Case-Study: Web Design for Lifelong Learning Abroad
Whenever I get the opportunity to work with anything having to do with France or French culture, I jump outta my seat at the chance. One, because I'm a total and complete francophile. Two, because it's France! Maybe that isn't the best reason, but oh well - I'm goin' with it.
James "Jim" Benn is the founder of Lifelong Learning Abroad - a program that offers the quintessential Parisian study-abroad program with a simple little twist: it's not for students, but instead for older folks who are wanting to experience a little bit of travel and French immersion now that, say, their kids have moved out and they're reading for new adventures!
I loved this idea and when Jim called asking for my help with the LLA website, I knew it was going to be an awesome project.
This work was one of my earlier projects, so I didn't do much branding for it. That, plus the fact that Jim already had the foundation of a Shopify website up and running but just needed some good design to make the user experience flow a bit more cohesively.
To start, I browsed around a bit on Pinterest to gather a few photos together to put me in the right mindset for creating a beautiful design for Lifelong Learning Abroad. A significant portion of the Lifelong Learning Abroad story encompasses the quintessential experience that is the experience of visiting Paris, so I got to "work" daydreaming about that.
We're talking views of the Eiffel Tower glimmering every hour on the hour as soon as the sun starts to set. Strolling down the sidewalk in search of a fresh, warm baguette to enjoy with your morning espresso and the latest edition of Le Monde. Sitting at an outside table at a cozy Parisian cafe as you watch the comings and goings of attractive Parisians living their daily lives. Taking a French class at the Alliance Française or a painting class at a nearby atelier to enrich your cultural skills (or just to do something that others would describe as très cultured). Meandering along the Seine River, constantly in awe and wondering how you got so lucky to be here, in Paris, at this very moment.
At a certain point, I had to wake myself up from this dreamy reverie and really get to work.
I wanted to be sure to keep all of this in mind as I handled the design of the LLA website. The best way to reach your ideal client is to really get inside their mind and speak to what they're most likely thinking or feeling. Jim covered the copywriting, so I wanted to be sure to tell this story as best as I could through design.
As mentioned before, this website was built using Shopify. Now, while my preferred medium is Squarespace - it was great to be able to learn more and get some experience with the platform.
From what I experienced, Squarespace is definitely a lot more user-friendly (especially for people who aren't planning on using custom code for their sites) whereas Shopify is not as flexible unless someone's fairly comfortable dipping into the CSS of the backend.
Regardless, the Shopify customer service is awesome and 100% helpful (as is that of Squarespace!).
For the study abroad program - which includes French classes (and cooking and painting classes, as well), housing in private Parisian apartments, group excursions to insider spots around Paris, and more - Jim offers different packages depending on who's applying.
There's an option for couples who wish to do the program together, complete with a cozy Parisian studio. There's an option for friends who embark on their French adventure together, complete with a 2-bedroom apartment and shared space. There's an option for those traveling alone. And the list goes on.
All in all, this website was fun to design and challenged my skills using a new web platform (Shopify), and it really brought me back to my first experiences of the City of Light - and the sheer spark of magic that ignites the soul whenever we find ourselves there.
To visit the Lifelong Learning Abroad website in its present-day light, head over to www.lifelonglearningabroad.com!
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