Northfleet School for Girls are a school that believe that every student can ‘Dream big and achieve’, with high expectations a central part of the strategy to help students do this. Vastly improving standards and a clear vision for the future under new head teacher Chris Norwood meant that their out of date and confusing website was becoming more and more out of sync with what is was like to be part of the school. The building and the facilities are fresh and modern, with open plan classrooms and vibrant colours creating an exciting environment for the children to learn in.
The current website was becoming more and more disconnected from the reality of being a student at the school. The leadership team at Northfleet School for Girls were looking for a website that could communicate their vision for the future of the school and could raise the profile of the school inline with the improvements that have been made to the school itself. A digital extension of the culture, quality and experience of being taught at the school.
Before we even started thinking about sitemaps and layouts we knew the key to delivering a successful site for the school was going to be engaging the very people that make up the school community in the design process, the pupils. We setup workshops with both staff and a diverse range of pupils to give their view on what it’s like to be at the school and things they love and hate about the website they had. The insight from these workshops was fantastic (don’t ask a group of pupils what they think unless you want the hard truth!) and allowed us to focus on some key needs as well as getting a real feel for the school community.
With our requirements and insight in place we were able to develop some key innovations for the site that met specific school needs. We developed an alerts panel which can be accessed at the top of each page providing alerts by user type, making important information instantly and easily available. The home page itself is also designed as a dashboard to give an overview of events, statistics, information, social media, news and even emergency alerts that override the main banner when there is snow or other similar urgent information. Portals for students, teachers and parents as well as the ‘colleges’ within the school provide vital hubs for users to find all the information and content they need in one place. User journeys for repeat visitors are short, simple and rewarding and for new visitors exploring information about the school and getting a feel for the school vision and culture is fluid and intuitive.
With a limited existing brand style, setting the visual branding on the website was critical to its success. To ensure the feel for their digital presence was authentic, the style of the website was directly inspired by our visits to the school and hearing students describe it. Colour was clearly a powerful tool within the school to show the energy, diversity, fun and to give a sense of belonging to the pupils. We took this fully onboard including strong blocks of colour, brightly coloured backgrounds and text throughout the site. Along with the colour we developed a graphic style using segments from the logo mark (which is also an architectural feature) overlayed on images and bespoke illustrations and icons to create a distinctive look and feel.
We designed the site to create a real sense of energy, with layouts that are responsive, dynamic and surprising. To enable this to be manageable for the school we developed a modular page builder based on the simple CMS, Perch. This innovation allows the school to build entirely unique pages, using the building blocks we have provided them. Selecting content types, block size, orientation and even colour, gives the school the ability to keep new pages fresh and interesting whilst retaining the integrity of the original site design.
The resulting website design for Northfleet School for Girls is full of innovation, unique functionality and highly creative branding design. The site has been widely praised by staff, parents and pupils, which for a site serving such a passionate community of users was always going to be a tough win. You can see how our inclusive process shows in the results and communicates the life and ethos of the school in an authentic and real way. Innovation and creativity that is inspired by and serves the school and its pupils, we’re proud to be part of their story.