Client: Accrington Academy
One of the United Learning schools located in the North West of England.
Accrington Academy is sponsored by the United Learning group and whilst it had a reasonable website it lacked in a number of areas. Updates were difficult for the staff to manage and a result was that information soon became outdated and therefore gave little reason for site visitors to return. The site also lacked good imagery and a poor experience when viewed on mobile devices.
I was invited to see the Head Teacher after he had received a recommendation from a leading school governor to look at previous work Webformity had done. He explained to me that whilst the whole school website required an overall the remit also included working closely with the Sixth Form team to help them promote the excellent work and results that were happening.
The Academy also hosted a third party organisation’s website whose staff were based at the Academy. The team managed a series of sporting activities around the borough which was focused on primary school children. This section required a different branding and relied heavily on social media tools to engage with their audience.
So with three distinct sections to build and brand differently within one install was a huge challenge. I opted to use WordPress along with the excellent Elegant Themes Divi framework system. Using this modular system allowed me to build out the styling and modules to allow for the three different brand requirements.
The Divi theme or framework has seen huge investment and development making it one of the premier WordPress themes of choice. The ability to build re-usable templates from whole pages, sections and individual modules and apply them as global items allows for very complex site builds indeed.
I opted to build the site utilising a mega menu since this was going to be a huge website with some 220 pages. The mega menu allows you to show all locations without hiding pages within sub-menus so that it is easy to locate the pages you require. Good design dictates that you should not have more than three levels of navigation to drill down – I was able to build this complex site with only two levels of navigation.
Services provided on this project
We designed these pages to showcase the class subjects with subject relevant images. Additionally we placed each subject choice in a visual grid that has a great but subtle interaction when the site visitor mouses over the choices. The idea was to increase the visual experience and tempt the reader to follow the links to read more and therefore increase user engagement.
This was a complex site encompassing three distinct sections with three distinct branding requirements. The main school had to focus on the dark and light blue with white and occasional grey colouring. Imagery was used throughout all pages to enhance the page topic and give additional interest to the reader.
A major part of the brief was to showcase the work of the Sixth Form and give them a matching but unique branding style so that the section stood out on its own although it was part of the larger site. The Divi framework from Elegant Themes proved to be a fantastic tool with its built in theme customiser and unique library system allowing for template pages, sections and modules to be designed and re-used throughout the site.
Light, medium and dark teal along with a dark grey colour was chosen and this matched colours used in the current Sixth Form prospectus and tied the two together giving a very professional feel to the school offering.
The school website plays host to the district School Sports Partnership organisation whose team co-ordinate a huge range of sporting activities inter school at all levels but mainly focusing on the primary sector. They have their own unique branding requirements as well that are radically different from the school branding. Using the built in features of the Divi Framework with a little bit of CSS trickery I was able to hide elements of the main school website so that the SSP branding and content appeared to be standalone.
On page load the main site menu is not shown and a purpose built menu for the SSP pages is displayed allowing for full navigation between its pages without the main site interfering. That said the pages were set to allow for a minimised main menu system to appear when pages were scrolled so that if the site visitor wanted to visit the Main School or Sixth Form pages they could do so.
The Head of Sixth Form wanted to allow site visitors to apply for places on the Sixth Form course online and move away from paper based application forms via the prospectus. The application form is fairly lengthy and complex and required a bespoke powerful form builder to be used which actually worked very well with the theme and was able to be styled very closely within the Sixth Form branding guidelines we had developed.
We built a multi-page form allowing the site visitor to focus on sections at a time to allow for easier data entry and a better experience. Full data validation was employed with the ability for the user to review each section before submission. The Divi framework also allows for different content to be delivered to mobile phones or tablets should that be required. In this instance it was thought that the page by page form did not lend itself to the mobile experience so a full form version is deployed to mobiles and that proved to be a much better experience.
Extremely Happy Client
Fully Responsive Design
Catering For Multiple Devices
With statistical evidence for site visits now averaging over 50% of all site visits are made by visitors using mobile devices, the use of a fully responsive framework for all web design these days is a must.
Rebuilt From The Inside Out
Using the world’s number one WordPress framework Divi from Elegant Themes the whole site renders correctly across all devices and orientation regardless of what modern browser is in use.
As well as the user experience for site visits it was also part of the brief to allow for staff to use their tablets and mobile devices in order to manage site content. This site is fully accessible via all devices for viewing or editing.
The Results Were Amazing
Looking at early statistics site visits have doubled over previous site average. The addition of a busy blog and enhanced calendar event system has given students, parents and carers reason to visit the site regularly. A recent blog post focusing on a former student visit caught the attention of many people who re-tweeted the article resulting in a 5 fold increase in traffic visits for that day showing that the power of social media to build traffic is without parallel. I am pleased that the team have risen to the challenge of taking on board reporting the many and varied activities via social media and this will reap rewards. The short term goal is to promote the school and increase the Sixth Form student numbers and the senior management team firmly believe that Webformity have given them a huge advantage over their competition and they are going all out to succeed!