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Sarah Gordon, Assistant Director of Communications
Choate Rosemary Hall

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Sarah Gordon, Assistant Director of Communications
Choate Rosemary Hall
  • General Best Practices
  • Higher Education
  • Independent Schools
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  • Public School District
How to Execute Best-in-Class Web Design Trends on a Budget
Julianne Hamilton

In a recent webinar, Kealan Duffy, our UK Production Manager, and I identified the 5 big design trends for 2018:

  1. Mobile First
  2. More Varied Layouts – including more open compositions, asymmetrical balance, overlapping shapes, and less obvious grids
  3. Moving Beyond the Hero Slideshow
  4. Purposeful Motion
  5. Personalized Content

BIC Design Trends

While some of the strongest examples of these trends were found in totally custom and in many cases, Best In Class designs, there are great ways to apply these trends if you're redesigning on a budget or just looking to breathe fresh life into an existing design.

1. Mobile First

No matter your redesign budget, a responsive, mobile-friendly site is a must. The good news is that this trend is not budget-dependent. All of Finalsite's redesign options, including all of our themes, include beautiful mobile versions. So, assuming you already have, or will have, a mobile site how can you improve the mobile experience? Reimagine your content by reducing your copy, adding images and videos, and including clear call to action links and buttons. Look at your pages on the phone. Do you really want to read all of that text? Can you show rather than tell this concept through a video?

Discover Why Your School Needs a Responsive Website here!

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2. More Varied Layouts

It used to be that we needed to stick with a few patterns to ensure our designs broke down elegantly on mobile. But, new advances in web coding allow designers to incorporate higher levels of variety into responsive web design. We can do a lot of things now that used to be reserved for print designs. The most dramatic examples come into play in new homepage designs, such as Royal Hospital School, Penn Charter's Campaign, and Choate. However, there are a number of ways you can bring variety into your existing site's interior pages right now. If you're using Composer, Finalsite's CMS, you have a number of tools at your disposal. Try including a 2 and 3-column layouts and placing images side-by-side to break up your page design like Greenwich Country Day School or Thayer do here.

Layouts Example

3. Moving Beyond the Hero Slideshow

The key points behind this trend is that users don't spend as much time viewing rotating slideshows as we imagine and that we should use the entire page to tell a school's story. A new design of at any budget can include this concept. Consider that main takeaways of your homepage (or any page) and be sure they're not buried. Ask yourself, can a user quickly scroll down this page and come away knowing the 2 or 3 most important aspects? If not, rearrange your content to make it front and center.

4. Purposeful Motion

Motion is the texture of modern web design. While some of the most sophisticated examples shown during the webinar, such as Westminster, require custom development to implement, everyone can enjoy the benefits of embedded video. Add a youtube feed to your student life page or display your overview video in the sidebar of your admissions section to engage your audience and bring your pages to life.

5. Personalized Content

Personalization is about bringing content to the right visitor at the right time. Schools such as Vanguard University and Dubai College have centered their homepage designs around this concept, but everyone can make their site more user-centered. Offer your viewer options to access the content they are looking for. For example, you could break academics or student life content down by grade level and divide it into tabs or accordions. You can also consider using categories to automatically feed relevant news stories onto their respective pages like Sidwell Friends and Hotchkiss do.

BIC Personalized Content

2018 Design Trends to Watch


Julianne Hamilton

As a Senior Designer at Finalsite, Julianne partners with clients to create beautiful, user-centered websites. She is an avid traveler and spent a year teaching English in Japan — which explains why storytelling vibrancy are at the heart of her work. Julianne invites you to suggest an on-site design session with her – especially if your school is located in Hawaii, Alaska, or anywhere overseas.

  • Web Design
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