Peaks & Plains: A proactive Umbraco website refresh delivering improved accessibility and enhanced user experience

Peaks & Plains is a housing trust managing over 5,000 homes across Cheshire East and the High Peak. Nexer helped Peaks & Plains to upgrade and refresh their customer-facing Umbraco website through UX, accessibility and technical updates, providing a seamless customer experience for users.

Peaks & Plains

4 minute read

Peaks & Plains, a housing trust managing over 5,000 homes across Cheshire East and the High Peak, is a long-standing neighbour of Nexer in our Macclesfield offices. We've collaborated on several usability and accessibility projects with their tenants through the years.

Peaks & Plains engaged Nexer to upgrade and refresh their main customer-facing Umbraco website through UX, accessibility and technical updates, providing a seamless customer experience for users. Peaks & Plains also sought Nexer's expertise to review their website's security and accessibility, to future-proof the website by ensuring accessibility, security, and compliance with best practices and industry standards.

Technical approach and upgrade rationale 

Umbraco 7 reached End-of-Life in September 2023. Nexer conducted a thorough technical review of Peaks & Plains' existing website and presented a strategic approach to upgrading. We always recommend clients upgrade to the next Long-term Support (LTS) version of Umbraco for stability. 

When project discussions began, Umbraco 13 was not yet launched but was due for imminent release. As soon as Umbraco 13 became available, Nexer conducted a short proof-of-concept for upgrading to this version, to ensure the website would be future-proofed. We then performed the upgrade to Umbraco 13. 

Umbraco 13 is built on .NET Core, offering numerous benefits for users, content editors, and developers. Nexer helped Peaks and Plains leverage these advantages by opting to move to this version of the software. 

Here's how Umbraco 13 benefits Peaks & Plains: 

  • Compatibility: Compatibility with newer versions of .NET Core ensures the site can evolve and adapt to new technological requirements without major overhauls. 
  • Cost-effective hosting: .NET Core not only enhances hosting affordability but also provides flexibility in choosing hosting environments. 
  • Improved performance: Enhanced speed and efficiency create a smoother and quicker user experience for website visitors. 
  • Sustainability: Upgrading aligns with Peaks and Plains' ESG goals by making their digital estate more sustainable. Umbraco 13 is more energy-efficient.

Accessibility audit and design refresh 

Known accessibility issues existed on the website. Peaks & Plains, committed to an accessible user experience, ask us to conduct an audit to identify and fix these problems. Nexer performed an accessibility audit compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 standards. 

We generated a report categorised by severity and shared the findings with the project team. The team discussed these findings, and Nexer's UX team shared ideas on how to rectify them within the design refresh. 

Nexer recommended looking beyond the accessibility audit and redesigning website elements. This would not only fix accessibility issues but also offer a welcome refresh to key areas that had become outdated and misaligned with the organisation's vision. 

Nexer's UX design and accessibility teams collaborated closely to redesign website elements, enhancing user experience without compromising the familiar corporate identity. 

A screenshot showing a Teams call and a Miro board with designs for Peaks & Plains

Key outcomes 

Nexer's proactive approach yielded significant benefits beyond the initial project goals. By recommending a leap to Umbraco 13, we equipped the website with the latest technology, surpassing the originally planned upgrade to Umbraco 10. 

And we didn't just address accessibility shortcomings. Our creative redesign of key website elements ensured compliance with WCAG 2.2 accessibility best practices, offering Peaks & Plains much greater value. This extended to improvements in Google Lighthouse scores for accessibility, mobile SEO, and even carbon reduction on key pages. 

Nexer helped Peaks & Plains perform necessary upgrades to their corporate website, ensuring it reflects the organisation's values of inclusivity, security, and best practice. The project not only ensures compliance with industry standards but also future-proofs the website for years to come, allowing Peaks & Plains to stay ahead of the curve in providing excellent services to their tenants. 

Nexer collaborated with us to ensure that our website meets the needs of our customers. As a Trust, we strive to provide accessible information and services to all. Nexer's expertise sharing has given us confidence in achieving this goal and assurance around the security of the website.

Rachel Marsland, Customer Voice and Communications Manager Peaks & Plains Housing Trust

Headshot of Amy Czuba

Get in touch

Please email if you would like to work with our team on your project, or call our Macclesfield office on +44 (0)1625 427718