A fresh start begets fresh thinking
Many schools, in Britain in particular, are characterized by a proud and cherished heritage. The Swedish School is no exception; it has a gravitas, atmosphere and attitude all its own. In this digital overhaul, our challenge would be to evoke the school’s timeless characteristics, while also looking towards a distinguished future. Our design choices would need to withstand the test of time.
So we did our homework. We proceeded to produce reams of research about what the school means to a wide cross-section of students, parents, and administrators, with an eye for their hopes and expectations of their new website.
This process involved going to the source. Over the course of two surprisingly sunny days at SSL’s Barnes location, we conducted workshops with the various stakeholders, ranging from 6th form students to the Headmistress.
featured exercises designed to distill the essence of SSL: the characteristics, both subtle and obvious, that make it the unique institution it is. Throughout the day we also explored the kind of users that would be visiting the site, what information they would be seeking, and how they should feel when navigating. At the end of the day we pieced together all the insights that had surfaced.
was all about validation. A different focus group was called to expand on the insights collected the day before, and provide their own perspectives on the user journey. A survey sent out to a broader audience painted an even more detailed picture for us.
This wealth of input needed structure. We conducted an internal workshop with the three who had been in London, along with our developer and copywriter, to see what kind of content we had and how it should be organized. With the help of heaps of post-its, we worked towards a hierarchy of information that would give each of the website’s target audiences what they needed.
We then produced wireframes made into a clickable prototype that helped us share our vision with the client.
A new appearance
Simultaneously, we began working with the new graphic profile: the fonts, colors and imagery that would be associated with the school going forward.
For the style guide we aimed to infuse the elegance of Nordic design and add a playfulness that would make it appealing to young visitors, without losing the authority that naturally accompanies British academia. We wanted the school to be perceived as confident and proud, but also warm and welcoming.
The book has been a part of the logo since the beginning, so we kept it for recognition, while giving it a more minimalistic and sophisticated look. The colors hail from the flags of the two nations but we made them brighter for a more modern, joyful impression. We spangled it with the three crowns of Sweden more visibly pronounce the school’s Swedish profile.
The website is bright, colorful, thoughtfully structured and easy to navigate. Big images present the school and its students, with a pronounced focus on the surroundings. The neighborhoods of Barnes and Richmond are truly stunning, in that stately West London way, and we wanted that be apparent from a quick scroll.
Since the staff at the school needed to easily administer the site themselves, we pursued a modular approach when building each feature. This resulted in dynamic, easy-to-use components that can be updated in an instant.
All in all, we wanted to emphasize the outstanding quality of education and the caring environment that were so apparent when we visited the school. Balancing the playful and informative, the fun and ambitious, we created a site that communicates the spirit of SSL and establishes a vibrant future for its brand.