INTO University Partnerships Contenful Headless CMS Information Design

INTO University Partnerships

Aims and Objectives

INTO University Partnerships are a company that helps students from overseas find university courses in the UK and US. Each year they place 14,000 students from 150 countries through their website or via their network of agents working directly with the prospective students.

They currently spend a large amount of time and money printing brochures and maintaining websites, apps and other digital products with information that quickly becomes out of date. There was a need to try and reduce costs and maintenance overheads which would help them now and in the future. 

To do this INTO selected Contentful to use as a headless CMS which could be used as a single source of information that could be dynamically distributed through to all its digital platforms via the Contentful APIs. Having this single data source would reduce the amount of time taken to perform updates and ensure that data is consistent across all their platforms.


Having a good data source was critical for the projects success. The first stage then was to take stock of what they had over the various web and print assets and perform an audit to asses its quality and whether it would be fit for purpose in the future. Working with the content editors at INTO we gathered all the content and compiled it into a spreadsheet sheet where a ROT (redundant, outdated, trivial) analysis was conducted. This gave us an idea of the job ahead for the content editors. I also spent time talking to key stakeholders in the organisation and to agents to understand their information needs at present and in the future.

One of the biggest challenges was to try and shift peoples notions of how a traditional CMS works (where editing work is normally done at a page template level) to how a headless CMS works (where content is structured around themes and relationships between elements of content). Using the content audit and the requirements  we had gathered from the agents and stakeholders we set about dissembling each page to its component parts. These parts were then grouped by content type (eg university accommodation options) and relationships between content types established (eg. University accommodation options to a University and a Location). This was done as a group activity with the content editors as I was keen to get their help to establish the relationships between content but also to help them understand the new way in which content would be structured and get this thinking about how they write content for the new CMS. 

Before content editors started using the CMS I was keen to get the data mapped out first. Initially we used paper and when that got to unwieldy I used the mapping tool  because it was flexible and could be shared with the team. There was a great deal of hidden complexity within the structure of the data and there were numerous iterations of the diagram as we refined and edited the map.

INTO Content Model Diagram


Once we were happy with the structure of the map I then converted the map into content types and fields which were entered into the CMS. This allowed the developers and editors to do content migration and move the content from its existing sources into the new central CMS.

Once the migration had been completed then it was relatively straightforward for the developers to use the APIs to create new page templates and launch the first website to use the new CMS which was a portal website for the agents.


The CMS is now up and running and has been successfully used to launch one public website which is the partner portal for agents. In the near future there are also plans to use the CMS APIs to power the student facing website, the agents app and a proposed kiosk implementation. In the future print collateral will be phased out and this will be the single CMS which will power all of the INTO websites and apps. 

I wrote a blog post about the mapping process here.

Date of Completion:

December 2017

Project Duration:

3 Months

Key Challenges:

  • Design structured content map to allow for multiple universities, courses, accommodation options and prices across differing entry requirements and term start dates
  • Consolidate information from numerous information sources both digital and physical onto one platform
  • Reeducate content producers into designing content for structured content instead of the traditional method of producing content for page templates