10 Ways to Improve Your School Website

10 ways to improve your school website

School websites are a vital necessity. But they are not a one-and-done event that you can take live and then not touch but once a year. It is a project that is well worth your time and planning. School website content management alone, done right, can save your school money and staff time, increase enrollment, and create a trustworthy reputation in your community.

So, let us help you answer the question, “How can I improve my school website?”

keep your website current

#1 Keeping web pages current

One of the most important aspects of effective school website management is that it provide current and helpful information. Your site should be a reliable resource for parents and potential parents (your customers) with accurate and timely content that they seek.

That means that it is populated with informative and entertaining news articles, up-to-date calendars, accurate staff contact information, success stories about students and staff, and any information that your parents might need.

Not sure what information parents are looking for and not finding? Ask your office staff. What questions do parents call the office and ask about? What questions are asked of teachers during parent-teacher conferences? Ensure that these answers are consistently provided on your site and save your customers a phone call or the frustration of not having the answers they need at their fingertips (literally).

creating intuitive navigation

#2 Creating intuitive navigation

The success of having an informative and helpful website includes parents and students finding the information they need quickly and easily. The golden rule of site navigation is to be able to get to the desired information within three clicks. When a school website becomes quite large, that can be very challenging to accomplish.

The solution is to categorize your navigational menus and keep the landing pages to a minimum. The solution we recommend to our schools is to add category pages for each of your target audiences and put links to the most common information each of those groups searches.

For example, create a navigational section for categories like parents, students, staff, and community. Link to the main and sub-pages that those folks seek. Sometimes, there are duplicates with your main navigation, but that is also okay.

Then, test your navigation by asking some test subjects from each group to find commonly sought-after information and see how they do. If they can’t quickly find what they are looking for, ask them to recommend what would seem like a common sense place to look for the appropriate web pages and adjust your navigation accordingly.

populating a comprehensive calendar

#3 Populating a comprehensive calendar

One of the most useful aspects of any school website for potential and existing customers is easy access to an up-to-date calendar. Parents want to have a reliable resource to check on upcoming events, athletic schedules, early release days, parent-teacher conferences, holidays, and much more.

Parents have busy and complicated schedules, and an ideal solution is to be able to integrate their children’s events and activities into their own schedules. An effective school website calendar can do that. If your school calendar can be synced with their own child’s interests, you will simplify their lives (win-win). You are also helping parents to stay involved in their child’s education and activities.

Many online calendar platforms even allow you to create groups and categories that will allow parents to receive updates for just those events or interests that pertain to their child. So, parents whose child is on the football team can receive reminders for events for upcoming games and practices while parents whose children are in the choir can receive the same. This convenience will go a long way in helping you ensure content management best practices.

If you can use a calendar platform allowing such syncing functionality, your potential customers and the current ones will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Adding custom images

#4 Adding custom images

Images can have a powerful impact on your school website, especially when combined with text. Content with relevant images receives more than 90% more views than those without them.

What is even more powerful is using photos and images that are relatable to your website’s audience. This can mean using actual photos of students, staff, events, and facilities. Of course, you must have permission to post student photos, but once that obstacle is eliminated (using permission forms at the beginning of each school term), your site will reflect your school and its culture. We all like to see images of people we know, smiling faces of students enjoying their educational experiences, or committed staff members doing what they love.

Your school website design should include high-quality photos, which are now easily obtained through the ubiquitous smartphones we all carry. Be sure they are optimized for the website for fast load times and are relevant to the content they are designed to represent.

If you must use stock photos, be sure they are royalty free so you are not infringing on copyrighted images. Just because you can right-click on an online image and download it doesn’t mean it is legal to do so. Don’t put your school in the precarious position of breaking the law.

Here’s a few more suggestions for your website photos:

  • Use candid photos over posed whenever possible.
  • Avoid visually busy images.
  • Use photos that reflect your school’s range of ages, gender, and ethnic makeup.
  • Capture emotion.
  • Use relevant images that validate the content it represents.

#5 Using success stories

One of the most effective digital marketing strategies is sharing success stories on your website and social media. Much like reviews and testimonials, these stories can validate your claims. It is one thing to assure prospective parents that you offer their students a quality education or that you care deeply for their children’s social and emotional growth, but sharing a story of such a student is the proof they seek.

Collecting and sharing success stories is the relevant content your site visitors seek. Recruit and engage your teaching staff to collect success stories you can share as part of your marketing strategy, especially on your enrollment pages. Parents and alumni are also excellent sources for such stories. Make it easy for them to submit their stories by providing a simple form on your site.

Storytelling helps to personalize your school and its culture in the minds of prospective parents and students. Influence, inspire, and engage by telling your school’s stories. To learn how to gather stories and help with story prompts, read our popular article, “Telling your school’s stories.

Online forms

#6 Using online forms

One of the most popular elements of outstanding school websites is the use of online forms. Making it simple for parents to respond to surveys, submit enrollment documents, supply required information, send in permission slips, register for classes, and so much more. By making your website their go-to resource and saving them time and effort by making everything available online, you are being considerate of parents, students, and your staff.

To find out what to include, simply ask staff (both office staff and teaching staff) what forms or information they are most often required to supply to parents or students and then make sure those forms are available for submission online.

You can also make sure these forms are secure to assure that personal information is not hacked!


#7 Collecting testimonials

We are all about sharing how we feel about companies, products, and services. In fact, we are more inclined to trust another person’s opinion or experience over traditional advertising or marketing materials. This means you must start gathering positive testimonials from parents and community members. 

Businesses do it all the time and dedicate a whole page to customer comments or make a place for them in each section. What better way to show other parents what a great school you have than to let them hear it from other parents? Hearing (or reading) a testimonial from someone with nothing to gain, always adds more credibility. 

Not sure how to gather testimonials? Check out our article on “Collecting Testimonials.” For a few more tips on the value of testimonials here are three more ideas:

#1. Consider creating video testimonials

With the availability of excellent smartphone cameras, creating an informal, effective way to attract new students and staff to your school is easy. Videos have the ability to put the viewer in the shoes of whomever they are watching and can help parents, students, or staff see themselves as successful or a good fit at your school.

A video can also tug at heartstrings and quickly get viewers emotionally involved. Much like storytelling, a video testimonial can connect with other people and lend credibility to your marketing efforts.

#2 Incorporate testimonials into social media

Use your school’s social media platforms to highlight your gathered testimonials. Link from social media testimonial quotes to the relevant pages on your website that provide related information.

For example, you can link to the enrollment pages of your website from an alumni testimonial, or link to a page describing your school’s academic curriculum from a student testimonial regarding their personal learning experience.

#3 Utilizing testimonials can improve your school’s SEO and organic traffic

The use of keywords in testimonials can be a valuable tool to help your school rank higher in search engine results so that your school can be found online.

To ensure your testimonials are the most effective for search engine optimization, as you are gathering testimonials, ask those submitting them to include the name and location of your school to improve your local SEO searches and site performance.

#8 Using a responsive design

Having a mobile-friendly or responsive website design is essential today. In some cases, more people will visit your school website from their mobile devices than from a desktop. So, it is critical that your website be responsive so that navigation is easy and intuitive for users, from any device.

Speed is key to responsive design, which begins with the mobile design and then moves to the desktop version. You’ll want to be sure that your mobile design is fast loading and easy to navigate since on a small screen, like your smartphone, too much scrolling or text too small to read will frustrate site visitors, and they will likely leave your site.

#9 Remembering your target audience needs

You have several target audience needs, including those of prospective parents and students, the engagement of current students and their parents, and possibly the recruitment of quality staff. You need to address the needs of each audience and make it easy for them to find the information they seek.

This will include dedicated support areas on your website, clearly accessible from the attractive and uncluttered home page for each audience. Here at School Webmasters, we have recommendations for this that include category navigation and enrollment areas that make addressing these needs assured.

make a good first impression

#10 Maintaining a good first impression

We all know the importance of a good first impression, so make it count. The colors, use of white space, intuitive navigation, and current information are a part of that. If your home page is cluttered and poorly laid out, you will create an impression that your school either doesn’t much care, it is unprofessional, or just isn’t very good at communication. None of those options are good.

We realize this is a complex issue and not easily handled in a paragraph or two, but we can help put the whole project together so that your first impressions are indeed impressive!

Putting it all together

With over 20 years of experience on website design and management, we are unlike any of our competitors because everything we’ve discussed previously is a part of our services. We not only give you a beautiful website design (effective use of colors, the wise use of white space, best practices for layout), but we also have professionals who’ll write the content to help you ensure current and useful information and streamlined navigation. You’ll have a mobile-friendly, ADA-compliant, professional school website, and all within six to eight weeks.

Don’t believe us? Call us at 888-750-4556 and speak with Jim, or go to SchoolWebmasters.com and click on the Request a Quote at the top of our website, and we’ll help you put it all together. We hope to hear from you! We’d love to become your school webmasters.