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Early Years Nursery

Creating a more compelling site to attract new parents
 

 

IN A NUTSHELL
 

Over a 2 week period, I was able to go from research to design and build a new responsive site for Early Years Nursery School to help improve lead generation.

 

 

 

THE FULL STORY
 

THE BRIEF

Early Years Nursery School is an independent nursery based in Manchester. Since opening 25 years ago, they've relied on worth of mouth to drive business. However in the digital age, awareness amongst parents was low. The brief was to create a new mobile responsive site which reflected the nursery’s values and drove new customer enquires.

 

RESEARCH

SITE AUDIT

An audit of the current site revealed several issues that needed addressing:

  • It was slow with lots of low quality heavy images
  • It was in a blog format which hadn’t been updated for a year leaving a poor impression that they didn’t care
  • The standard wordpress template didn't reflect the nursery's unique personality
  • Previous site was desktop only and was not showing up in Google search results on mobile
Screenshot of old nursery website
Above: Screenshot of the old nursery site

 

 

FEATURE ANALYSIS

A feature analysis on local competitors revealed the conventions for nursery sites and helped identify opportunities where Early Years could stand out.

Screenshot of old nursery website
Above: Part of the feature analysis of the nursery's local competitors

CUSTOMER INSIGHTS

To understand what's important for parents when choosing a nursery, I collected insights by:

  • interviewing parents
  • reviewing feedback from customers left online and in the nursery's feedback book
  • reviewing parents conversations in communities like mumsnet

The following themes emerged which would help me generate site content:

 

Having experienced staff matters

Concerns around going to a nursery with really young staff. They wanted the reassurance that working in a nursery is their true vocation rather than them doing it because they can’t do anything else.

“I worried that  many (nurseries) were staffed by well meaning young girls on a minimum wage studying for an NVQ. Early Years is the complete opposite... most importantly for us they have experience and know how to speak to children.”

Parent comment on netmums, a parent community.

 

Balancing education with experience

Need to get the right balance between focussing on prepping kids for school vs. having fun while they still could. Everyone wanted a well rounded person and so promoting the nursery's extra curricular activities like Spanish class was going to be important.

 

Pricing

Parents wanted nurseries to be transparent with their pricing

 

Other areas of importance
  • Looks out for Oftsed rating but doesn’t read the report
  • Want to understand what the facilities are like
Photo of interview with parents
Above: Interview with parents to understand what's important when choosing nurseries

 

DESIGN

CONTENT

Taking a content-first approach, I created a narrative that addressed users' key concerns that I'd identified. The idea was to get parents to buy into the nursery’s philosophy and approach and showcase the staff's experience which the research had highlighted was important. Then we get into the detail with the activities section providing proof points to the philosophy of creating well-rounded individuals, and lastly I included more practical info e.g. opening times, contact details.

Unlike the competition, we decided to show prices on the site as we knew from the research that this transparency would help build trust.

Once the base content had been written, I made further refinements to incorporate SEO and tone of voice considerations. For example, to ensure the nursery was being positioned as down to earth, I changed 'Testimonials' to 'What our parents say' and changed 'Our Staff' to 'Our Family'.

WIREFRAMES

With limited time and budget, I decided early on to use a bootstrap responsive grid so quickly sketched out the mobile wireframes and versions for tablet/ desktop based on the approved copy doc.

Initial sketch for the list view
Above: Wireframe sketch for the Pricing section
Initial sketch for the map view
Above: Wireframe sketch of the top section on mobile

VISUAL DESIGN

I developed a brand personality diagram following an interview with the client and reviewing the personalities that were being conveyed by competitors.

brand personality diagram
Above: Brand personality diagram

 

Next, I put together a moodboard with some inspiration as to how I could visually communicate this personality. I felt the hand drawn approach through paint strokes and type could help represent the warm, homely environment of the nursery.

moodboard
Above: Moodboard showing my inspiration for the design treatment

 

Now I was inspired and ready to create the design elements for the site. I chose the yellow for its upbeat and energeric properties, which accurately reflects what it's like to be in the nursery. After researching several fonts, I settled on the hand drawn font 'Amatic' for the titles and 'Muli' for body copy because it's clean, modern and light nature contrasts well with the titles and is easy to read. In keeping with the home-made feel, I created my own speech mark and hamburger using illustrator.

user flow through the SafeSpace app
Above: Final version of the style tile which shows the chosen design elements

 

 

BUILD

I built the site using html, css and jquery using Bootstap for the responsive grid.

 

results and conclusion

The site redesign dramatically improved engagement with time on site going from 1 min 30 secs to over 4 mins post-redesign. Also, by making the site SEO friendly, traffic via organic search rose by 47% (Apr 2014-Sept 2014 vs. April 2015-Sept 2015).

In the future, the very positive reviews from parents could be made more powerful through photos of parents or videos. Also, a gallery of photos showcasing the facilities would be beneficial as this is something the research revealed was important for parents.

Shot of nursery site on mobile and laptop