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May School Website Launch Round-Up
Angelo Otterbein

I have long believed that May is a great time to launch a website. For one, it means you can have (a lot more of) your summer back instead of it being consumed with a sprawling project that often requires getting the attention of colleagues who may be checked out for weeks on end. Second, you can collect feedback in a trickle rather than a gush, providing you with time to tweak and update without the added pressure of back-to-school. Third, and related, traffic is low, so anything you didn’t quite finish exactly as you hoped may not get noticed anyway while you button things up. And in light of everything happening in the world, an even louder congratulations to these schools who pulled it off! 

And for those wishing they had, it’s only June! Stay focused and try to finish what you can before July becomes August. In the meantime, we are all here thinking about you as you finish school and plod through the ebbs and flows of the coronavirus. Find comfort in the focus and constraints of building and managing a great website that people can use whenever they want. Take advantage of our digital campus resources and call us if you just want to chat.

Is Your Website Ready for 2020+? Build your school's digital campus today.

Custom Website Launches from May

The Summit Country Day School | Ohio

On first pass, the intentional symmetry of the design — with the logo and headers for each homepage panel centered — works well, but the additional visual complexity introduced by the triangular shapes and slightly transparent shield elevates the design for this independent day school in Cincinnati founded over a century ago

Summit Country Day School homepage

The mega-navigation helps the user with a “You May Also Like” prompt, nudging the user to explore areas they may not have intended but which the school believes are no less important. 

The academics area provides prospective families with an interactive approach to understanding what makes Summit unique, with “read more” overlays that further describe the school’s philosophy on spiritual life, character education, academics and physical and social-emotional wellness.

Summit Country Day School Academics

Legacy Early College | South Carolina

This is hands down one of the best charter school websites out there. The soft golden overlay for the video, which is also contained in a narrow white border, allows the deeper yellow lion in the logo to stand apart. Meanwhile, the large calls to action on the right of the homepage feel less like buttons and more like entryways to a path and the mega navigation, combined with a clear bilingual option in Spanish, is all the design needs to get people around. 

Legacy Early College homepage

As you scroll, “Pride” becomes an interactive experience, a clever acronym for the school’s values and which plays out in various student testimonials within the interior.

The “Why We’re Different” panel on the homepage spells the answer out clearer, particularly with “To and Through College” which is an interesting approach to what they mean by outcomes. The interior is not left to the wayside: the Schools landing page has nice details, but even pages like Health and Nutrition are excellent examples of a nice layout combined with a strong design sensibility.

Whitgift | United Kingdom

The stately typography of the Whitgift logo is what headlines this new launch for the independent day and boarding school in the UK, but it’s the slightly transparent feather that earns the attention, floating passively down the page, pulling your eye toward its bold declaration: “Transforming boys’ lives through education.”

Whitgift School Homepage screenshot

Naturally, the site builds on this statement, telling a story as you scroll with beautifully designed portraits and testimonials; news and events that are warmed up with a palette of pastels, and infographics that use an understated but no less colorful mix of blocks and typeset numbers that come together like a piece of art. 

The footer is a case study in excellent layout: maximizing the space, conveying critical information, all while making it easy to parse and understand. 

The interior also delivers. The history page show dates and milestones interactively, while the parent landing page puts everything in one organized place. And the “I am Whitgift” could win its own award for how to apply text, silhouettes and color into a dynamic, vibrant montage of a talented, diverse school community.

I am Whitgift page

ICS London and ICS Paris

This pair of schools in London and Paris were able to leverage a fresh custom design from Finalsite for both sites, saving time and money. The bright interlocking bands that form the logo and the common treatment of the header tie the school websites together, but each instance can be managed separately allowing for administrators to treat their navigation and all content uniquely.

ICS London P2

The infographics panel serves as a good example: a common graphic treatment with completely different facts to highlight. Likewise, further down the homepage, ICS Paris uses two rows of images to guide users into an academic division, share the Parisian experience or learn more about their STEAM program; ICS London, on the other hand, uses one row of images, one for each division. Yet in both cases the design is flexible enough to handle these variations, easily updated in the content management system, Composer

Even the utility navigation is slightly nuanced regionally: London’s features a “Call Us” and “Book a Visit” links, whereas for Paris it’s “Call the Admissions Team” and “Admissions Enquiry.” These subtleties are difficult to pick up without a companion website to look at, but they can make all the difference in tailoring the experience for their target audience.

CCIS - Cleveland Association of Independent Schools | OH

What’s nice about how this independent school association website features its member schools with big campus shots and student scenes is the clear sense of choice that Cleveland and the surrounding area has to offer prospective families searching for the right fit school. The site also practical, with a robust calendar of events, a short and sweet — but no less very current — jobs area,  and useful tools for admissions and perusing the directory. Leveraging one of Finalsite’s pre-built custom designed themes allows CCIS to quickly deploy and at an affordable price point.

CCIS - Cleveland Association of Independent Schools Homepage Theme Bozrah

Theme Website Launches from May 

Finalsite’s Theme websites provide an affordable solution for schools wishing to upgrade their website — and quickly. The average theme website can be up and running in just a couple of weeks — ensuring schools and districts can launch time and within budget.

Yoyogi International School | Tokyo, Japan

The New Britain theme on this international school website keeps it simple with its “Start Now” call to action just below the hero images. Simple navigation and just a handful of options makes the website easy to manage and explore.

Owatonna Public Schools | MN

Our popular Madison theme is filled with snow in the hero image of this website, as the district builds anticipation for the opening of a new school, an exciting event! 

Ramalynn Academy | MN

This implementation of the Avon theme holds the burgundy and blue/grays nicely, with a comfortable spot for its mission, quick blocks for the divisions, a nice horizontal calendar of events and programmatic highlights at the bottom -- everything a homepage needs.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angelo graduated valedictorian from St. Paul's School in Baltimore, MD and from Princeton University. Despite getting his degree in creative writing and English Literature, it generally takes some doing to keep him from programming and breaking websites. Just after graduating, he started Silverpoint, and grew it to over 300 schools worldwide before merging with Finalsite in 2013.

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