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Canford School

Embarking on an Award-Winning Website Redesign

Recognizing the evolving landscape of digital behavior and the milestone of the school's centenary, Canford School embarked on a journey to revitalize its online presence.

The decision was grounded in the need for a website that showcased the school's rich history and resonated with its forward-thinking approach to education.

a group of students walking outside


At a Glance

Canford School is one of the UK's top independent co-educational senior boarding schools for pupils aged 13-18, located in the South of England.

The Need for a New Design

“Our old website did not convey the new vision and values of the school,” shared Philippa Scudds, director of marketing and communications, adding that the old site lacked quick access to important information. There were far too many pages, and more prominent calls to action were needed for recruitment.

“As we were celebrating our centenary, it was a perfect time to illustrate our school's history and showcase real-life experiences of our community today with a new website.”

homepage mockup on a laptop


Strategic Goals of the Website Redesign

For their new website, the Canford team had clearly defined goals based on visitor data and analytics, community input, and the need to showcase their current vision and values. Those key strategic goals included:

  • Develop a visually captivating website that celebrates Canford’s centenary, including an interactive timeline to illustrate the school’s prestigious history.
  • Leverage striking visuals and storytelling to showcase the personal experiences of pupils, alumni, and staff, providing an immersive understanding of Canford's new vision, mission, and values.
  • Increase direct engagement with admissions at all entry points
  • Streamline the website structure and layout to ensure clear calls to action to enhance recruitment efforts.
  • Implement a cleaner and more modern menu structure with full-width pages to align with trends in user behavior and shorter attention spans.
  • Convey Canford's welcoming and friendly feel as a complete boarding school environment while highlighting its high achievements and purpose.

The Power of Collaboration

Canford completely rewrote its content to simplify messaging and convey the school's new vision and values. Working with Finalsite’s designers, the team rethought the website's structure and removed the previous site’s three-menu system to streamline navigation and increase site engagement.

Ultimately, over 10 months, the site was reduced from 400 pages to under 100 concise pages, seamlessly combining Canford School's rich history with its contemporary educational approach. The redesign's impact has resonated locally and internationally, earning the website a prestigious 'Platinum Winner' accolade in the Education category at the 2023 dotCOMM Awards.

Success All Around

Scudds is proud of Canford’s success — and with good reason. Key metrics include:

  • 186,000 page views in the first six month: 5,000 higher than in the comparable previous year period.
  • A significant surge in web traffic to Admissions page with 29,000 direct entries to Admissions pages in the first six months since launch.
  • A consistent 93% engagement with organic and direct search, underlining sustained interest similar to the previous year and ensuring that the Canford brand is engaging with relevant audiences and resonating with the target market of prospective families and also with the commercial lets arm of the organization.


Engagement Rate
by organic and direct search traffic


Campus Visits
booked within 6 months of launch


Direct Entries
to Admission pages within 6 months of launch

The website has proven instrumental in generating Open Morning bookings, 400 in the first six months of launch, alongside individual Admissions private visit requests, demonstrating its efficacy in recruitment efforts.

“Our new website is a digital testament to the vision for every pupil to ‘Explore, Express and Excel,’ brought to life through striking visuals and film showcasing personal experiences from pupils, alumni, and staff.  We have received excellent feedback from prospective families about the simplicity of the site and the ease of navigation, which one parent mentioned was not the same experience on all school websites they had visited,” Scudds shared. 

“This site achieves our goal of combining Canford’s proud history with its forward-thinking, modern approach to education and fully uses Finalsite’s flexible and creative CMS to engage effectively with prospective parents and pupils. We are so proud of our work which culminated in our site winning a dotCOMM award.”

canford homepage on iphone mockup
Line art icon of a computer screen with a book overlaid on top.

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