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London Anchors Network

Building a low-code collaboration platform for London institutions

Bloomberg Associates was bringing its ‘Anchors’ programme to London, but the timeline was tight. With only six weeks between the project conception and the speech from the Mayor of London that would launch the platform, Bloomberg turned to their trusted development partner, Browser London.

The Brief

As the philanthropic consulting arm of the Bloomberg media group, Bloomberg Associates works at no cost with city leaders to help solve complex municipal challenges. Its Anchors program – pioneered in Cleveland, Detroit and Washington DC – brings together large organisations within a city, giving them a platform to cooperate and share knowledge.

The brief was to create a website that underpinned the new initiative. It was to act as the public face of the London Anchors Institutions’ Network, and as a private meeting and collaboration point for members. In addition, the site needed to be simple to update and edit, as after development, ownership of the platform would pass to a non-technical team at the Greater London Authority.

The Anchors project is contributing to London’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Low-code, high-speed

With a compressed development timeline, picking the right platform to build the site on was crucial. WordPress and pattern-based React builds were considered, but while these would have gotten the site up quickly, both would have over-engineered the solution and required dedicated development resources to maintain.

Instead, we opted to build the site on the Squarespace low-code SaaS platform. While it’s unusual to see an experienced digital agency opting for a low-code editor like Squarespace, it fitted the client’s needs perfectly. Its simplicity meant the end owner’s non-technical team would be able to update and maintain the site, while its build templates meant the structure of the pages could be sketched out in real time on a video call with the client team.

The Squarespace platform also managed domain name and hosting processes, and had a simple ‘members area’ add-on subscription that allowed the site to host the gated content for members to access, as required by Bloomberg Associates.

With an ambitious schedule, it was important the development team hit the ground running with this project. The low-code web build that Browser pitched fitted the bill perfectly, successfully delivering the project on time for it’s launch by the Mayor of London.

Gordon Innes, Head of Economic Development – Bloomberg Associates

Coordinating content

With multiple stakeholders, the content creation and approval process for the site needed to be tightly managed. Across Bloomberg Associates, The Mayor’s Office, and the Greater London Authority, there were numerous individuals and teams that needed to approve the images, text and structure of the site.

To achieve this a clear sign-off hierarchy was put in place, with strict deadlines for given content sections. Careful control of edit and approval rights within Google Docs was set up, meaning edits and changes from each stakeholder organisation funnelled into a single senior colleague. This streamlined the process, allowing a large amount of content to be written, agreed and laid out rapidly. 

The low-code platform means the GLA are able to maintain and update the site without technical resource on hand.

The result

Thanks to a tight focus on outcomes and careful management of the project stakeholders, the Anchors.London low-code website was delivered on time for the project launch a mere six weeks after the idea was hatched.

Maintaining a close eye on the client’s needs and the future ownership structure of the site ensured that the site has quickly become an important resource for Anchors institutions. It would have been easy to fall into the trap of over-engineering the platform, but keeping the site simple to edit and maintain through clever platform choices has helped ensure the information on the site remains up-to-date and relevant for its users.