What does it take to have an award-winning site? It takes, of course, a brilliant combination of design, information architecture, navigation, and content. Not so easy. According to our design team, the Vega Digital Awards in particular pose some of the toughest competition in the web design space, as the competition confers worldwide recognition on winners' work. William Penn Charter School's new Capital Campaign Microsite was one of the few and worthy to be recognized in the 2017 Vega Awards this fall.
Sharon Sexton, Director of Marketing Communications at William Penn Charter School, shared their process of creating the microsite for the school campaign, along with unique ways they are using Finalsite tools and other marketing efforts to promote the campaign.
A Microsite with a Big Impact
The How Far? Campaign launched publicly on October 20, 2017, but has been in the works since 2013. Aside from the fundraising goal, the campaign offers an opportunity to re-educate the community about the school and what distinguishes it from others. "This was something important I learned in the early 2000s from our previous school campaign," said Sharon. "We saw that, as we brought people together around the campaign, it reignited passion for the school. It also clarified for new parents what distinguishes the school."
The How Far? campaign initiatives support goals of a Strategic Vision approved in 2013 to advance the school's educational program and campus master plan. And the messaging for the campaign evokes the 328-year history of Penn Charter, which was established in 1689 from a charter written by William Penn.
With so much history, content, and purpose, a microsite was the perfect fit. A microsite is an individual website that acts as a separate entity for a school, and is common for athletics, capital campaigns, advancement goals, and more. A microsite gave William Penn Charter School an entirely new space to share information and news, and receive donations.
While the school's main website is on Page Manager (Finalsite's previous CMS) the microsite was built on Composer — Finalsite's new(er) CMS, released in 2015. Sharon shared that some of the advantages of using Composer for the microsite included its ease of use, updated look, better presentation of news and video, and interactive use of the modules being more efficient in the backend of Composer. The microsite also pulls in all relevant content for the campaign through custom landing pages like their "Spaces" and "We See" pages and drives people directly to the facts, as Sharon said.
Nathan Lyttle, Senior UI/Visual Designer at Finalsite, also shared it was a fun project for him to be part of. "William Penn Charter School came to us with their campaign branding and believed in our expertise to take it and create an online experience that feels exciting and unique," said Nathan. "I was happy to go above and beyond to make this one stand out."
The microsite is a Best-in-Class design — our top design package — and the site is filled with pleasant animations and enhancements. Some of the sites most interesting design enhancements include:
An infographic that maps the progress of the school's campaign on the homepage. The infographic can easily be updated on the back-end of Composer using a user-friendly table. The table automatically outputs this engaging chart — pretty cool!
An interactive timeline that lets you explore the history, progress and future of the campaign on the "Spaces" landing page.
An extremely innovative use of Finalsite Posts.
Finalsite Posts allows schools to share content like blogs, news, spotlight stories, etc. — and Penn Charter to share stories about donors and the impact of their gifts. "We retrieved pieces of content we had already written during the leadership phase of the campaign and re-purposed them as posts," said Sharon. "We've organized them by certain tags such as donor stories and donor impact. These stories have helped us communicate about the tremendous progress we've made during the quiet, leadership phase of the campaign."
Individuals can thus select stories based on specific tags related to the campaign, or search keywords to find a story they may be interested in.
See what Finalsite Posts is all about in this free webinar on-demand.
Additional Marketing Efforts
More and more private schools are now turning to video to help share their school story in a new way on their website, social media, and more. On the microsite's "We See" page, PC people - AKA members of the Penn Charter community - share their stories about how the school has made an impact on their lives and careers.
All of the printed marketing materials Penn Charter developed, with the Atlanta-based firm Crane, point readers to the microsite. "After the public opening, we put out a series of communications to targeted audiences, including parents, and alumni, with the link to the website," said Sharon.
Finally, they are encouraging engagement and conversation on social media with a branded hashtag behind the campaign, #howfar. The hashtag is seen throughout the school's social media accounts even recently to keep the interest on the campaign alive and exciting:
They are also incorporating some of the video testimonials from the "We See" page right in their social media posts as well:
Overall, the additional marketing efforts act as a good supplement to the microsite. Everything comes together nicely on the microsite since there is so much related to the campaign the school wants to share with individuals online. The site not only deserves its award-winning status, but sets the bar high for what a school campaign's microsite should accomplish.
How do your marketing strategies compare? Want to be on our Featured Friday blogs? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your success with social media, the Finalsite platform, admissions, crowdfunding, or content marketing!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephanie brings a fresh new marketing perspective with her background in social media, communications, and radio broadcasting. She is a co-producer for the FinalsiteFM podcast network and is passionate about helping schools stay ahead of their marketing goals by tracking new trends and developments. She is also a practicing singer/songwriter and loves to expand her creativity in DIY projects.