July 2016 update: Little Earth Montessori has since been sold and now has a new website (not our design). What you’ll see below is what they had from 2014-mid 2016, which is no longer live.
Little Earth Montessori is an enviro nature early childhood center based on the beautiful Kapiti Coast, New Zealand. The school prides itself on providing nurturing the child’s hand, heart and mind, in a beautiful harmonious environment, following the child as initiator of their own, lifelong learning. As a center for children ages 3 – 6, students are constantly coming and going, meaning that the school must continue attracting new students and marketing the school to potential parents.
Operating on a website that was built in 2009, Anja from Little Earth knew it was time for a facelift of their online presence. With increasing competition in the area, they wanted a new website that helped market the school to potential parents The brief was to create a website that was easy to navigate, and assist in onboarding new parents and communicate the benefits of the school. To put it in her words “I wanted a simple, uncluttered design, that was beautiful in its simplicity”.
The original website was not only aesthetically out of date, but lacked hierarchy, was difficult to navigate and didn’t quite communicate best what the value of Little Earth are. Another major pitfall of the old site was that it wasn’t responsive.
Research and existing brand guidelines
We began by familiarising ourselves with the existing brand of Little Earth. We wanted to make sure that the new website complimented the existing brand well by utilising existing branding guidelines, brand voice and styles. Once familiar with the brand, we began researching some potential directions for the aesthetic of the website. We explored other educational websites to explore what works well and what doesn’t, and made a wish list of features, aesthetic or ideas that we thought we may be able to pull into this project.
Hierarchy and Order
The ideation process included exploring several layouts and forms of hierarchy. We wanted a consistent layout style to evoke a sense of familiarity when navigating the website. As Little Earth is known for their ideology of beauty and a natural environment, we decided to use large hero images with calming, beautiful photos to help communicate the core essence of the school.
As the old website was built on WordPress, we decided to stick to WordPress for the new website. This made handover easy as they were already familiar with how to use the Content Management System.
We also connected the website to Google Analytics, so Anja could see how the new site was tracking including what the main referrals were and how many prospective parents were viewing the enrolment pack.
In today’s digital age, Anja knew that having just a desktop website wasn’t enough. With the majority of parents now being ‘Gen Y’, having a website that was responsive was one of the major requirements. The mobile version holds all the same content but is slightly simplified, creating more breathing space on a small screen.
The final design resulted in a complete visual overhaul of Little Earth’s online presence. We introduced a blog area, highlighted the staff in a new ‘Team’ section and brought structure and hierarchy throughout the design.
Director of Little Earth Montessori
All the help and support both Femke and Owen have given me was fantastic. The website is simple, beautiful and functional and it works for my clients as well as for me when keeping it up to date with minimal time available.