Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Transforming the Best Education Site for Entrepreneurship Online

Getting on Track to Learn

Getting on Track to Learn

Via Sitecore, the educational information that is the core of Entreprenurship.org is delivered in many ways, and the site strategically makes use of a variety of approaches to support different use cases of visitor engagement. The site features video-based, sequential "learning paths" into various topics, as well as individual articles, videos, and podcasts. Deepening users’ relationship with the site, several strategies have converted users from one-time visitors, including those who read a single article, to recurring site users. Visitors can subscribe to access more content, which has resulted in a significant increase in lead conversion. Dynamic “calls to action” on articles and other detail pages drive users to associated learning paths and automated related links.

Check out the learning paths
detail of entrepreneurship.org's Learning Paths page
Surfacing Relevant Content

Surfacing Relevant Content

Navigation based on phases of business development and on users’ interests allow users to easily find the content that is most relevant via dynamically placed in-content portlets to call out other related content on the site. Each piece of content on the site is tagged with topical term(s) based on interests and phases in the development of an entrepreneur’s business venture, and these taxonomical associations allow content to appear in multiple sections of the site—without the need to duplicate content or push a user into a different section of the site. The improved taxonomy also supports a robust, faceted site search using Coveo, which allows for type-ahead search with suggested terms and phrases, a synonym library, faceted filtering, and curated search.

Check out the search experience.
detail of entrepreneurship.org's Search
Compelling Multimedia Interface & Experience

Compelling Multimedia Interface & Experience

With more than 300 videos and close to 40 podcasts, the redesign of Entrepreneurship.org required a detailed strategy to both highlight and encourage users to engage with the multimedia content that the site offers. Compelling, documentary-style videos highlight a range of topics, including lessons and interviews with successful entrepreneurs. Video and audio elements appear throughout the site to enrich the user experience and to provide opportunities for more comprehensive and dynamic learning via multimedia content. The search and filtering experiences also allow for visitors to filter results by content type.

Check out the multimedia content experience
detail of entrepreneurship.org's video course outline

TBG & Kauffman Foundation

Entrepreneurs face a myriad of challenges—starting a business, giving it practical legs, and navigating the complex world of financing and scaling up an idea in the real world. The Kauffman Foundation’s Entrepreneurship.org website has long been one of the most popular destinations on the Internet for its subject matter. When the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation approached TBG about engaging in the redesign and technology upgrade for a new online experience for Entrepreneurship.org, TBG viewed the assignment as a chance to create not only a best-in-class educational website, but also a successful content marketing and lead generation tool to power a growing community and ecosystem of entrepreneurs.

With a purpose to provide free and open-access high-quality information and learning opportunities to new and established entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship.org has always offered a plethora of resources, but the previous site fell short in terms of nurturing deeper relationships with visitors and eliciting repeat visits. It was an excellent chance to apply updated thinking and deeper usability to an already well-known, leading nonprofit education site. Through interviews with Kauffman Foundation stakeholders, analysis of analytics data, assessment of content on the previous iteration of the site, user testing, a review of best practices for similar websites, and additional benchmarking TBG had previously executed for educational institutions and non-profit organizations, TBG developed a new strategic vision the new digital experience would realize.

The fully Responsive site represents a major shift away from the previous navigation and user experience of the site to a cleaner, clearer user-centric experience utilizing a stronger taxonomy model to relate content in complex ways. Featuring a modular layout with ample use of white space and an immediately intuitive visual hierarchy, the design provides clear journeys to search or browse content from any page of the site, on any device. The site is designed to flow in a way that gets out of the user’s way and makes it easy, at every turn, for them to get the information they need. Some of the experience is made up of atomized articles, while other subjects require a more guided, serial treatment.

A new approach on the site, “Learning Paths,” featuring the curricula of the Founders School, is dedicated to educational tools for entrepreneurs, including articles, videos, podcasts, courses, quizzes, and more, which are now significantly better managed on the back-end in Sitecore CMS. The site makes use of gated high-value content as a mechanism for capturing emails to use for marketing other Kauffman Foundation programs to users. Authenticated users now have a richer on-site experience, including access to online “Learning Paths” and the ability to save an article to their libraries for reading later, as well as to track their progress on online “Learning Paths,” and to leave comments. In addition to encouraging user registration (which supports email acquisition) through value-added experiences, this functionality comes in handy forinstructors and students of other Kauffman programs who want to save and organize supplemental materials for a given course.

Contextual related links provide additional opportunity for content discovery at the detail page level. The Entrepreneurship.org site is an example of extremely high sustainability and back-end usability. Content managed in Sitecore 8.x, the site now has the ability to automatically generate related links (based on thoughtfully architected taxonomical associations), rather than the previous model, (in which an individual content editor was required to manually edit related links in a field in the former CMS). Special attention was given to issues like taxonomy and related content, search, and gated content. This content is then also available as a service to the larger multi-channel universe of other digital properties, social media channels and email marketing through APIs developed by TBG.

Technical applications and integrations on the back-end with Sitecore 8.x enable a large part of the site’s flexibility and sophisticated business rules. One of these is the integrations with Coveo, which provides integrated enterprise search. Another is integration with Microsoft Click Dimensions, an email marketing and engagement automation application for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. On the flipside, the front-end development manifests dynamic and stylized content and interactions, visible in portlets featured related content, form fields, multi-step forms, the ability to highlight text and share functionality, a custom HTML 5 player, and scrolling animation.

At the end of the day, entrepreneurship.org is a living digital universe, with flexible engineering to allow for an evolving digital platform, which will grow and change long after the initial launch. The team at Kauffman Foundation continues to produce content that will transform the site’s capabilities, and as user’s needs evolve, the experience will also change and grow to continue to support the needs of entrepreneurs everywhere.

Technology Partners

  • graduation cap icon350K Worldwide Have Taken a Kauffman Online Course
  • magnifying glass icon300+ Online Entrepreneurship Videos
  • award ribbon icon$140M Awarded in Scholarship Funding
  • person icon1MC Startup Program Active in 50 Cities
  • 1966Year the Kauffman Foundation Was Founded
Utilizing Gated Content for Lead Generation

Utilizing Gated Content for Lead Generation

Gated content for authenticated users of Entrepreneurship.org results in a richer on-site experience, including access to online learning paths and the ability to bookmark articles and track course progress. To create an account, the user registers with a minimal amount of information, name and email address. When the user returns to the site, the system prompts the user to complete a full profile. Integration with MS Click Dimensions email marketing platform allows for this multi-channel marketing system to automate emails to users encouraging them to complete a certain learning path, for example. Success may be quantified via the assessment of analytics data by monitoring and measuring gated content model and other new marketing tactics. With this user information, the user experience will enable personalization based on preferences indicated in the user profile or tracked user behavior. Everything is built to enable the full range of Sitecore personalized content.

Animated, Interactive Design

Animated, Interactive Design

Scrolling of the page prompts various elements, including an animated header that moves in and out of view (based on the direction of scrolling), social sharing tools that appear in the bottom right corner past a certain point on the page, and animation of homepage features when a certain point in the page is reached. This gives the user pleasure and creates the impression of a modern digital environment, which blends well with the directness and usability of the overall design.