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Sigma appointed to deliver digital excellence for Housing Trust

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Peaks & Plains manages over 5,000 homes across Cheshire and the High Peak

Leading user experience (UX) agency, Sigma, has been appointed by Macclesfield-based Peaks & Plains Housing Trust to deliver a refreshed and improved website with a focus on user experience.

Peaks & Plains, a social landlord which manages over 5,000 homes across Cheshire and the High Peak, provides good quality, affordable and secure tenancies to individuals and families. Through its newly-announced five year plan, the Trust aims to continue improving lives by being a great landlord to its tenants across all properties in the region. An updated digital offering will play a key role in this, allowing users easier access to the website and the full range of Peaks & Plains services.

Sigma has a longstanding relationship with Peaks & Plains, having designed the Trust’s website, intranet and supported on a range of digital initiatives since 2012.

This new brief calls on Sigma to modernise and update the site, by completing two key phases. The first is a full ‘discovery and design’ stage, in which its team of UX specialists will facilitate a range of workshops with staff, create an interactive design prototype and carry out usability testing with customers to make sure that the new site addresses the needs of the tenants, as well as the Trust’s business requirements. This user-centred approach is tried and tested by Sigma, and allows rapid changes to the design early in the project lifecycle.

The second stage will see Sigma implement these designs through a phase which includes front and back-end development, testing across the website’s functionality and accessibility, alongside cross-browser/platform testing. The site will be built using Umbraco, an open-source web content management system, and integrated with online self-service functionality. Sigma will then complete a thorough training and handover session with the Trust’s staff.

The project aims to ensure that the Peaks & Plains’ website facilitates excellent customer experience, whilst making it quick and easy for tenants to find relevant information. It will also ensure that key calls to action – for example online chat, booking and tracking a repair, reporting a problem and accessing a range of customer services – are made more visible. This will take a mobile-first approach, whilst using video and imagery more boldly to bring the brand to life online.

Simon Wissink, account manager at Sigma, said: “We can’t wait to get started on this project. Not only is it a logical next step in our ongoing work with Peaks & Plains, but it also builds on our credentials as an agency with a strong ethical and socially responsible vein running through both our culture and philosophies. Our team is ideally placed to provide digital support to the Trust’s network of tenants, and we’re looking forward to seeing the results of the new site, as well as its effect on the end user.”

Aileen O’Riordan, digital communications lead at Peaks & Plains, said: “Sigma has offered us more than an out-of-box solution. We chose them, in part, for their focus on user-centred design and our previous work with them on digital inclusion. By putting our customers at the heart of the development process, we can be sure that our new Umbraco website will provide a great platform from which to continue to enhance our online services.”