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Meet The Team: Emil Willis

March 30th 2023

Emil is our Head of Creative for website solutions at Community Brands. He used to be a musician before he became a full-time designer.

We asked Emil a few questions about his design process and style, as well as his favourite projects over the years. Get to know Emil and connect with him

What’s your approach to designing a website? 

Identifying the need is my motto. There isn’t anything that me or my team cannot design, whether that be print, web or digital, but the key in great design is delivering the result your client requested. Clean composition and carefully selected typography would be my specialities, as I firmly believe the correct font can also be a key factor in how your school website is perceived. 

Can you share any top tips or hacks for a successful school website? 

One of the best tips I would give about a school website is that it has to be simple. We have to remember that we are aiming the website at potential new parents, but also current parents, so the content must be equally engaging and informative with a creative yet simple design. This allows the user to see exactly what they need when they need it. 

What’s the biggest no-no for a school website? 

The biggest no-no for a school website would be dated illustrations in the background and old news posts on a homepage. All these kinds of elements can date a website drastically. Having old news blogs gives the impression that you do not maintain or update your website, and leads prospective parents to believe that you do not use social media. Most parents have some form of social media and some will most likely check your social media account rather than check the school website, so having a social feed on your school website can effectively give you both a social presence and the latest news feature.

Illustration is an amazing art form and can look really professional when done correctly, but like many things eventually the art will age, and so will the style that it was created in. It’s important to remember that as the kids grow older, so does the design of the website. Having illustrations in the background of your website can sometimes date it quicker than it needs to. We would always suggest having nice clean photography as this is a true representation of what the school is and how enjoyable the school feels to the pupils. 

What’s your favourite school website you’ve worked on? 

One of my favourite projects would probably be Auckland College, which is an independent school in Liverpool.

Auckland College has a very unique wraparound care system for the school, and when you go there, it very much feels like one big family rather than lots of kids coming from different families. When we created the concepts for the school, a key factor was to show animated expressions from the children on how they feel about going to Auckland College.

The team went to the school and spent the day doing some amazing photography and manipulating these images to be used in a very creative way across the website. 

Read more about the Auckland College project →

I enjoyed this most of all because the best projects are the ones where the concept is agreed at the brief stage. Everyone understood what the brief was and exactly what we intended to do. It’s a great feeling for any kind of project you deliver in design. I often visit the website with a smile on my face because I remember the fun we had capturing some of the amazing photos for the website.

What your favourite feature from the Community Brands world?  

My favourite feature from Community Brands is the idea of connectivity. Products such as Community Brands websites or the Parentapps Connect app are all parts of a much bigger picture. We can create stories for each and every school by providing all of their parental engagement in one place. You may start your journey with Parentapps Connect, but you could later choose to build on that with SchoolMoney and Assembly, for example.

We offer all of the best and latest technology currently in the education sector, so there is no reason for any one institute to go anywhere else. It’s in our business name — “community” — which is what we help create and develop in schools.

Connect with Emil today on LinkedIn, or contact him and the team directly if you’re interested in working together on your own school website project.

How can we help you?

Whether you work in a school or trust of any size, a local authority or a technology provider for education, our friendly team are waiting to hear from you.

We’d love to chat about your goals and how we can support you.