It is always enjoyable for us working with people and organisations who want to embrace digital and challenge the way we all use it. Having provided Edgbaston High School for Girls with work around their brand, print prospectus and website re-design, we recently worked with the school on extending its digital presence to include an app. Freshly launched, the project has been a great success and we spoke with Annelle Rowlands, the school's Head of Marketing & Development, about the importance of digital future-proofing, and staying one step ahead of the competition.
Redwing: For Edgbaston High, what is the most important thing in a website?
Annelle Rowlands: First and foremost, our website has to be an enhancement and extension of our brand. Obviously, we need our new website to deliver a high level of functionality and to be user-friendly, but also to be future-proof so that we can react to developments in technology as they happen.
RW: You now also have an app - why was that important to you as a school?
AR: We pride ourselves on having a constant, open dialogue with parents so anything that enables smooth communication and strong customer service with them, the pupils and other stakeholders is a real priority for us. Many of our parents need access to information outside of school opening hours, either because they live abroad or lead extremely busy lives, and the app allows them to quickly and easily find what they need, and interact with the school around the clock.
The educational environment in Birmingham and the West Midlands is very competitive and we want to lead in this area. We integrate technology throughout the school, including in lessons, so parents expect it.
RW: How has the requirement around digital platforms changed for you over the past 5-10 years?
AR: The biggest change is probably that mobile access to our digital platforms has overtaken desktop access, so the digital platforms have to reflect that. These days, parents expect to be able to register their children for things and make school-related payments and bookings not only online but on their phones, so staying one step ahead of that demand and making it possible has been a key driver for us.
Digital marketing and advertising also now delivers immediate reach, higher traction and is often more cost-effective, so in a promotional sense it’s important to have a digital strategy sitting alongside the more traditional marketing framework.
RW: How did you come to your decisions in terms of design and layout?
AR: Using what we had before as a line in the sand, we provided Redwing with a project brief and had various meetings. Their Project Manager/Creative Director also took the time to visit the school for an open day to get an even better sense of the school, which helped them deliver several design propositions and we went for the one you see online now.
RW: As a school, what is the role of a digital agency in helping you achieve what you need?
AR: For me, having a digital agency on board represents an extension of the marketing team - experts in the field who are able to keep up with new technologies and industry trends where we cannot. It has always been an advantage to us that Redwing know EHS so well, and have the ability to work across all the various areas. Having delivered successful projects for us in the past for prospectus design and print and also the previous website, they are perfectly placed to help us extend our offering with the app.
Redwing have always been incredibly responsive to our changing needs and happy to provide advice where needed. They are a complete sounding board for any new projects and their expertise means they can help the school to deliver the asset, contributing advice and direction where necessary.
RW: What are the next steps for developing your digital platforms?
AR: We’re looking forward to making enhancements to the website to include a greater emphasis on video footage, and also more use of online data capture forms. The subject of eCommerce is always on the agenda too and there again it’s great that Redwing have done so much already in that space. We’re constantly looking to move things forward.