Viewpoint School

CO-ED, INDEPENDENT DAY SCHOOL | CALABASAS, CALIFORNIA | 1,200 STUDENTS

Viewpoint School Homepage on laptop and mobile device

 

“My aim was to not be a school in Southern California, but a school in the world.” 

- Verity Paton | Digital marketing & communications manager

When preparing to launch their new website, Viewpoint School turned to the world for inspiration. 

That was the approach Digital Marketing and Communications Manager Verity Paton and her team took when implementing their Best-in-Class (Finalsite's top custom design package) website redesign with Finalsite. Verity wanted a new site that would capture the attention of families not just from the surrounding area, but also welcome a larger, international audience. “I looked at a lot of different schools from around the world and all around the country,” Verity said. “My aim was to not be a school in Southern California, but a school in the world.” 

Viewpoint’s new site has certainly made an impression. In fact, we liked it so much that it made our list of the Best Independent School Websites of 2020

But what prompted the school’s website redesign and how did Verity approach the launch?

Catalyst for Change

Going up against the competitive Los Angeles Independent School market, Verity knew their school needed a more dynamic site with better options for compelling storytelling. “You want to be something different; you want to be something new.” Verity chose Finalsite not just for the ease of updating content, but also for Finalsite’s integration with Blackbaud, an important consideration that would allow Viewpoint to retain the data and processes of their school’s SIS (Student Information System). 

Blackbaud and Finalsite

Viewpoint chose to leverage their back-end user data with Finalsite’s modules and Best-in-Class web design. Finalsite’s partnership with Blackbaud, and the integration between the two systems, is allowing the school to tap into their athletic, constituent, and calendar data to power areas of content within the site. Automatic data syncs between the two systems means no redundant manual data entries and more accurate, up-to-date records. “There are so many data points to a website and how you're able to use it all,” Verity explained, adding that using the content in a smart way can make all the difference in the world. 

For Verity, that strategy is evident in their use of Messages, Finalsite’s email marketing platform, to create dynamic email lists, and easily pull content from their site to populate sections of email with calendar updates and campus news within a mobile-friendly design.

Verity recalled getting feedback about how the school’s previous email system wasn’t mobile-friendly, which posted an accessibility issue. “Messages are just so simple and easy. I'm an organized person, so I like how organized they look on the screen. Finalsite sets you up for success. It doesn't necessarily make you work very hard.”

Another Member of the Admission Office...

Verity had attended a number of virtual workshops and webinars the summer prior to launch to inspire the look, feel, and functionality of the site. Meeting with different constituents to brainstorm the direction of the new site and collect ideas was a key to success, said Verity, who partnered with the admission team from the very start.

Their main request? Make the site act as if it was another member of the admission office. 

“I did focus groups with trustees, parents, faculty and staff, and families,” Verity explained. “I got the kids on Zoom at the same time as their parents, and I just had all these Google Sheets full of notes ready to go.” 

“I was a sponge and I just took everything in,” she said. “I went through a lot of the Finalsite portfolios. I sent examples straight to our designer and I would explain, ‘this is what I want, with a touch of this, and a touch of that. Thankfully, Finalsite has so many resources.”

Viewpoint has seen an increase in out-of-state applications from families with plans to move into the L.A. area. The website has been able to show off our campus remotely, “which I’m sure has appealed to a lot of families, who due to the circumstances are unable to visit campus” Verity noted. “It's always a work in progress and there will always be things that need to continue to be worked on. Admissions loves it though, they are all over it.”

Notable Design Features

Interactive Campus Map

One of the highlights of the site is the interactive campus map, which allows visitors to better experience Viewpoint’s campus with just a few clicks. The campus map opens up a whole new option for international students to explore their school. 

Viewpoint School Interactive Campus Map


With Covid restrictions in place, the value of the feature has never been more apparent. 
“It sets them up—people can take themselves on a tour before they've even talked to the admission office. They can definitely experience the campus for what it is,” Verity said, adding that current families and students have been using the interactive map to show their school to family in their home countries.

Summer Programs Microsite

Summer at Viewpoint School

 

Viewpoint School has another reason to celebrate—the recent launch of their Summer at Viewpoint microsite bursts through the dreary winter days and has us longing for fun in the California sunshine. A drone shot leads viewers into a summer camp full of excitement, dancing campers, and splashes of color, all set against the backdrop of a beautiful California campus. Integrated social posts, recent campus news, and highlights from their summer program populate the landing page and introduce us to all the summer fun that lies ahead.

Reception

Since their launch, the reaction to the new site has been overwhelmingly positive. Amid a time of uncertainty, this was one change that the school community welcomed with open arms. Families, trustees, faculty, and even students have weighed in on the upgrade. “As one of the children said, he's proud to show his friends where he goes to school now,” Verity shared.

Key Takeaway

Preparation was a major key in Viewpoint’s successful launch, Verity recognizes. Having looked at so many examples of websites throughout the country and the world, the inspiration for how the new site would tell Viewpoint’s story came from all corners of the globe. “Do your research. Then, get feedback on your research,” Verity suggested, adding that the community of faculty, staff, students, and families is what really makes a school. “The buildings can only do so much— you need to amplify your colleagues at the end of the day, it's the people inside that really count.”

About Viewpoint School

Founded in 1961, Viewpoint School is a co-ed, independent day school in Calabasas, California, educating students in kindergarten through 12th grade. With about 1,200 students, Viewpoint is one of the largest schools in the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS).

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