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  • UK Independent Schools
Fit for a King - The Felsted School Website Case Study
Jessica Hart

Felsted School has a clear vision of its future, and where it is headed. An independent co-educational day and boarding school in Essex, it is steeped in history, and was founded in 1564 by Richard Rich, (one of Henry VIII’s most powerful and infamous nobles) yet it has a very forward thinking approach to its marketing. The school’s strategy is driven by Sophy Walker, Director of Marketing, ably assisted by Jack Dougherty, who as Website Communications Officer curates much of the digital content delivered by the school.

The team felt that it was time to update their website, as it had ‘become a bit of a monster’, with a vast amount of content, some of which was duplicated. Jack went on to explain that the purpose of the project was to support their strategy which had been to position Felsted as one school, (rather than as separate prep, senior and Sixth Form); in order to do this they required a cohesive, refined website which would showcase their offering for children from ages 4-18.

Felsted school homepage screenshot displayed in iphone and laptop

The work was tendered to a number of suppliers, but Finalsite won the bid. Jack was particularly "…impressed with the technology and expertise that they brought to the table. I also liked that the additional modules they offer in addition to the website are not third party products, they are designed and developed in-house, which is always reassuring". Sophy seconded this, and explained that other companies just couldn’t compete. ‘They simply did not offer both the gravitas and capability that Finalsite deliver’.  Another feature which put them ahead was the additional modules that could be bolted on at a later date.  
"These were attractive, and we felt that we were future-proofing our investment by selecting Finalsite". Sophy only cited a slight concern by choosing to work with a market leader, which was "that the originality and creativity might be lost, but actually that just wasn’t the case, our experience was that they worked with us to create something that was unique to us". In fact shortly after launch, the Felsted school website won a platinum award (the highest award achievable) in the internationally acclaimed dotComm awards!

Due to their extensive rebrand, Felsted began the design process armed with their brand guidelines and with a razor sharp vision of what they wanted to communicate. However, Jack explained that ‘Finalsite did challenge us on our design ideas, and they steered us in the right direction and used their expertise to create a site which supported the school’s look and feel, but stood out from the competition’.

As a previous user of School Website’s Fluency content management system, Jack explained that the move to Finalsite’s Composer CMS was seamless. "The real improvements have been that you can simply do more with the website, you can change layouts and test different options easily.  In the past many pages would be hard coded, so you would have to formally request changes to be made. With Composer I can change things myself; there are lots more features too, which has opened the doors for us to be more creative."


Results so far look extremely positive: bounce rates are down and conversions are up, and feedback from the school community has been very encouraging, with many citing it easier to navigate and locate content quickly and easily.  The website is proving its worth in supporting the rest of the school’s marketing activity. It is helping both current parents and students find information as well as generating enquiries and new admissions. The website has become the hub that all their digital marketing drives to, as it has become "our core channel, it’s at the centre of all we do, it’s such an integrated part of both the school and our work".

The team at Felsted don’t plan to stop there, their next step is to extend their use of personalised landing pages which support their digital campaigns, and create new layouts which can be further tested to optimise, test and measure response.  Composer’s ability to clone and test content really comes into its own here.  The ease of which this can be achieved has been a real bonus.

Sophy has been both impressed and reassured that she had made the right decision in selecting Finalsite, because of the ongoing support provided to them.  "Finalsite U and the regular workshops you can attend really help us develop our marketing and practice. They are complete experts and happy to share their knowledge and ideas with us. They keep us up to date with every new development."  This level of support is vital to school marketers, who often work in small teams and need to be marketing generalists and simply cannot be experts in every field. Sophy explained that ‘Finalsite are one of our top partners. They are so helpful –they’ve become part of the family. They feel like an extension of our marketing team.’

Felsted has been shortlisted for three categories in the 2019 TES Independent School Awards, including Marketing Campaign of the Year. The team at Finalsite are keeping their fingers crossed for another win for Felsted! 

Update February 2020:  Congratulations for being shortlisted for TES Independent School Awards 2020, Boarding School of the Year!

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Jessica Cotton

A highly skilled marketer, Jessica has a wealth of experience gained within the telecoms IT, and healthcare sectors, and has worked within education since 2012. An expert in both traditional and digital marketing, she utilises her extensive marketing knowledge to help companies create strategies and campaigns which make them stand out from the crowd; driving awareness, engagement and sales. 

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