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- International School
How do you evolve the brand of one of the UK’s oldest girls’ schools in an increasingly competitive private schools sector, whilst maintaining its strong heritage and unique ethos? We spoke with with Jenny Blaiklock, director of development and communications at Lady Eleanor Holles (LEH) and Ingrid Usher, marketing officer, to find out.
LEH is an all-girls independent school, founded in 1710, located in Hampton, Middlesex, with approximately 730 students in the Senior School and 190 girls in the Junior School. Whilst the school had been successful in achieving its academic goals, the website was dated and did not match the school’s modern and vibrant identity. Parents commented that it was difficult to navigate which resulted in high bounce rates. Additionally, the website content management system was time-consuming for staff to make updates.
The website redesign was part of a bigger branding exercise. When Heather Hanbury became the new headmistress in 2014, she recognized that it was the perfect time to re-evaluate the school brand, including everything from digital and print communications to uniform and signage. LEH initially undertook some marketing research to cover two phases of qualitative and quantitative research amongst girls, parents, staff and alumnae. This led to a more striking brand logo and identity.
The Decision to Partner with Finalsite
LEH’s relationship with Finalsite began when they attended a free Finalsite Social Media Workshop. “We received so much useful information from the workshop and the Finalsite staff were so friendly and helpful that we went on to host our own social media workshops the following year,” explains Ingrid.
When it came time for the website redesign, Finalsite was invited to pitch against two other companies. “Finalsite offered an up-to-date platform backed by a robust yet easy-to-use content management system (Composer) Even more so, what appealed to us most was their great customer service,” says Jenny.
“We wanted a website that was easy to navigate so that anyone visiting our site, be it prospective parents, staff or governors, could get the information they needed quickly and easily,” Ingrid explains. The new user journey would have to support marketing and admissions’ goals as well as telling the LEH story in a fresh and vibrant approach. In addition, with a new school opening in Foshan, China, LEH was particularly impressed with Finalsite’s global expertise. The International School site (which launched shortly before the main LEH site) needed to be bilingual, and with Finalsite’s experience in working with over 5,000 schools in 75 countries, LEH were confident they had the systems in place to launch and manage the site successfully.
What are some highlights of the new website?
Increased engagement with site videos
LEH’s motto is “Hope Favours the Bold.” This is now reflected in the striking new robust website which embodies the school motto in its vibrant, fresh and contemporary design and the use of photography and videography to reflect the ethos of the school. Video features prominently on the homepage with an inspiring welcome speech from Head Heather Hanbury as well as contributions from staff and pupils.
Optimised navigation and secure portals
The user journey is much more streamlined and users can easily navigate around the site. Strong imagery defines user paths, allowing existing parents and staff to find their password-protected portals quickly and log in securely. This allows the homepage to focus on informing prospective parents about the merits of LEH and encouraging them to learn more and enquire.
Easy to update and maintain content
LEH is surrounded by a caring community of local families and businesses, and the school can accept donations on the Support Us webpages. Additionally, they are creating a dedicated page for their upcoming Bursary Ball (the first!) to acknowledge and thank sponsors by listing their logos with links to the local businesses’ websites. This page has certainly contributed to LEH’s most successful annual fundraising campaign to date, with a 400% rise in participation year-on-year.
Key results from the website redesign
Composer enables the school to easily share the responsibility of website maintenance. Now, the website is a joint team effort, with different departments taking ownership of their sections, which simultaneously reflects the school community voice, with timely updates from human resources, admissions and the marketing teams. Ms. Amna Siddiqui, the registrar, explains: “The website is incredibly user-friendly. On a regular basis the admissions team updates the website with ease. We have built web-based forms for open events, removing the need for parents to send emails for a booking and overall parents love the new look and feel of the website.”
Both the new LEH website, which launched in January 2019, and the international school website for LEH Foshan, which launched shortly before, are showing strong results. Whilst previously users were getting lost in the menus of the old website and dropping out along the way, the clear new navigation and design have resulted in a much lower bounce rates and longer time spent on the site. Google Analytics shows a drop from 40% to 33% and the average session time on the site has increased. The admissions page is now one of the website’s most popular pages and since the launch of the new digital admissions form, LEH is delighted to report that they have had almost 2,000 enquiries!
Jenny and Ingrid shared how well supported they felt, working closely with the friendly team at Finalsite. “Finalsite has given us a website with a distinctive design which is much admired within our sector,” Jenny said. “The speed and ease of use for everybody who interacts with it has been fantastic. Composer is really intuitive to use and this, along with the excellent customer support, has resulted in a great partnership. We now think of Finalsite as very much part of our team.”
Armed with her degree in English Literature, Julie started her career in print publishing working within the editorial team at Penguin Books where first she discovered the wonderful world of digital marketing! She worked on launching the Readers’ Group Website at Penguin Books before moving on to Audible UK where she was Online Editor. She then took a fashionable step into e-commerce where she worked on the launch of Selfridges. A keen reader, when not working within the marketing team at Finalsite UK, Julie spends most of her spare time reading books and looking after her school-age twins.
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