The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Through ULI’s research including reports, webinars, case studies, events, and more, ULI is able to deliver global content to its members. Established in 1936, the institute has more than 45,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.

Urban Land Institute's "Explore" page

Challenge

Member-driven organizations are deeply immersed in research and education. A key driver of an organization’s value, and specifically for ULI, is the resources they provide their members to ensure they are successful and make a lasting impact on their communities, as well as the industry at large. Because of ULI’s breadth and distribution of content across over 100 web properties, thousands of events, ecommerce platforms, and previously nondigitized reports, accessing the most relevant content can be challenging for members.

ULI had long heard from its members that there was a need for better access to knowledge and content generated across the global organization, so they approached Velir to build on successes from their prototype Knowledge Finder. The all-new platform aimed to harvest content from across ULI and deliver a powerful, predictive search engine powered by AI and machine learning to help members find the most relevant industry knowledge from thousands of resources and thought leadership pieces.

Velir proposed that ULI could more effectively deliver on this promise by building a more enjoyable, intuitive, and scalable search and browsing experience that effectively meets members’ needs and expectations.  
 

Approach

Our approach from strategy to development aimed to make content both accessible and easily managed. We refined and organized taxonomy, grouped and surfaced desirable content categories, and utilized logic to recommend additional valuable resources based on member behaviors and interests. Additionally, our content authoring improvements leveraged automation and integration with ULI's existing AMS, NetFORUM.

Understanding the need to return more relevant search results, we implemented Coveo’s machine learning, along with contextually intuitive search features like pre-filtered listing pages that empower users to find applicable content quickly. We also made a push to make all future content types (reports, events, videos, webinars, and more) and formats (PDFs, videos, webinars) available in search, specifically by enabling the ability to search key terms and phrases within.
 
Data capture is the nucleus of a successful site implementation, since it informs future optimizations. We implemented Google Analytics, Sitecore Analytics, Coveo Cloud, and on-site tags to identify user interactions and behaviors at a much deeper level. Integrating with NetFORUM via member sign in also gave us the opportunity to make the connection between those users and their behaviors. As a second phase of this effort, we are working to personalize individual members’ browsing experiences by analyzing and applying user data to dynamically surface content.

Solution

  • Accessible content in a centralized hub that prioritizes member expectations
  • A seamless content authoring experience for contributors
  • Refined navigation structure and nimble search functionality that caters to user needs and behaviors
  • A performance measurement plan that supports continued learning and future optimizations
  • Knowledge.uli.org has a refined and organized taxonomy to create a more effective navigation and search experience authoring experience within Sitecore. Through an integration with NetFORUM, ULI’s AMS, content can be authored once and published in multiple places, ultimately eliminating some unnecessary effort and process inefficiencies for staff/contributors.
  • Multi-lingual capabilities enabled to launch a Japanese version of the site, with many other languages to follow.
  • Grouped, created, and surfaced content categories such as reports, events, books, videos, webinars, case studies, and reading lists
  • Logic to recommend additional valuable resources
  • Artificial intelligence and machine-learning powered by Coveo, with contextually intuitive search features like pre-filtered listing pages that empower users to find applicable content quickly
  • All content types and forms (PDFs, webinars, videos, articles) included in search
  • Automation that creates a simplified authoring experience within Sitecore. Through integration with NetFORUM, content can be authored once and published in multiple places, ultimately eliminating some unnecessary effort and process inefficiencies for staff/contributors.
  • Google Analytics, Sitecore Analytics, Coveo Cloud, and tagging to identify user interactions and behaviors at a much deeper level, providing analytics that can be used to increase overall performance. Integration with NetFORUM via member sign in also surfaces powerful connections between those users and their behaviors
  • Personalization of individual members’ browsing experiences by analyzing and applying user data to dynamically surface relevant content based on preferences (in progress).