Global Research and Consulting Firm Personalizes Web Experience for Members Using Sitecore

The Advisory Board Company (ABC) is a global research, consulting, and technology firm helping hospital and university executives to better serve patients and students. The company has a global network of 125,000 leaders at 3,200 healthcare and higher education organizations. The website serves as the main point of dissemination for all their intellectual property. ABC’s non-member site serves as an informational and marketing platform for identifying ABC’s goals and mission, encouraging service subscriptions, and recruiting top talent. However, the website did not serve the needs of a rapidly growing firm. Cross-promotional opportunities were limited, and the site provided no personalization opportunities for users.


When NavigationArts, a partner of Sitecore, began its engagement with the Advisory Board in the spring of 2010, the company was struggling with two disparate websites, the public facing site and the membership only log in site. The public website was a hand-coded site with no search functionality and unfocused brand architecture. The member’s only website consisted of constituents paying for access to the Advisory Board’s extensive collection of research, tools, and resources. This membership-only site operated on a bulky, inflexible content management system, with modest search functionality. The site also locked most content in PDFs and limited members’ ability to effectively use and share the information they were paying for. In the user research NavigationArts conducted, a common member response was that while ABC’s content was unmatched in quality, poor user experience deterred members from accessing the site on a more regular basis.

The legacy website focused almost exclusively on one element of the Advisory Board’s business, limiting members’ views into the firm’s impressive growth in scope of capabilities.

Finally, because all of the firm’s content was locked behind a firewall, the Advisory Board’s web presence underperformed from a search engine perspective, obscuring the firm’s visibility to job seekers, journalists, and prospective members.


The Advisory Board redesign was a project of massive scale that involved the migration of huge amounts of content from static PDF documents into dynamic HTML pages. This content needed to be shareable on the member site but also “preview-able” on the public site, meaning that parts of the content could be promoted without having a membership.

The strategies ABC used to generate interest in the firm were exposing the existence of exclusive content, and sharing a subset of high-value content with the public. Sitecore was chosen because it allowed for a seamless transition between the public site and the member site. The Advisory Board is constantly publishing materials and updating research, the company needed a CMS that could be maintained by non-technical staff. Sitecore was also an excellent option for the Advisory Board because it correlates well with third party applications that were fundamental to the redesign. Sitecore integrates well with Coveo Enterprise Search and the two systems together create a robust structure for the firm’s public and member websites.

The Advisory Board’s website redesign effort was a complete rebranding. The significant design includes modern stylized, vertical architecture, and a new company logo. Within the member-only site, content is focused on what subscriptions the user has. Once logged in, the user has full access to content within his/her membership portfolio but sees only previews of content that is outside the portfolio. Members also can customize views of certain pages and can control various elements of their accounts, including event management, newsletter subscriptions, and saved searches.


Using Sitecore’s Web Content Management System (CMS) and integration of 3rd party applications, the Advisory Board now has a platform for communications and marketing that exposes Advisory Board members to the wealth of resources at their disposal, thereby driving greater utilization and business success. The redesign of the website and CMS supports the firm’s aspirations for growth in membership base, capabilities, and impact.

Technical Description

Solution Special Ingredients:

  • Coveo
  • Paywall
  • Lyris
  • Webtrends Analytics Software