If anybody in Indianapolis is resting on their laurels – it’s not the passionate staff and ambitious students at Indianapolis Classical Schools (ICS). The parent district of nationally-ranked public charter Herron High School and upstart Riverside High School, ICS wears their success on their sleeve – from college choice pennants decorating hallway walls, to this year’s Riverside fundraising campaign to renovate of Heslar Naval Armory, a National Historic Register site.
With two schools, a growing number of sports teams, and an incredible amount of student-led extracurriculars – ICS partnered with SmallBox to update and expand their branding and create a new system of websites to showcase the incredible student life experiences at both their urban campuses, while reflecting the energy, drive, and people that make each so vibrant and unique.
Our co-design process included ICS stakeholders for collaborative website planning, student interviews, and even building tours. Our research also informed an expanded brand identity for each school – from photography & imagery planning, expanded color palettes, collateral like business cards and presentation templates, and even icon & texture styles (yes, the plaid is iconic!).
The new website design provides a more visual, streamlined experience that doesn’t just emphasize the quality of an ICS education, but brings the student experience front and center, and makes it simple for parents and families to enroll, give, or get the information they need. And, ICS needed their daily updates to be clutter-free while allowing quick access to news, calendars, announcements, and special alerts.
Our interviews with Herron students were inspirational – from giving tours to governors, mayors, and visiting dignitaries, to founding clubs, teams, and activities driven by the student body, to the pride and respect they show everyone who walks through their doors. Their collective ambition, vision, and energy inspired a site that would embrace their personalities and accomplishments.
Opening a second school based on this model became a reality in 2017. Riverside High School shares the same DNA with Herron – values, executive leadership, vision, and a classical, college-prep education model. By forming the Indianapolis Classical Schools (ICS) network, ICS plans to open additional schools, and needed page templates and designs that could be quickly customized with branding, colors, and content unique to a new school.
The addition of Riverside High School to Indianapolis Classical Schools presented some challenges in dove-tailing our communications strategy with that of the more well-established Herron High School. SmallBox worked closely with us to design beautifully matching yet independent sites for our schools and remains attentive to our needs as we add new users to our growing team.
– SHANNON DAWSON, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS, INDIANAPOLIS CLASSICAL SCHOOLS
To make the grade and set ICS up for continued growth, we used a combination of WPEngine staging services and WordPress custom-designed content management system (CMS) instances to create a template for quickly rolling out a new, individualized school website. Visually, the sites work well together, but allow individual schools to have customized colors, buttons, logos, and imagery that give each their own identity. And – all feature a global header that allows users (especially prospective parents) to navigate between the school system and individual schools with a single click.