Designing a Website to Attract International Students to Canada


From the beginning, Upanup’s purpose has been to make the world a better place by improving communication and interaction among individuals and organizations. That’s why our partnership with the Victoria International School Programs (VISP) – an organization that connects students from around the world through high-quality international education programs – was such a natural fit. 

Our team is excited to announce the recent launch of the Victoria International School Programs website, designed to be accessed in different languages around the world.  

With the intention of giving their website a refresh, the client came to us facing a few not-so-uncommon challenges that we tend to see when kicking off a new project. Finding information on the existing site was not an easy task— information was hidden, and navigation was not fully intuitive for users. Together, we determined that VISP’s main goal was to create an informational and promotional tool that would make their potential students think, “This is the place I want to go to school.” Victoria is a friendly, safe city with endless natural beauty, and the new website needed to showcase that. 

We can’t help but want to tell you about some of the innovative creative and technical elements featured in the new VISP website. Keep reading to learn more…

Drupal 8 Content Management System

When discovering our clients’ unique needs for a new website, our development team takes the steps necessary to determine whether Drupal 7 or 8 will be the best fit. In this case, the requirements for the new VISP website were best fulfilled through the features of Drupal 8, the most recent version of one of the world’s most popular open source content management systems. 

Check out our recent blog post to learn about key differences between Drupal 7 and Drupal 8.

Web Design for Language Accessibility

VISP targets an international audience. Therefore, language accessibility was an important consideration for this project, and we wanted to ensure that all aspects of the website – from design to build – were conducive to online language translation.

The overall website design focuses on accommodating Google Translate. Text is presented in a clean format with plenty of white space for a more seamless translation to various languages. The Translate and Search buttons are labeled with icons, rather than text alone.

A unique part of this website is the Language Pages. These pages feature brochures and application information in nine popular languages, from Spanish to Vietnamese, making it easy for international students and their parents to research academic programs in Victoria and the surrounding area.

Brand Consistency

Initially, the client found that students were unaware that VISP is part of the Greater Victoria School District. Upanup had previously partnered with the District on a multi-website solution for their 47 schools. Throughout this website redesign, our team was aware of the importance of showing a clear relationship between VISP and the District. We worked to ensure that branding was complimentary across both platforms, and also achieved this by adding a prominent District logo to the home page.


Considering Growth

The website features visually-appealing photos that were largely sourced from stock image sites. Sometimes the perception is that it is best to stay away from stock images— however, if you don’t have the resources available for a professional photographer, stock images can be carefully selected to compliment a website’s design.

Our designers were tasked with sourcing visually-appealing and brand-consistent stock images for the new website. This approach allows for a flexible website where images can be updated as the organization’s needs (and student fashions) change, without having to allocate significant funds and resources for custom, professional photos.

We love supporting organizations that educate our communities. That’s why one of our specialties is developing website solutions for our education sector clients.

Have questions or want to know more? Reach us today to discuss your next project. Our experienced designers, developers and web strategists are ready to help you take it to the next level. 

By Katrina Bellefeuille
Communications & Marketing Coordinator, Calgary
September 25th, 2018
Disclaimer: Our team members contribute to this blog in their own voices. As such, opinions expressed in this post are not necessarily shared by Upanup. If you are curious or concerned, please contact us.