an ambitious online presence

Sylvan, the country’s largest independent tutoring organization, needed a comprehensive design overhaul that went well beyond refreshing their user interface.

Sylvan Learning Website Image

When Sylvan Learning first approached us, their website was more than a decade old, their back-end system was a tangle of tacked-on programs, and the company’s overall marketing messages had become inconsistent and unfocused over the years. Sylvan, the country’s largest independent tutoring organization, needed a comprehensive design overhaul that went well beyond refreshing their user interface.

We dug right in, putting the brand focus on students, streamlining back-end processes for Sylvan’s 600 franchise owners, and improving the company’s use of online data. Today, Sylvan Learning’s new national website and redesigned brand make it easier than ever for the company to reach the parents and students they aim to serve.

Students Front and Center

Sylvan is all about helping young people succeed academically and in life. We refreshed Sylvan’s brand with a look and message that would appeal to their core audience and sync with today’s shifting educational climate. Visually and conceptually, students needed to be front and center. We worked with Sylvan’s in-house team to create a system of promotional collateral that uses photographs of real kids and hand drawn-style type to reflect the company’s tagline: Learning Should Be Personal.

We used these new creative assets not only for a promotional video, marketing materials, and franchise guides, but for Sylvan’s entire online ecosystem. The new multi-layered website makes it easy for students and parents to access a wide range of material on Sylvan’s capabilities, in addition to comprehensive guides for every grade level and study subject, online learning resources, individual franchise information, and links to Sylvan’s many educational apps. The site’s responsive design means that it can be accessed for optimal viewing wherever the customer is, across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

Sylvan Learning Website Image

Franchises Behind the Scenes

Sylvan is all about its students, but the company’s vitality comes from its more than 600 individual franchise owners across the U.S. and Canada. For Real Art, that meant accommodating more than 600 different people with a stake in the design, and building the new website for 600 different site admins with 600 different ideas of what their microsite should do and say.

To accommodate franchise owners while helping them stay on-brand, Real Art completely rebuilt Sylvan’s back-end admin solution, customizing an off-the-shelf CMS to work with every possible use case and fringe scenario, all while keeping the end-user’s needs in mind. Now, every individual franchise is able to customize their own Sylvan microsite from within the system, using provided collateral and automated processes to ensure their message fits within the brand’s guidelines. The approval process for content is streamlined, and franchise owners running multiple centers are able to individually tailor a specific location’s key messages or filter the same information through multiple pages.

Sylvan Learning Website Image

Data In the Mix

While rebuilding the site’s back-end, Real Art also made it easier for Sylvan to gather and use information online. We finessed the tricky integration of three third-party data services that manage data garnered through lead generation forms and also franchise information.

Since launch, Sylvan’s conversion rate for online leads has more than doubled, SEO organic traffic is up by 15 percent, and usage of the mobile site has increased from 23 percent to 41 percent. The search-engine-optimized microsites are already seeing positive results. Franchise owners enthusiastically embraced the redesign and the company has received increased media attention and brand awareness.


With a new look, a new site, and manageable back-end tools, Sylvan Learning is able to reach more parents and students than ever before, enabling the company to help even more young people achieve their full potential.

Additional Work