London Property Holdings knew it could make much better use of its data to provide more accurate, up-to-date and meaningful investment information to its clients. But as a financial services business, it also needed to meet significant compliance and governance responsibilities. By combining an Umbraco-based content management system with a structured approach to content, Blueprint was able to deliver a robust, mobile-friendly website that aided compliance, simplified governance and delivered more meaningful information to clients.
What was the problem facing London Property Holdings?
London Property Holdings (LPH) is a privately-owned boutique property investment business. It invests in prime housing stock in central London, concentrating on key areas where supply is limited and demand is strong. Its clients include private, professional and institutional investors, attracted by LPH’s personalised service and extensive experience.
The company’s investment strategy is defined by a sharp focus on asset performance. So it is vital for them to be able to provide investors with accurate and up to date information about the performance of their assets. At the same time, as a financial services investment company, LPH must operate within a sophisticated legal compliance and audit framework, including how it calculates, collects and publishes data about the business, its operations and its investments.
LPH approached Blueprint in 2013 as it was looking to radically overhaul its website, not only the design and front-end performance, but particularly in terms of the back-end functionality. An essential requirement of the new site was to develop a secure log-in area, where clients could log in and view real time performance data for their specific investments and transactions, as well as details of forthcoming investment opportunities.
The new website also needed to be able to integrate with a diverse range of back-office data common to financial services organisations, such as billing systems, client information, financial records and account details, as well as more general company information such as news and events.
How Blueprint used a structured content approach to overcome these challenges
The challenge was to develop a website with the power and versatility to take complex information from different datasets, boil it down to meaningful analytics, and then present it in clear and engaging way for users.
Blueprint combined an Umbraco-based web content management system with a structured (or intelligent) content approach to information management to meet these challenges.
With the Umbraco CMS, complex information could be categorised into granular fields, such as investor name, transaction number, transaction type, price, quantity and value, with the data being automatically ‘pulled’ from the relevant databases and data feeds. In doing so, it provided LPH with a much greater degree of editorial governance and made it easier for it to meet its robust compliance obligations.
Likewise, news articles and other types of information could be broken down into separate ‘chunks’ of information, e.g. heading, sub-title, contents, introduction, contact details, using specially configured Umbraco interfaces, taxonomy and meta data frameworks.
What are the benefits for LPH of the new system?
The Umbraco-based structured content approach enables LPH to make much better use of its data. Rather than being ‘locked away’ in back office databases and records, it is transformed into intelligent content that can be queried, analysed, visualised and re-used for different purposes and channels. What’s more, Umbraco’s mobile-friendly functionality makes it ideal for viewing on mobile phones and tablets.
This freed LPH staff from the onerous task of manually retrieving data from diverse databases and data feeds, and from trying to bolt on plug-ins to a legacy CMS which was not designed to handle the wide range of content common in the financial services sectors.
What is intelligent content?
‘Intelligent content’ is a term coined by Ann Rockley, a world-renowned expert in organising and presenting online information. The approach involves breaking down content into easily manageable and reusable chunks. Traditional website development often takes a simplistic approach that treats content as just being ‘pages’, but as sites grow, unstructured content that is locked-in to specific pages soon becomes very difficult to manage. By adopting a structured approach, content becomes easier and less costly to maintain.
As Rockley puts it:
"Intelligent content is content that is structurally rich and semantically categorised, and is therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable." Reuse and adaptability are vital if we want content to be shareable, discoverable and capable of publication to multiple platforms, including mobile devices.