BJAB is a kindergarten and primary school located in Brussels. BJAB follows the National Curriculum for England and teaching is done in English to 200 or so pupils whose origins span from all over the world.
BJAB’s previous website was too wordy, too “templatey”, and did not give a proper depiction of the school’s joyful and colorful environment. “We don’t want an off-the-shelf solution. We want something unique that truly depicts who we are in a much more visual way”.
Diagnostic? acute wordingitis!
Inside this British school of excellence, it is hard not to sense a very positive and welcoming atmosphere. This elegant, majestuous house with many interesting architectural spots provide a great visual and learning environment; in a way very formal, impeccable shape, yet at the same time irrigated with life and colors, pictures, words and drawings by children. It invoke the typical, a bit “messy” sometimes, atmosphere of a family. This combination of classicism, tradition from the building with the joyful energy of children who are obviously very happy to be there gives a very great first impression of the school.
The problem for which the BJAB kindly requested my help is that the website – its main marketing tool – failed short of conveying that unique combination of classicism, tradition, exceptional competence in a caring environment – family warmth. The previous website relied too heavily on words and failed to convey the exclusive image of the school. Sure, the information is there, but there is no clear message, the information architecture is too complex and mixes «inwards» needs (e.g: information about the school calendar, the «daily life» breakdown is very interesting for the current parents, not so much for the prospective parents, etc.) with «outwards» needs ( convince prospective parents to consider BJAB for their child). The visual interface was too heavy on makeup, and not enough on real information.
How to fix that ? Clarity.
Authenticity. Make your strength points part of the story that is to be told to your online visitor. By focusing the communication on the children, the pedagogic project, the architecture, the infrastructure and the staff, we give a heartwarming, convincing and genuine portrayal of the school to your target audiences. People recognize and seek authenticity. No big boasting slogans or lengthy texts telling how great you are. Short phrases, facts and visuals that make sense and transmit the «tradition» and «caring environment» values. They will establish trust and will ease the conversion of visitors into users and advocates of the school.
Understand the audience. In order to become familiar with BJAB target audience, current parents were invited to answer a short questionnaire. This helped identify the target audience’s «trigger» words and was a way to give the parents an opportunity to voice their affection towards the school and to have an impact on the final website.
Clarify through reduction. An important step was to separate the «internal» needs (information and functionalities for the current parents, an internal communication tool) and the «external» needs (persuasive information to help prospective parents in their decisions). Such separation will help clarify the message because each tool gains a clear purpose with different target audiences.
Word-of-mouth» strategy. The school’s reputation is its main asset. A short and lively video that is easily shared on social networks or via e-mail makes it easy for «passionate» parents to talk about the school to their own network. Busy users love the promess that in one minute, they will get the information and essence of the school. Nothing to read, just watch & listen. Videos, if hosted on a service like Vimeo and Youtube, are a simple link, easily shareable via email and social networks. Great for word-of-mouth.
To see the result, visit BJAB’s website. Or read some more if you’re interested in the nuts and bolts.
Meet the Team
This project involved several different deliverables. I hired several specialists – people I knew would do better than me in their specific area of expertise and give me more workforce. I’m grateful to these fellows for their contribution:
- I provided wireframes and instructions to Emile-Victor Portenart who took care of the visual design and branding, along with Christophe Hansen (Coté Clair) for building the website.
- Mathieu Galopin is a great photographer and artist. His photos transform life into visual moments and transpire authenticity.
- Last but not least, Alexandre Tournay was the movie designer. He made it look so easy, and achieved a truly great video, that had us men shed tears of emotions!
Here is a screenshot of the homepage on a desktop. Make sure to pay BJAB a visit.