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Finalsite Theme Designs: An Affordable Way to Go Mobile-Friendly, Fast
Mia Major

If you're familiar with the term "responsive design," but your school's website is still fixed-width, in many cases it is due to budget.

However, budget should not be a deciding factor as to whether or not your school's website provides an optimal viewing experience for prospective and current families. In light of Mobilegeddon, last year's mobile-friendly-favoring algorithm update, and Google's recent announcement to boost the effects of last year's update, its safe to say that the digital world increasingly expects your school to have a responsive website.

Here are a few quick stats to explain why:

  • Finalsite websites see an average of 50% of website traffic coming from mobile devices.
  • If you offer a poor mobile experience, there's a 61% chance that a website visitor will leave and head to a competitor's website.
  • When you offer a positive mobile experience, your user is 67% more likely to inquire or apply.

We made it our goal to make responsive designs that work equally well on phones, desktops and tablets available to all schools, despite budget or timeline with new, Theme designs.

Jupiter Christian and Aspen Academy Themes

{Theme sites on mobile.}

Amy Rush, Director of Communications and Marketing at Chesterfield Day School, took note of these trends and opted for a Theme website to adhere to these digital changes quickly and effectively:

"With almost 70% of our parents accessing us via phone or tablet, responsive design is a critical must-have. Our template combined with Composer gives us the results we need and want."

What is a Theme?

Finalsite Themes are pre-built custom designs that make it easy and affordable to have a responsive website that looks and works great! Themes are great for schools who are more focused on going responsive on a budget, than building a completely custom design.

"We couldn't afford to have a new site designed totally from scratch," said Lynn Wells, Director of Advancement at International School of Kenya. "We decided that if we liked one of the design templates, that would give us an affordable option. The design we selected was the most dynamic, pleasing to the eye and offered us a template that incorporated the key elements we were looking for."

IS Kenya Theme

Now, why should your school choose a theme?

1. They offer affordability without sacrificing design quality.

Responsive design? Check. Panel design? Check. Hover effects? Check.

Our design team boasts more than 60 design awards...and counting. So we asked them to put their heads together to come up with themed websites that implement best practices and trends.

"Finalsites's Theme design seem to incorporate all of the elements that we would have included in a custom design and you worked with us to optimize the look and functionality," said Lara Knuettel, Director of Advancement at Aspen Academy.

Theme designs make it simple for schools to have great looking websites, but don't have the budget, time, or even patience, to build a completely custom design. When you choose a Theme design, you'll work with a designer to swap out colors, fonts, and your school's logo.

With more than 20 Themes to choose from, you're bound to find one that best represents your school's brand, and meets all your needs!

"Thanks to responsive design capabilities, we are now able to bring our school to life much more vibrantly than before — and much more effectively, too, given that our site now looks beautiful across all devices," said Amy from Chesterfield Day School.

Chesterfield Day Homepage

2. They're super simple to manage.

Each Theme website is built and managed on Composer, our easy-to-use, WYSIWYG Content Management System (CMS). With time-saving features like a drag-and-drop interface, copy-and-paste, and shared elements, you'll find that anyone can build beautiful new pages from scratch in just minutes—with no coding ability required.

"Composer is intuitive and easy to use," said Lynn from IS Kenya. "This was important to us because we have several people responsible for different sections of the site. Their ability to start using the editing tools quickly and effectively was critical."

Teachers, principals and staff can all update pages with little training, making it simple to keep your awesome new site up-to-date.

"My favorite thing about Composer is the 'immediate gratification' it affords me when editing," said Amy from Chesterfield Day School. "I can see exactly what my page will look like, and the editing tools function intuitively — all allowing for much more efficient design and editing work."

In addition to Composer's easy-to-use interface, you'll still have access to all the same modules you already use — like Calendar Manager and News Manager — however, implementing them on your site is even easier. "Composer is easy to use and navigate, I love that the calendar synchs with parent's calendars," said Lara from Aspen Country Day.

Aspen Academy Home

3. You can be live in as little as 14 days.

In a rush? Have all your ducks in a row? Realistically, you can be live in as little as a week. For schools who need to spend a little more time getting photos and new text content together, the average launch time is about 30 days — making a new Theme site the perfect summer project for your school.

4. We'll help you migrate content.

As we like to say here at Finalsite, teamwork makes the dream work. If you're working on your redesign solo, are in a rush to meet a deadline, or simply need a helping hand, we'll help you move content from your old site to your new one.

5. You'll have a responsive website your admins, families, and prospective families will love.

Susan Cain at The Sterne School has had tons of success with the school's new theme and Composer:

"With our new website, and enhanced features and tools that come with it we can highlight important/critical information using pop-ups and calls-to-action; organize content and photos in a way that better engages our users using tabs, columns, news manager, media gallery, social media mashup pages; and bring a number of previously outsourced data/software systems onto the constituent and LMS manager, so we can increase efficiencies and minimize constituent data errors," she said.

The Sterne School Responsive Design

Lara from Aspen Academy agrees that a Theme was the perfect solution for her community:

"We have so much more flexibility now with pictures, calendars and forms. Our parents have given us great feedback and love the ease of the website. Prospective parents tell us it tells a great story and speaks to who we are," she said.

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