AgriFood Training Partnership

AgriFood scientist
AgriFood Training Partnership (AFTP)
Drupal Website
CRM integration
Universities and HE

The AgriFood Training Partnership (AFTP) appointed IE Digital to develop a new Drupal website with a seamless, joined-up user experience across the online user journey.

The AFTP is a newly formed organisation that brings together six of the UK’s leading universities to become the ‘go to place’ for education and training in the Agrifood industry. The new website creates a unified application and course administration process across all these training partners, and picked up a Silver W3 award as an outstanding School/University Website. 

Visit the AFTP website

Integrated application process

In its old incarnation of three separate Advanced Training Partnerships (ATPs), the branding had yo-yoed between that of the ATP and those of its partner universities throughout the participant journey.

IE Digital’s stakeholder research showed that participants were often confused by the existing systems and comms involved in taking a course. So, for their relaunch as a single entity, the AFTP needed a much more unified experience across the participant journey – the marketing comms they received and the application and course administration process.

In order to provide a more integrated online process for the AFTP’s training participants, IE Digital conducted a stakeholder workshop and follow-up calls with AFTP’s delivery partners. We needed to understand the process and digital setup for the six partner universities, in order to define a unified process from application to completion. It had to be focused on the needs of learners, while reducing administrative overheads for the AFTP and its partners.

AFTP Stream steps
AFTP Steps
IE Digital stood out head and shoulders above the competition in their commitment to ‘get it right’ in tackling the challenges we threw at them. For us, a project of this scale was daunting but with IE Digital’s creativity combined with strong project management skills, I believe we have produced an excellent start to the project that will help us attract the participants we need to make the AFTP a success.

They produced a visually appealing but technically sophisticated site, application and CRM system with the features and functionality we were looking for.
Deborah Kendale, Business Development and Marketing Manager, University of Nottingham
Agri process
Bringing consistency across six universities

It became clear during our Partner Consultancy Phase that a rigid process or single digital system (through which all course journeys could flow) was not the solution.

The systems, processes and courses of the various partner universities were too disparate, and bringing them together was likely to result in an overly complex bespoke system – proportionately expensive to build, and difficult to maintain and grow.  Instead of a ‘one size fits all’, wholly digital solution, IE Digital’s recommended system brings consistency to the process, simplifies administration and provides better control over participant data, yet still allows the flexibility to cope with differing circumstances.

The eventual website is designed around the needs of key users:

  • Participants/Learners – need a simple, intuitive consistent experience of the AFTP when looking and applying for a course
  • The AFTP – need to improve visibility of courses, increase number of applicants and the ability to collect and leverage learners' data, while minimising admin overheads
  • Partner Universities – the six core partner universities – Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cranfield, Harper Adams, Nottingham and Reading– need to market their courses effectively through the AFTP and minimise learner administration.
Agri mock up on mobile and computer
Agrifood tractor
Single customer view CiviCRM integration

IE Digital delivered the website design and build as five separate work streams.

Our development team worked alongside in-house developers from the University of Nottingham, to maximise the AFTP’s budget and meet ambitious deadlines for the site’s launch. IE Digital acted as guardians of the technical architecture, splitting the work into discrete tasks.


1. Marketing website

This is the AFTP’s new ‘shop window’ to increase awareness among prospective learners, employers and budget-holders/decision-makers. It is designed around the motivations, wants and needs of these audiences, and provides easy ways to find course information.


2. Course application form

The website guides participants towards conversion, and acts as a launch pad for the new digital course application form. The new online form has been carefully designed to simplify the application process for participants and provide a seamless user experience. It’s intuitive and straightforward, shielding applicants from as much complexity as possible to minimise the dropout ratio.

The application form incorporates the common elements from across the full range of courses and university delivery partners. To avoid any duplication of effort for applicants, we avoided requesting any information that would be collected again later in the process through the disparate university systems.


3. CRM database

The CiviCRM database provides a single customer view for course participants throughout their journey. This provides the AFTP with the insight they need to ensure the training offering remains relevant and high-value, and tailor its marketing accordingly.

The database is closely integrated with the application form, and any existing data held about the applicant is used to pre-populate the form to avoid requesting it again. It’s also used to trigger communications through the Automated Email Service.


4. Automated email service

The automated email service sends the right messages to the right people at the right time, all triggered by data from the CiviCRM system – such as an application being received or a course being marked as completed. This helps to coordinate the participant, the AFTP, and the University delivery partner, keeping everyone informed throughout the process and prompting them to complete actions as needed. This keeps the process flowing, reduces the administrative overhead, and brings consistency for participants.


5. The overarching process

The participant journey needed to work for all partners, so the final stream gave IE Digital the opportunity to refine and implement the standard base process that links together all the new systems, and ensure it was flexible enough to deal with the various exceptions and differing circumstances. We described the interconnected journeys of learners, the AFTP and partner universities, from application to completion, to define the responsibilities of each party, the order of the various actions, and the flow of data between people and systems.

Awarding-winning website and brand

IE Digital provides ongoing hosting and support for the AFTP website and application process. 

The website won Silver at the W3 awards, recognising it as an outstanding school/university website. 

IE Brand also supported AFTP with the creation of it new brand messaging, visual identity, templates and artwork for the launch and beyond. It went on to be shortlisted in the Transform Awards Europe 2019, in the category 'Best Visual Identity from the Farming and Agriculture Sector'. 

6 core partner universities delivering agrifood courses through the AFTP (Reading, Nottingham, Aberystwyth, Harper Adams, Cranfield and Bangor)
17 in-depth telephone interviews with course participants, backed up by an e-survey
Winner of a Silver W3 Award for Outstanding School/University Website