Everyone ready to enjoy to the relaxing sounds of cicadas? I am! What better way to thank Spring and usher in Summer? And why not celebrate the moment too with a few great website launches. Here’s the April round-up of the latest school website launches from Finalsite.
Profiles and silhouettes of birds are nothing unusual in school logos, but one soaring over a mountain range that’s crisply defined and full of action is worth checking out. That’s the corner anchor for the new website for TAISM, a homepage that teases out the “wow” factor gradually, as you scroll, like a well-kept topiary garden.
Sensibly, the opening decision for users is just to navigate to a division, where the site can then guide them through the uniquenesses and qualities that set the School apart. But for those visitors orienting to this international school, the second panel, “Destination Oman” is strategically placed to make the case for learning in a very unique corner of the world.
There’s a cool interactive panel next that outlines the school’s distinctions deploying some technical acrobatics to help cleverly page through. A nice implementation of Finalsite Feeds for their social media follows, with very accessible and inviting news items, enhanced by excellent thumbnails.
Worth a peek: the community page, one of those abstract, nuanced ideas that is hard to convey with pixels and stills, but always an achievement when done well like this one.
CAIS Boarding Schools | Canada
When you peruse the handful of hero images on the new CAIS Boarding Schools website, you get a clear sense of diversity among students. But there’s a lot more this association has to say, including a strong case for Why Canada and of course for Boarding in general.
An awesome school directory is worth the click for filtering and isolating the right school for the right family, complete with an impressive grid of school emblems and profiles. Speaking of which, profiles like Appleby College make for a perfect resource for parents sorting through an incredibly important decision, with key facts, pictures, contact information and the like.
The array of great school offerings is like an all-you-can-eat educational buffet of school choice at a 3-star Michelin restaurant. Enabling all this content is a design that’s easy on the eyes, filled with light pastels with the artistic quality of a water color, and touches of red that buoy the typography and graphic touches just enough to focus your eye. Finally, as footers go, this one finishes the site well - three columns of links, a big #experiencemore hashtag, and the logo all laid out on passive shades of black.
Covenant Day School | North Carolina
What works well about Covenant Day School’s new website is the fact that at every turn (or click, or swipe), you find pages that are all rock solid. Take the homepage, for instance. Solid video with strong subsequent hero images, followed by panels doing the right job - community life, news, social media and testimonials. Combined, these provide a clear sense of who the school is and what they bring to the prospective family.
But it’s what's on the interior that really makes this site shine. Within the admissions area, for instance, the Admissions Hub and Admissions Process maximize Composer’s layout options, elements and structured mark-up to create consistently-designed, intuitive and complete plages. Elsewhere, areas like Restoration and Sustainability, College Counseling and the Dining Program are equally well developed, but gems abound -- notably the Student Art Gallery is a third-tier page that leverages the Resources module to showcase student work, a simple way to emphasize the value of the education here.
TASIS Summer Programs | Switzerland, England & Portugal
It’s summer! Well, not quite, but almost.
And during the pandemic-isn’t-over-but-we-all-wish-it-were Spring, summer programs are gearing up. The latest summer programs website launch from TASIS is a great example of how to promote your programs — which, for many schools, is the second-most important revenue driver for their school.
Everything you need is largely on the homepage, including the actual offerings. Further down the page, the filtering, searching and tagging capabilities are worth checking out — this is a great example of how flexible Finalsite Posts is with publishing content and images into reusable formats that can be easily maintained but also categorized, searched and grouped. In fact, this entire microsite happens within the same instance of Composer, Finalsite’s CMS, allowing TASIS the ability to re-use and maintain content it creates not only within the summer programs site, but elsewhere on its school sites. This broad site management capability is a huge time saver, not to mention a powerful way to leverage assets that are already in place.
Lake Mary Preparatory School | Florida
There are a lot of hands in the high-quality opening video for Lake Mary Prep: hands moving the bow of a violin; hands rolling out an answer; hands emphasizing a point; hands in a team rally; hands swiping; hands directing athletes. In a global pandemic, and with the unbearable predicament (for school marketers at least) of the website being a central tool for prospective parents while also selecting pictures that only have kids with masks, everything else becomes that much more important. In this case, the hands of this school community project learning and a community in action. And that’s just the opening sequence, as this is a best-in-class homepage with a lot to say, a vertical storytelling cinematic movie of a website.
Big headers frame each panel, less of a shout from the rooftop, and more a helpful role, like a principal keeping an eye on the playground. Animated blocks of color and type are small moments of surprise, bringing the panels to life, and the social media feed, tucked into three columns of activity, are the right way to share “Life at LMP”.
Cor Jesu Academy | Missouri
It occurred to me, just now, opening up the new Cor Jesu Academy website for the first time, how rarely — if ever — a school’s name isn’t perpendicular to the margin and running on a straight line. Not so here, where the name almost feels as if someone stamped it from above, a slight twist off the right angle that points to a heart aglow, a sunshine of life. This playful touch of originality leans into the homepage pictures of young women who seem to share that same spirit of individuality and community.
The design picks up the precarious shade of red known as “pink” in a way that is appropriate and suited for the layout. Panels below are clean and continue to leverage white space and variable type to make the content inviting and easy on the eye, the corners occasionally flanked by semi-circles of red rays that harken back to the logo. It’s fun to toggle through the testimonials across every constituent group, a simple indicator that the school makes the grade no matter what the relationship is to the school.
The Admissions landing page is worth checking out as a good example of layout, content, calls-to-action and imagery, not to mention that behind the scenes, administrators can easily tweak and update everything through Finalsite’s CMS, Composer.
American Overseas School of Rome | Italy
“Where Opportunity is Infinite”. Now that’s a bold statement, and one of many that sequence alongside picture-perfect hero images, including one at the end of a parent scooping popcorn from the classic carnival popcorn maker, “Where Community Is Family.”
AOSR’s new website doesn’t end with just those strong bundles of messages and pictures, but keeps extending the edges of cool through all sorts of design flourishes and a handful of digital gadgets, such as an animated arrow that sort of nudges you down the page to look closer. The criss-crossing, overlapping blocks of color layer the design in a way that is interesting but not distracting, and is reminiscent of school-age game cards that kept us all entertained. The colors are big, in brightness and amount, and that just seems to correspond to the intent of the entire site: big and bold. Some really nice practical pages stand out, too, such as the Bus Service page, which fills the page with helpful content, or the Leadership Team, which takes advantage of professional-grade profile pics in a colorful layout.
Ermitage International School | France
Who wouldn’t want to live and learn in an historic French home just outside of Paris? That’s not a bad place to start if you’re a prospective student considering Ermitage International School, whose new website tells an energetic story about a school with nearly 1300 students offering both an IB curriculum and a French bilingual program, with 70 languages spoken across 35 nationalities. Many schools long for diversity with numbers like that. This is also a place to “Engage, Prospect and Succeed”, an ambitious mandate made possible through 80 years of excellence, readily apparent as the site conveys its rich academic curriculum and student life programs.
The site’s design doesn’t try to break every boundary, but instead captures the school through a nice combination of simple devices, like a carousel of “Ermitage Stories” and a nice video covering the school’s philosophy. The interior is well-developed -- pages like The Arts and Boarding serve their purpose well, mixing the right content, images and video to keep the user tapping, scrolling and clicking for more.
Finalsite’s theme website designs make it easy for schools and districts to launch beautiful, mobile-friendly websites on tight timelines or budgets.
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.