International School of Beijing
ISB is home to a vibrant and diverse community of approximately 1,700 students representing around 50 countries. Their research-based programs, high-quality teaching, and outstanding and ever-improving facilities enable students at ISB to be prepared for success in a world that keeps changing at a breathtaking pace.
"ISB is an extraordinary school, made so by a tradition of educational excellence spanning 40 years. Establishing, nurturing, and growing such an exceptional learning community has been and remains intentional; we work hard to build strong relationships so our learning is at its best."
- ISB Website
"We found moving to Composer such a bonus. It’s so much easier to use. It’s quite intuitive, so it didn’t require a lot of re-training for our staff in different divisions who maintain their sections of the site."
COMMUNICATIONS AND MARKETING DIRECTOR
Deciding to Redesign
After an evaluation of their mission and vision, ISB realized they needed to re-articulate what they were, be more clear and succinct in their messaging, and make it easily understandable. We spoke with their team to learn more about their comprehensive and impressive website redesign.
“It’s hard to keep up with trends as styles are changing all the time," said Joanna Cole, Communications and Marketing Director. "We wanted our new site to be clean and therefore remain more timeless. Our old site was more corporate, and we wanted this site to be fun — we are a school, so we wanted to show colorful photos of joyful children and the joy of being at ISB."
"And finally, we also wanted to focus on making our internal site pages equally clean and engaging as the homepage. We wanted the transition to be fairly seamless so our community wasn’t surprised, so although the design got a fresh new look, we wanted people to still be able to find things easily.”
The result — a stunning homepage that incorporates best-practice throughout. Additionally, the website features a scrolling homepage with fabulous photography, videos, curriculum overviews, great site navigation, testimonials, interactive elements, campus map and calls-to-action that drive visitors deeper into the site.
Beauty and Strategy Beyond the Homepage
“Our website is important not just for prospective families but our current community as well," Joanna said. "We are unique in that our curriculum utilizes best practices across different curriculums, and our team realized we needed to do a better job explaining this.”
An important part of their redesign included input from admissions.
“Prospective families were asking about our curriculum and our old site was more edu-speak and no one really understood it," Joanna said. "Parents wanted to know what their students would be learning on a daily basis in plain English.”
The team worked closely with the Office of Learning to map out their curriculum content using Finalsite Posts, with extensive use of categories and tags, to achieve something remarkable. It’s no small feat but in the end, their online curriculum guide is its own mini masterpiece.
“This has greatly reduced questions about our curriculum and allowed parents to move on to learn about the other great services we provide,” Joanna said.
In unique homepage views
In unique page views for admissions
In site-wide bounce rate
Keeping International Families Engaged and Informed
ISB is busy! One peak at their colorful and comprehensive school calendar made up of 11 sub-calendars, and you quickly realize the importance of staying organized and communicating with your community.
“EVERYTHING has to be on the calendar or it just does not exist," Joanna exclaimed. "Parents know that this is the place to go — and they know they can filter the calendar based on categories and sync to their personal calendars.”
“It’s really an advantage to have real-time updates instead of .pdf’s," Joanna said. "Our admin staff can quickly update the calendar and those updates get pushed out to the parents instantaneously. This is another 'wow element' of their website redesign. Finalsite's Calendar Manager is a powerful, but not always fully-utilized feature of Finalsite, so it’s great to see ISB using Finalsite’s full capabilities.
The Importance of a Parent Portal
“Our portal, Dragons’ Gate, is critical for our communication, and we invested a huge amount of time and resources into it,” Joanna said. "This portal is essentially another website, deep and information-rich for parents and students and includes announcements, news, forms, the faculty directory, food services, ICT and so much more."
Families with multiple children are confronted with several handbooks that basically collect dust and hopefully go into paper recycling at the end of each year. ISB tackled the task of digitizing their school handbooks — not as a .pdf requiring version control, but as live portal web pages that can easily be updated instantly. If the phone policy or the bullying policy change mid-year, with a few clicks they can be updated in real time. Not only does this save trees — it saves time, and most importantly, parents can easily query and access the information on demand. Happy parents are critical for retention! Finalsite Portals, a critical component of this website masterpiece, are well worth the time and effort.
If you want to see more of the hard work that went into this site, check out the ISB News section of the website that utilizes Finalsite Posts. News, filterable by categories, is also sprinkled throughout the site on relevant pages, further engaging visitors on their journeys. ISB also has a social media mashup page, powered by Finalsite Feeds, to keep parents updated on all the events happening on their busy campus.
“We found moving to Composer such a bonus," Joanna said. "It’s so much easier to use. It’s quite intuitive, so it didn’t require a lot of re-training for our staff in different divisions who maintain their sections of the site."
"Feedback from our community has been that they like the fresh look and photos, but also the fact that the structure is fairly consistent with the previous site. This has meant people were able to easily navigate without too much training.”
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