Students logging onto the school’s website to complete their summer work may have been surprised by a change: it has been completely redesigned.
This project has been ongoing, with members of the Marketing and Communications Department and others working for over a year to deliver this renovated version of the site.
“Typically a website transition takes around a year,” Associate Director of Marketing and Communications Mrs. Alexis Hope, who led the project, said. “Most websites are out of date within three to four years. The old website, because of COVID and other things that delayed it, was about six years old, so it speaks to priorities that may not be at the top of our list anymore.”
This idea of establishing priorities was a key part of the site’s redesign. “The new website was really trying to establish who we are in 2022 and who we hope to be for the next five years,” Mrs. Hope said.
The project started a year ago when Mrs. Hope joined the communications team and was tasked with finding a website provider. The team ended up choosing Finalsite, the vendor of the old website, which allowed them to have access to the old website while designing the new one.
First, the team did some research by looking at other school websites. Two main websites were used for inspiration: Vail Mountain School and Whitgift School. “Vail Mountain School’s website was very clear about their differentiators,” Mrs. Hope said. “Whitgift is a boy’s school in the UK. Something that they did that we liked was the idea that boys can be multiple things.”
The entirety of the website was based on three words: welcoming, direct, and engaging.
Mrs. Hope then had to figure out what to prioritize on the website. “I was new to the community [last] August, so I had to start going around and figuring out what we as a school wanted to convey with this homepage,” Mrs. Hope explained. “The website is this first impression of what the school community is, so it was really helpful for me to have fresh eyes looking at it.”
Looking at the new homepage, the first thing a reader sees is a picture of two lower school students and the school seal. “We wanted to put the focus on the boys first and we wanted to show the boy’s experiences,” Mrs. Hope said. “We next wanted to focus on the mission of the school.” The very next thing the reader sees are the words: “Preparing Boys for Life.”
A central theme that kept popping up in Mrs. Hope’s conversations with members of the community was the importance of the school’s virtues. “What we really wanted to do with this section was show the practicality of the virtues,” Mrs. Hope said. “None of the text is fluff—all of it relates to experiences through the different divisions [grades] that speak to the virtues.”
Another idea that they wanted to convey was the idea of “Three divisions. One Vision.”
As a reader scrolls further down the page, they come across a section that has members of the community featured. “[This panel] focuses on the fact that boys can be multiple things at once,” Mrs. Hope explained. “Students don’t need to choose between athletics and arts. Again, we are prioritizing the boy’s experiences and the boy’s voices.” The quotes all point to the central idea of Haverford being a community and that these individuals are a part of the community.
At the bottom of the page is a bar with many school-specific values, like the Rite of Passage and The Haligoluk. “This is a way into the website and a touch point for new prospective families,” Mrs. Hope said. “It was a fun part of the website to code, and it is exciting because we are the first school to do something like this.”
English teacher Mr. Anthony Pariano noticed that teachers are not featured on the homepage of the website.
“Students are what make the community what it is, and they are our main focus as a school.”Associate Director of Marketing and Communications Mrs. Alexis Hope
“We really wanted to put the boys first,” Mrs. Hope noted. “Students are what make the community what it is, and they are our main focus as a school.”
One of the main upgrades of the website is the fact that its use is more streamlined and fluid. For instance, the athletics pages are now built into the website as opposed to taking you to a different page.
The language of the website has also been streamlined. “The goal for most websites is to reach a seventh-grade reading level, we were at 14+ level,” Mrs. Hope said. “We simplified the language and removed redundancies to make it really about showing and not telling. We wanted to use videos and visuals to get the point across.”
Something that Mrs. Hope reiterated was that this was a collaborative effort. “Although I was leading the process, this office, in particular, has been a huge help,” Mss. Hope stated. Every member had a different role in the project, whether it was graphic design, drafting content, or designing the website.
Although there have been a few hiccups with rolling the website out, overall the reception has been positive.