The Kessler School
Cynthia Griggs joined The Kessler School ready to hit the ground running.
As the school’s advancement manager, Griggs’ involvement within marketing, public relations and development include a long list of daily responsibilities. New to the role, she's committed herself to the community, its students, and several important initiatives, including a redesign of Kessler’s website.
“I felt that Finalsite was the solution to jump-starting my role here,” Griggs shared, adding that the recent launch of The Kessler School’s new website has been instrumental in not only her early success, but also in supporting the school’s daily operations while it prepares to relocate to a new campus.
The Kessler School is located in the hills of Kessler Park, just minutes from downtown Dallas. A well-rounded curriculum focuses on a child-centered philosophy tailored to each individual.
With highlights that include daily Spanish instruction, STEM and literacy labs, one-to-one computer technology in 5th & 6th Grade, Kessler is passionate about a life long commitment to learning.
The Kessler School, a growing co-ed independent school near downtown Dallas serving students in Pre-K—Grade 8, is a close-knit community that values individuality, respect for others, and a lifelong commitment to learning. While those virtues were shared by the community, the qualities of the school weren’t shining through their former website, which made finding a new web platform a top priority when Griggs accepted her new role.
A New Home
When the pandemic hit, the reliance on Kessler’s digital campus became that much more apparent. As COVID safety precautions prevented families from visiting campus in-person, the school’s ability to connect with families became a priority as their former site struggled to showcase the campus and highlight Kessler’s differentiators.
“In-person campus tours took a huge hit,” said Griggs. “Nowadays, first impressions occur online, and the old website didn't have the opportunity for current or prospective parents to really find what they're looking for.”
“I felt like there was a need to update our digital presence with our school,” she explained, adding that their previous site required users to browse page after page before finding answers to their questions. “It was so disorganized that I needed a clean start. We needed a site that reflected that Kessler is a school providing a quality education for the community.”
And so began the school’s redesign, a project that would also coincide with a capital campaign to assist Kessler’s recent acquisition and planned relocation to a new campus just a few miles away. The school’s new home will allow for the expansion and support of its mission to provide a high-quality, personalized education for future generations of students, including the recent inclusion of two additional grades. “I thought that it would be a great idea to intertwine something new with that new campus,” Griggs shared, noting that the future of the school will begin with a new physical campus, as well as a new site.
Design and Deployment
While winter storms rolled through much of Texas, Griggs got to work on the redesign. “For me, I really want to do as much as possible, as fast as possible. When you're new, you’re already learning so much, so why not add this on top?”
Griggs partnered with faculty and administration to rewrite, remove, and reimagine site content, while incorporating new imagery and keeping information as fresh and accurate as possible. Her strategy involved approaching the redesign through the lens of the user’s journey: someone with little knowledge about the school, coming to the site to learn more. “If I were a grandparent or a prospective parent, what information would I want right now?” she considered.
As the project lead, Griggs worked directly with Finalsite’s Deployment Team to strategize the look and feel of their site, brainstorming the functionality, style, and navigation while incorporating Kessler’s brand. As one of more than 30 "themes" built by Finalsite’s award-winning design team, a theme site was the perfect solution for Kessler’s budget and schedule.
Working with a Finalsite project manager through the deployment process helped Griggs prioritize tasks and stay on schedule. “She was really good at answering my questions in a timely manner and kept us on track, especially with that overarching view of the new campus intertwining with our timeline.”
“I knew that this is probably the only time I'd be able to achieve all the training before things got hectic, especially during the school year,” Griggs said. Her project manager took point on software training, often hand-selecting instructional videos for Griggs and providing frequent project updates and check-ins. “I liked seeing the bigger picture of where we were, what we needed to do, and what we already accomplished,” Griggs said. “It really helped a lot, especially with the quick turnaround timeline we requested before the launch. Seeing those tiny victories let us know we were moving slowly, but surely.”
The deployment team coached and provided feedback on everything from best-practices and image selection to page design and color schemes. “I really appreciated that consulting,” Griggs said. “There were things I would've never guessed that were a better approach than what I originally envisioned. Luckily this Finalsite support crew really went above and beyond what I thought I would have received.”
"The site gives a statement that we're here to change. We are ready to move and we're starting digitally first."
Launch and Reception
When the site launched, it marked an important step in the school’s history and served as a cornerstone of their fundraising efforts. “I felt like it was the beginning of a huge domino effect on our capital campaign,” Griggs said. “The site gives a statement that we're here to change. We are ready to move and we're starting digitally first.”
With Finalsite’s Composer, building pages, managing content, and maintaining the site is made easy with a modern, powerful drag-and-drop “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” content management system. “My colleague raves how easy her job is with this new website,” Griggs added, noting that what would have taken hours, now takes minutes. “Time better spent doing something more relevant to our jobs…That's a win in my book.”
That enthusiasm has spread through the community, too. “We received lots of positive feedback, not only from teachers, but also from parents,” Griggs shared. “I’m proud that the aesthetic is so clean; it's easy to navigate and we’re able to direct people who have questions to the website and they find answers in a jiffy.”
The excitement and anticipation of relocating to a new campus is now chronicled on Kessler’s new site — a platform which serves as a hub for communications, campus renderings, and project updates, as well as an avenue to receive gifts to support the campaign.
The school’s new site now leads with a professional video that serves as an overview of the campus, highlighting its programs, spirit, and community. Visitors get a real sense of the values and mission, and what their child can expect from an education at Kessler.
Branded icons on the homepage help grant instant access to important sections of the site, like admission and curriculum details, along with links to the calendar and the faculty and staff directory. No more digging or extensive searches to find what parents need! The icons and layout also look great during the mobile experience, which puts all the important information right at the parent's fingertips when they’re on-the-go.
Links to recent news stories engage prospective families and inform parents, while a strong value statement anchors the homepage and helps instill the school’s mission.
The Future is Bright
Launching a new site can be an ambitious undertaking, especially when beginning a new role and preparing for the next important chapter in the school’s story.
“It was a nice cherry on top for the capital campaign and the new campus,” Griggs said. “It was a good investment in the long run—to invest in something like this for the convenience and time savings.”
Now, as the community eagerly awaits its new campus, Kessler’s new site can welcome families with the same spirit and energy.
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