A website should be a fluid evolving entity of interesting and valuable information for an audience – your audience. Often, websites are built and left with the misconception that they are complete, remaining static without any additional content being published. This isn’t how a great website should be, especially in an ever-changing educational world where existing and prospective parents are looking for answers to their questions.
Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School has always held a strong reputation in its co-educational boarding and day school, located just outside the City of Bunbury, two hours south of Perth. In addition to the local surrounds, many boarders come from the Wheatbelt and southern regions of the state to experience the excellent boarding facilities with a local feel. However, with the growth of the independent school market in the area, it has become increasingly important to the school to stand out from the crowd and be seen and heard above the rest.
What did they have?
Although Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School already had a functional website, it no longer reflected the core brand identity of the school, making it difficult for prospective parents to navigate the site. The poor functionality also meant that parents were unable to access the information they needed when they needed it. More importantly, it didn’t clearly communicate the school’s unique educational offerings.
When the new marketing team was brought onboard, they were tasked with updating and refreshing the website as part of the school’s new marketing approach. A review of the site’s Google Analytics revealed that many of the pages were not viewed by parents, while other pages had high bounce rates and low traffic levels. The search tool provided high levels of traffic to internal pages due to the disorganised nature of content on the website.
In a highly competitive independent school marketplace, Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School wanted to ensure they stood out from the crowd with an interactive and easy to navigate website that engaged and piqued the interest of their audience without being overwhelming – not just for prospective parents, but also for existing parents. With that in mind, they wanted their website to reflect the bushlands and natural landscape the school was built on, with students being front and centre.
The website needed to work as a promotional and marketing tool for prospective parents, while also being a communication hub for current families. It needed to be flexible and integrate links with other online systems used by the school, and to provide seamless access for parents and students to the school portal.
During the evaluation of their existing website, the school recognised that many of the sport and club forms on the site were hard to use and difficult to navigate. This provided scope to develop a user-friendly form with dropdown functionality enabling parents to choose exactly where they wanted their enquiry to go. The school also required protected pages, specifically for music classes, so existing students could access information privately.
With digital technology continually changing, the school understood that they needed adaptable functionality for parents to make secure online payments, view calendars, sign up to open days, view image galleries and search, both on desktop and mobile devices.
How did they work out what they needed?
The team knew a developer was needed to help unravel the complexities of their existing website and to enable them to build a new site, ensuring the look and feel reflected the brand and image of the school, as well as working alongside their current IT systems.
Developers were brought in to equip the school with the tools they needed to manage and grow their website with the flexibility that was needed. By partnering with a developer, the team was able to understand exactly what needed to be implemented and how to do it effectively.
The progression of Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School’s website – from a skeleton wireframe to its final stages before going live.
Building a website comes with its own set of challenges. These often come in the form of content and communication, so the team crafted a comprehensive brief to set expectations and requirements. The result was that, with the help of a developer, Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School was able to have autonomy over content.
Having a developer on board during the website build ensured that the functionality of the website was suitable for existing and prospective parents from rural, Wheatbelt and southern regions. It also meant that, as there would be multiple users of the content management system (CMS), the site would be easily accessible for editing and website updates following completion.
The school’s website was completed to include fully functioning forms, online payments and image galleries. It now provides access to existing parents as well as limited access to prospective parents – while still allowing them to view school life and virtual tours with ease.
With the new website built and navigation simplified, it has achieved 30 percent more traffic from new visitors and an eight percent overall increase in traffic compared to the previous website. By engaging a developer to apply insight, the process was simplified, timescales were shorter and parents now have – and use – the website in the ways they want and need.
In reality of course, the website never stops evolving and growing. Information will change … and that is something to be embraced.
- Websites are fluid and evolving – they should not remain static.
- Review your analytics – are the right people getting to the right pages?
- Communicate your core brand identity and unique offerings.
- Your website design should reflect what your audiences want and need.