Charleston Day School (CDS), an independent K-8 school in historic downtown, needed a digital presence reflective of its campus community. As it stood, the site was difficult for users to navigate and for staff to maintain. Whenever the CDS team needed to share information with the community, they had to update multiple platforms, from the site to an online calendar to in-school TV screens.
SOUTH was enlisted to build a more appealing site to pique interest among prospective and current parents, as well as a more user-friendly site for CDS staff.
Charleston Day School
- Responsive Website
- Video Production
02Mapping Our Approach
Tucked within a large city block in the heart of historic downtown, the CDS campus community is a warm, close-knit environment where values of leadership and civility are cornerstones. The website needed to fully reflect its unique environment, especially to parents deciding on the best place for their young ones.
To get there, we focused on site navigation, beautiful photography and video, seamless integration with an existing software platform, and ease of use.
We implemented a flexible CMS for the main site that would provide mobile-friendliness, easy integration with other platforms, and ease of use for site maintenance into the future.
03The Beauty of Experience
As much as possible, we wanted to place prospective families in the hallways of CDS so that they wouldn’t be able to resist taking the next step: coming in for a visit. To do this, we needed beautiful video and photography, representative of everyday life at CDS and showcasing just how exceptional the students and teachers really are.
We mapped out a full day at CDS and identified prime places and times to capture rich interactions inside the classroom and outside campus walls — as well as students of all age groups. We acquired photo and video footage simultaneously to use across the site, including a welcome video for the home page, which we messaged, scripted and recorded.
04Partnering for Function and Ease
CDS utilized the education platform from Blackbaud, a non-profit software giant, for their online application, donations, registration, and online calendar, among other functions. Our vision for the way these two sites would work together was by designing a user “portal”, or toolkit, to serve as a landing page and navigation between the two sites. Here, all Blackbaud-owned functions were aggregated in one place, so that a user would be cognizant and receptive to any slight changes in experience from the content-driven site to function-driven pages.
We also ensured that all direct links between the two sites (via navigation, footer menu, calls to action) sent users straight to the requested page, bypassing the toolkit.
Lastly, to provide users a quick glance at upcoming events, we showcased parts of the online events calendar on the main home page, pulling in the next few events through the Blackbaud API.
The entire way we stayed in close contact with our partners at Blackbaud, both teams ensuring that integration and launch went off without a hitch.
05Measure Every Step
For every web project we do, testing is built into the process. With the home page and other top-level pages, we run our designs through predictive heat mapping tools to understand which layouts and images are likely to perform best. We also closely track live heat mapping and Google Analytics on the current site to better understand user flows, frustrations, popular destinations, and more. Lastly, live user testing post-launch offers the ultimate insight on factors such as call-to-action placement, copy and color.
Today, the site is more easily managed and fully reflective of the community it represents, building a sense of excitement and affinity among audiences old and new. The CDS team can also easily update the site into the future from one accessible place.
“The design of the site is beautiful and easy to navigate. The back-end is also easy to use. Whenever we encountered a glitch or hiccup in the design functionality, SOUTH has been responsive to offer a solution. They did an incredible job managing the project through challenges of changes in our leadership team and project management.”
— Elizabeth Cook, Charleston Day School
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