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Nanjing International School

Established in 1992, Nanjing International School (NIS) is Nanjing’s oldest international school and China's first IB Continuum School.

NIS takes pride in being the city's only independent, fully accredited, non-profit international school, as well as being the largest and most diverse institution of its kind in Nanjing.

Known for its student-focused approach from Pre-K to 12th grade, NIS stands out as a distinguished IB World School.

But despite its accolades, Kyle Bueschlen, Head of Communications and Marketing at Nanjing International School, felt the old website didn’t adequately tell the authentic story of NIS or capture the school’s missions and spirit. After he joined NIS, Bueschlen began an ambitious best-in-class website redesign project to create a world-class representation of the inclusive school that’s home to a diverse international community of parents, students, and staff from over 30 nationalities.

Bueschlen shared the vision and process of NIS’s redesign, a project that swept the entire website category and earned Gold for both the best website homepage and homepage redesign at the recent InspirED School Marketers Brilliance Awards – the only US-based, global marketing and communications competition exclusively for private and independent schools.

nanjing aerial campus


At a Glance

Serving children age 3-18 from Pre-K to Grade 12, NIS is a non-profit international school with an inclusive learning community with more than 600 students from over 30 countries.

Nanjing International School Testimonial

What led you and your colleagues to know it was time to redesign?

“The old NIS site launched in 2019, before I joined two years later. It was a relatively new site in its lifespan but just wasn’t competitive in Nanjing’s international school market anymore. It wasn’t strategic in its purpose, design, or content. For example, there wasn’t even a map or more than a single photo of the campus facilities.

Although my team is creative, our extensive efforts to optimize and improve the site eventually maxed out due to the limitations of the design itself. With our successful rebranding and the start of our school’s 30th anniversary year, it was time to launch the website redesign project. I had previously led the build of an award-winning website redesign at another international school and was confident we could do even better at NIS with all I had learned.”


in application conversions


in website traffic


in website engagement

Hiring Targets Met
with employee recruitment

What were the goals for the project? 

“Our goal was to create a unique, world-class website that served as an effective admissions funnel and a vibrant, visual embodiment of our school’s mission and strategy.

Most of the content on the website had been updated and was high-quality, but the structure, design, and navigation just weren’t there to support it. We wanted something new, unique, and bespoke to NIS. Like our school, it needed to be a modern fusion of East and West. We wanted to transform our old site from ‘acceptable’ to ‘exceptional’ using the latest website design, best practices, professional photos, videos, and copy. The new one needed to be imaginative, inspiring, and authentic.”

What was the strategy behind those goals?

“Following our NIS Integrated Communications & Marketing Strategy, the website redesign was the culmination of more than two years of overhauling the school’s communications and branding from the ground up.

Nanjing homepage mockup

With this in mind, we formed a very small team of decision-makers and developed a streamlined site map for the main site and a revamped Parent Portal. Ease of navigation and accessibility was key, and we wanted to create a mobile-first site, as analytics showed most of our current and prospective users are viewing our site on phones.

We already knew from marketing surveys what prospective parents were looking for in our market and what was effective, which we then translated into the design – international, community, great academics, co-curriculars, university acceptances, and student-centered.

Mockups for the homepage were initially created on paper and then digitally after extensive research and brainstorming. The design underwent several significant iterations before settling on the bold colors and iconic brushstrokes that now characterize the entire site. This fantastic, innovative design is complemented by best practices in layout, navigation, content, and overall user experience. Finally, moving the content from our old site was relatively seamless, requiring some tweaks to fit with the new design.”

What was your website redesign process like?

“Our budget was sufficient enough to achieve all the features, functionality, and level of design that would give us the most customization and freedom to realize our vision.

We economized in many ways by using professional in-house video, copywriting, and design assets. By having our re-branding finished and content updated over the past two years, we didn’t need to outsource anything other than web design with Finalsite. 

"Strive for perfection and achieve excellence” was a good mantra for us. While it was a lot of work, we were very agile because of the small group of decision-makers, and the trust and support of senior leadership helped make this possible. Once the design was finalized and programmed into the CMS, it was a smooth and successful process.

From contract sign to launch, the entire project took ten months, and the site went live just as our 30th anniversary year ended — a nice gift for our community and a fitting way to celebrate.”

Once launched, what was the feedback from the community, and what were the results of the redesign? 

“We’ve heard several new families and educators became interested and committed to joining our school simply because of the new website experience. We’ve seen increased metrics across the board, including:

  • A 15% increase in conversions for admissions applications
  • A 25% increase in website traffic
  • A 30% increase in website engagement
  • Met hiring targets with improved faculty/staff recruitment
  • A world-class mobile-friendly user experience
  • Vastly improved experiences for parents, as well as prospective families and educators 

So many school websites nowadays are very cookie-cutter and could belong to any school, anywhere. Dare to be different, and don’t settle for ‘good enough’ with a project as big as this.” 

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