Expanding community through personalization and performance

Along with Autodesk University’s growth, came a critical opportunity to manage the expanding libraries of content and personalize user experience on a global scale. 
"It felt like we were a partner. We weren't just being told, 'you have to do this' or 'you have to do that'. It was a very creative collaboration."
Rebecca Arsham – Online Program Manager, Autodesk University

The Challenge

Craft an innovative and reliable online experience to develop a more robust and engaged global community.

The Result

A reliable digital ecosystem that promotes interaction, unifies experience, and scales across environments.

The Background

Autodesk University (AU) is Autodesk’s educational community, established around an annual conference in Las Vegas and expanded through global participation. As AU’s Las Vegas event grew in notoriety, so did the community of people participating. New conferences launched in London, Germany, Russia, and China. Digital courses and resource libraries were introduced. Online content multiplied. Online participation flourished. But the website wasn’t set up to handle the kind of volume and interaction capabilities needed. We identified a number of areas that required immediate attention:  
  • Site reliability
  • Content load times
  • User engagement and participation
  • Overall user experience

Improve stability and performance

When the AU team highlighted the site’s performance as a major concern, we identified key areas to address and focused on improving both reality and perception. Because the AU website stored so much media and content, loading everything quickly was an enormous challenge. It was also unnecessary.

Load content strategically

We implemented a technique called lazy loading, which delays or defers load time so that critical resources load first. Users on the AU site now see grey boxes or blurred images before the actual content appears. It buys a little time and makes sure the user knows something is happening.
“When it comes to effective product development, it’s more than just velocity. It’s velocity in the right direction."
Ed de Groot – CEO, Relevant Bits

Personalize the experience for every user

While reducing load times and increasing page speeds was important for overall functionality and reliability, developing a personalized experience for the user remained at the heart of the project.

Display relevant content

We started with user accounts and created two ways to access content on the website  one as a logged-out user and one as a logged-in user. As a logged-in user, content is now personalized based on three areas so users see what is most relevant to them: 
  • Topics
  • Industries
  • Products

Improve performance through personalization

Bringing content to the user rather than always having the user search themselves also improved performance by reducing search queries and website load times.

Build a reusable React framework to facilitate community

Community is core to Autodesk University’s ecosystem. AU’s worldwide events not only provide opportunities to learn and discover, but they also allow attendees to connect and build relationships with their peers. Outside of those events, the AU website helps users further develop those connections.

We created a reusable React framework that is tightly integrated into the existing website to support engagement across all pages and all content types. 

Design new ways to interact 

Users can make comments, follow other community members, share articles, and give content a ‘thumbs up’. The React library ensures this level of interaction can continue as the site — and community — grows.

Maintain flexibility

Since React components are modular, they can be edited or reused with minimal development support. Therefore, updates are truly fast and simple to make. 

Multiple communities, one site

While AU is an international organization, it wasn't always a well integrated team.

Events held around the globe — in places like London, Germany, China, and the Middle East — were quite separate from each other. While this was partly because of location, it was also influenced by culture and language. Participants attended events from different countries and content was generated and submitted in different languages.

Come together through localization

Managing events effectively in different languages and for different cultures, meant more than simply translating content. We used localization to adapt the AU website to fit cultural and linguistic preferences around the globe.
Image of home page for Autodesk University

See it in action

It's fun for us to talk about our work behind-the-scenes, but check out how the live site has come together. 

An ongoing partnership

Beginning in 2018, we started with AU’s website launch project. As the trust grew, so did the projects. We continue to partner with Autodesk on a number of efforts and greatly value our ongoing relationship.

We want to build something great with you.