Lincoln Community School
Lincoln Community School (LCS) is a PreK-12th grade IB World School with 750 students from over 50 countries in Accra, Ghana. The school has a rich and vibrant history spanning back to 1968 and is proud to be celebrating their 50th anniversary later this year.
LCS first partnered with Finalsite in 2010, but since then, the needs of their community have changed — primarily on the mobile front. Mobile-first design is critical in Western Africa. In Ghana, due to the lack of internet reliability at home, school community members rely heavily on their mobile devices. LCS’s prior website was not responsive, and with parents primarily accessing the website and reading the weekly newsletter on their mobile devices, it was mandatory for the website to be restructured and redesigned.
We sat down with Cynthia Davis Hall, Director of Advancement, and Kwame Nana-Atoo, Webmaster/UX Designer and native Ghanaian, to discuss the success of their recent project.
In addition to a focus on mobile design and their 50th anniversary, LCS’s new vision and new mission needed to be incorporated into the new website design and messaging.
Kwame said the school's mission of "Learn, Lead, and Connect" helped guide the team through the redesign process. They spent a lot of time evaluating other sites and worked closely with their head of School, Sheena Nabholz, who’s strong design sense helped guide the team.
Lincoln Community School (LCS) is an International Baccalaureate world school offering the Primary Years, Middle Years, and Diploma Programmes through the lens of U.S. curricular standards. LCS is recognized as a leading international school in Africa.
As an international school in an increasingly cosmopolitan Accra, Lincoln's students and faculty come from countries around the globe. LCS boasts some 62 different nationalities among its community with an equally intentionally diverse faculty to ensure that the teacher demographic is a reflection of that of the student body..
"We had a fantastic Finalsite Project Manager who listened to what we wanted, helped with our priorities and guided us on best practices. We looked forward to our weekly calls with her and are so pleased with the results."
CYNTHIA DAVIS HALL
DIRECTOR OF ADVANCEMENT
A mobile-first redesign
The new LCS website design successfully addressed the school’s key communication goals without exceeding budget requirements. The school leveraged Finalsite’s ability to tailor one of its popular themes to meet its branding as well as strategic goals.
LCS chose a Finalsite Theme Plus design and added some customizations to create a design that enabled them to showcase their school to drive enrollment and engagement.
“The theme we chose worked really well for our communication goals and it looked great on mobile devices, and at the same time fit our budget and timeline criteria,” Cynthia said.
Content Strategy for Mobile
LCS first partnered with Finalsite in 2010, but since then, the needs of their community changed — primarily on the mobile front. Mobile-first design is critical in Western Africa. In Ghana, due to the lack of internet reliability at home, school community members rely heavily on their mobile devices.
LCS’s prior website was not responsive, and with parents primarily accessing the website and reading the weekly newsletter on their mobile devices, it was mandatory for the website to be restructured and redesigned.
Kwame, who worked on much of the actual website content, said, “we realized people are reading less and less, so images and videos were more important when we started mapping out our new site. We wanted a clean, simple and straightforward content along with photographs that really showcased our mission and the diversity of our community.”
The school's photographer was given clear instructions on the types of photos to capture in order to fit with the theme, style and messaging of the new website.
The vibrant site colors, stunning photography, up-to-date news, social media feeds, and interactive elements engage visitors from the moment they land on the site. The homepage is bolstered by an attractive footer showcasing Kente, a silk and cotton fabric native to West Ghana, adding a subtle but powerful reminder of the school’s location and rich heritage.
Finalsite’s Content Management System, Composer, is robust and allows for flexible page layouts, embedded elements, flexible navigation and other tools which Kwame took advantage of while using his creativity to reuse custom content elements throughout the site while also adding unique elements as well.
Highlights include: Wordart to showcase what advancement means to LCS, social media mashup, pages to keep parents engaged, and other embedded elements, including a college matriculation banner, YouTube videos, and livestreaming events.
Recommendations for Success
“We had ample time to work through our project and had some extra time to polish it off a bit further before launching in May,” Cynthia said.
Cynthia also stressed that securing the financing was the first step and was pleased that Finalsite worked with the school to meet their budgeting requirements while at the same time meeting their marketing and communication goals. Other key elements were hiring their webmaster, Kwame, who possessed a wealth of knowledge and ample experience that helped him to execute on the strategy she and her team envisioned.
“I also cannot state enough how important the Website Redesign Playbook was as it gave us a good overview while guiding us along and helped make the redesign manageable while at the same time warning us on what to watch out for," Cynthia said. "Feedback has been extremely positive as the website is much easier to use, content is easier to digest, there are more photos and the site is just all around a big improvement.”
The Work Never Ends
As a member of the Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA), LCS was provided resources from 9ine, a data protection, cyber security and safeguarding consulting firm who provided schools with GDPR School Readiness Resources. Even though Ghana is thousands of kilometers away from Europe, Ghana law follows EU Law so they too must be compliant with the EU Global Data Protection Laws. LCS continues to look at their data processes as well as the use of photographs on the website to remain compliant with all data protection laws.
Cynthia offered this advice to other schools who were contemplating a redesign: “We were well prepared having read the hugely informative Website Redesign Playbook. We also performed surveys and carefully budgeted this project before taking the step forward to redesign. Additionally, we had a fantastic Finalsite Project Manager who listened to what we wanted, helped with our priorities and guided us on best practices. We looked forward to our weekly calls with her and are so pleased with the results.”
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