The International School of Brussels
Since first partnering with Finalsite in 2005, The International School of Brussels (ISB) has always been a leader in its field.
By continually evolving its technology, enhancing their brand, and creatively finding new ways to share their story, the school remains at the forefront of international education.
While a quick glance at the evolution of ISB’s site reveals some dramatic changes, the updates represent more than 15 years of changes in school website design — changes in style, layout, accessibility, and functionality, all which have created a better user experience for families.
However, as many schools experienced, the challenges of a global pandemic once again spurred a need for a redesign and ushered in the school’s fifth redesign with Finalsite.
At a Glance
With a rich history dating back 70 years, the International School of Brussels is home to 1350 students from 70 countries. Its mission is to develop independent learners and international citizens in an environment where all students are included, challenged, and successful.
The Challenge: A Global Pandemic Changed Everything
The average lifespan of a school website is now less than three years, and with the current state of international affairs and the need for more streamlined communication, sites need to be able respond to the ever-changing needs of their community.
“These have been years like no other,” shared senior communications coordinator Francesca Siciliano. “With the pandemic and so many changes happening in the world, our website needed to reflect the way the school changed too. This time also taught us new things about the way our users access and respond to information.”
When ISB launched their last website in 2019, simplicity and search were core to the redesign. Then during the pandemic, the world changed with lockdowns, online schooling, virtual admissions, and so many more changes. The school realized their website fell short by not focusing mainly on prospective families and furthermore, the navigation was too complex for some users, and there were too many pages of information.
“With the pandemic, families — at all stages of the lifecycle of school experience — became even more connected to positive digital experiences. We needed to respond to those evolving expectations and to reflect who we have become.”
“With the pandemic, families at all stages of the lifecycle of school experience became even more connected to positive digital experiences. We needed to respond to those evolving expectations and to reflect who we have become.”
SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
The Solution: Provide a Better User Experience for Prospective Families
Once ISB realized their current website needed updating, Siciliano and the ISB team wasted no time in establishing goals for the next generation of its website, which primarily focused on the prospective family experience.
Those key goals included:
- Designing a simpler website and embracing this simplicity across the board with less information, fewer pages, and a streamlined navigation.
- Integrating key information such as facts and figures into the user experience and making it more readily accessible.
- Connecting on a more emotional level with users via design elements such as their ‘Play’ section, dynamic transitions and animations found throughout the site.
In order to achieve these goals, ISB set up a flexible redesign team that allocated the right resources at the right time. They defined a ‘road map’ with milestones and used data and best practices to understand and define their requirements. Another key aspect in the design process was the attention to content including: new photos, videos, and language fine tuned for their new site. That effort required strong coordination with their team as well as external service providers.
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The Result: A Website that Shows and Tells
The new ISB website is based on the idea of "Show and Tell." The homepage, the Play section, and key landing pages, like their Admissions page, are able to both connect emotionally with prospective families and share key messaging, including preparing students for the future, academic performance, and their remarkable teachers. Hero page banners are highly visual and highlight key information that's supported by calls to action and clear navigation to guide readers.
This new "Show and Tell” approach is visible through the site and is clearly highlighted on these pages:
- Academic Performance Insights
- Play video section
- Community and Admissions landing pages
- Learning in Action Stories
To achieve these goals, reusable design and panel elements were created and different combinations of these elements are then used throughout the site to craft engaging and purpose-driven pages.
Feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly positive and early indications have shown an 18% increase in new website visitors. ISB attributes its new website as a contributing factor to the influx of monthly applications — its highest on record.
“It’s important to put together a strong team, allocate sufficient resources, and be ambitious!” Sicilano shared. “Given the time we are living in, there is more uncertainty and therefore teams need to be more flexible. Web design is constantly changing and it is important to be aware of different market practices as well.”
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