key feature of the site is a vast library of learning and research resources, this had to be managed and made as accessible as possible. Finally, each of the regional groups were to have their own microsite with administrative rights over content.
02. Creative Development
At the time of briefing, OWLS was know simply as the Forest Education Initiative. We put forward the proposition of the name change and a rather appropriate acronym which was supported by the development of Sylvie the Owl, he personifies the spirit of learning and adventure the organisation is tasked with facilitating and communicating.
The web development was a complex proposition so we opted for a fully bespoke build for the back office functions and ExpressionEngine CMS to manage the front end content. The site offers a fully searchable resource library where users can preview content, favourite items and share with colleagues. The creation of a secure group administration area allows nominated admins to manage their own page content, submit funding applications, upload resources and share files with the OWLS community.
The funding applications are managed online where the National Coordinator and assessment panel can share comments and move the application through a staged process with notifications sent to those involved when input is required. The system tracks each successful award through to project completion and submission of final reports.
03. Results & Feedback
The site has proved very effective in streamlining the day to day management of the organisation with key staff now able to dedicate much more time to actually teaching. Natural Resources Wales have since adopted the same system for their Outdoor Learning Wales Network which follows the same model as OWLS. The site offers the same functionality with the addition of multilingual content as a Welsh language version is mandatory for all Welsh public sector online content.