It doesn’t matter if you click on a website belonging to a car dealership, a restaurant, or even a candle shop. The reality is that you’ll quickly form an opinion about them based on how their website looks and feels.
The same logic applies when parents visit your school’s website. But it’s not just about first impressions.
Your website is a significant point of contact for parents to get more information about your school and find out what sets you apart from other options in the area. It’s also the perfect platform to share news, lunch menus, summer programs, and upcoming events.
In other words, it’s an essential tool to keep current and prospective parents satisfied. Therefore, it’s no surprise that many schools invest resources in improving their website design. However, if you’re new to this, you’ll need a set of tools and tips to get started.
Let’s get started.
Why Even Set Up a School Website?
Before we get into the actual website design, let’s see why you need a website in the first place. Well, a website:
#1 Brings Your School & Audience Together
By developing a fully functional website, you can help your school reach a wide range of people. Additionally, you’re integrating into internet communities; Many schools already have websites and are using them to build a solid online presence.
So when you create a website, you blend into a large online community that showcases your school to potential parents and students. Given the fierce competition for eyeballs, you can use your SEO-friendly website to put your school high in Google rankings and gain significant traffic.
A solid social media presence is fantastic, but with a top-rated school website, you can reach the maximum number of potential students.
#2 Elevates Your Branding Game
Whether you run a fashion store, a sandwich shop, or a school, branding is key to your success, as it may be the only way to stand out from the crowd and introduce your school as the right choice. While many elements go into building a successful brand, your school’s website is the primary tool in the shed.
Branding can help establish a foundation of trust between you and prospective parents that can’t be achieved in any other way. If you can’t convince parents that your school is the answer to their problems, they won’t shortlist you.
So, it’s not surprising that many schools hire experienced website service providers with a long track record in school branding.
#3 Gives You an Edge
Popularity doesn’t come by chance. It’s the result of presenting your school and its unique vibe, services, and facilities. Beating the competition is about figuring out what others do and how you can outperform your rivals.
Your school may have the upper hand in many ways, but no one will notice it if you don’t have an appropriate medium to promote it.
A professional online presence via your school website will help you easily connect with potential students while saving time. You can highlight every detail that can serve as a selling point on your website, including your services, features, extra-curricular programs, your mission, and more.
Most schools use their websites to promote their academic offerings, student programs, and extracurricular activities to attract parents’ attention. Most parents look for these qualities in a school while researching it.
#4 Boosts Your Credibility
Aside from your services and achievements, your school website is critical to your institution’s credibility. We’re not suggesting that your school isn’t reputable if it doesn’t have a website.
However, a number of variables are considered when evaluating your institution’s credibility, including your official website.
With a website, you can showcase any specific aspect of your school offerings, such as the academic achievements of your students, your school programs, and more. You can set up a separate gallery on the website with pictures of your classrooms, auditorium, playground, and other places.
You can discuss your school’s history, notable achievements, origins, departments, and much more on this page. The more services you can offer on your website, the easier it’ll be for people to trust you.
You can quickly compile a list of commonly asked questions at your school and post the answers on your website. This way, you can reduce the extra work that both your parents and your school must do.
Make sure your website prominently displays your location, your school contact information, and your complete address.
#5 Keeps Parents & Students Updated
Yes, the website you develop will serve as a communication tool. You can share details about significant events or announcements on a school website. Most educational institutions and schools have a specific website that provides this information. However, if your school doesn’t have a website, you can hire a website service provider to take care of the rest.
This information can include upcoming events, exam schedules, and other things. If your school website is fully functional, parents and students can quickly access this information by clicking and visiting your school website.
Emails and phone calls are among the most effective methods of sharing this information, but more often than not, parents either ignore the call or don’t read the email. You can guarantee that you have exerted your best efforts to make sure parents and students receive this information by posting it to your website.
School Website Design: Basics
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of having a school website, we should get to work. First, let’s cover the fundamental things you need in web design.
Identify the Target Audience
Try to determine the requirements for your website before you start developing it. Think about who will visit your site, not how many different pages you want to have. Do you believe a five-year-old is going to Google you to find out what exciting activities they can do during playtime?
No, maybe, but most likely not. Parents are the ones using your websites. Parents who want to find out if your school might be a suitable fit for their kids or who are curious about what their kids do in your after-school program.
It will be easier to decide what to put on your website if you can define your users’ needs.
Once you have identified the target users, we can consider what they are looking for when they visit your website. Parents will be interested in learning more about your school, your teachers, and your principles.
They might also want to know about your curriculum, policies, and maybe even the types of nutritious meals you serve their kids. When you know the parent’s perspective, it’s easier to create a great user experience that can help you choose content for your website.
Showcase Your School Values & Facilities
Websites are now one of the essential stops for prospective parents considering sending their kids to school. They are a valuable source of information and can even give parents their first impression of your school.
Therefore, the website’s design and content must represent the appropriate values and ideas. This way, your school can show what makes it unique and stand out from the other schools.
Even if increasing student enrollment is not the goal, a good school website must represent the school’s beliefs and ideas. Ideally, current parents will visit a school’s website regularly and help spread the news quickly.
When parents regularly interact with the school website, the school can spend less on costly communication efforts such as online ads, announcements, or bulk emails. However, this is only possible if parents enjoy using the website and feel it fits the school’s values.
Define Your Goals
It’s crucial to note that not all schools share the same goals; therefore, not all school websites will work towards the same objectives. In other words, each school may pursue a different outcome by investing time and money in web design.
These goals will determine the website design, communication, and overall experience. For instance, important news and updates need to appear at the top of the homepage to improve engagement with existing parents. On the other hand, the school’s facilities, principles, and services need to be more prominent to increase student enrollment.
You should consider both current and prospective parents when designing your school website, but there must be one main priority when creating your website.
Navigation is Key to the User Experience
One of the most critical indicators of a strong website is the ability to provide a positive user experience to visitors. That’s extremely hard to achieve (if not impossible) when you have a cluttered website with broken links, confusing sections, and heavy graphics that take forever to load.
A good school website should make it easy for students to find the information they need.
Imagine someone having trouble finding what they are looking for quickly. In such a situation, they will likely get frustrated, leading to a bad experience as users leave the website without reaching their intended goal.
Using category quick links, avoiding heavy graphics, improving loading time, and many other elements can make navigation effortless for visitors.
Make it Mobile-Friendly
We all live in a time when people use their phones to read books, communicate with others, watch movies, shop online, and even get dates! So, what makes you think they won’t use it to get more information about your school?
In 2022, almost %59 of all the global website traffic came from mobile connections, making smartphone users a vital part of your audience (and this continues to grow). So, it’s safe to say that without a responsive website design, you’re practically branding yourself as an amateur school that’s way behind the times and far out of touch with reality.
What to Put on Your School Website
It’s time to mention the elements that make a great school website. Here are some tips:
Provide Engaging & Relevant Content
Part of a successful school website is filling it with fresh, quality content. No school needs to create a masterpiece; just something easy to understand, essential, and constructive will do. With the help of a website service provider with content creation experience, you can easily accomplish this.
Also, remember that content is not just text. You must complement your website articles and social media posts with eye-catching videos and photos. You can also use videos and pictures without text because nothing can convey the school vibe like a clever promotional video or an impressive hero image on the homepage.
Give People What They Want
You can use your website to present yourself as a reliable source of information and boost your SEO ranking.
As you provide up-to-date information on various topics essential to parents and students, they will spend more time on the school website, and other websites may even link to your articles, establishing you as an authority in the field.
The question is, however, how do you know what users want? In other words: how do you know what they are looking for online? Using the keyword search feature in Google Analytics, you can identify the main keywords your audience is using to learn more about schools.
This allows you to create articles and videos around those topics and even include the terms in your existing posts.
Keep Information Up to Date and Concise
You should provide families and parents easy access to all the information they need in one convenient location.
For example, you can use a scrolling banner to ensure parents don’t miss vital news and updates. It’s also critical to keep your school’s calendar and newsfeed updated. This will encourage students to visit this page regularly to learn about upcoming events.
You can also upload the weekly newsletter to the website and give parents the link, which is faster and easier than emailing it. This way, the information on your website will stay current, and the number of messages and calls to the school will be drastically reduced, saving your staff a lot of work.
Avoid long paragraphs for simple, informative items like school schedules or lunch menus on your school website. You should also incorporate headings, tables, and graphics to break up long articles, such as policy statements, so readers can quickly jump to the section they want.
We advise you to clean up your school website from time to time, as too much content can be confusing and off-putting to users. You can improve the user experience by evaluating the existing content and keeping the most-relevant and most-viewed information.
Social Media Updates
When you want to build a website for your school, you need to make the most of it. That means you should have a solid social media presence, and people should be talking about your website. Some users may be discussing your services; others may be praising an event that recently occurred at your school.
In addition, your article may have caught the attention of many people who are commenting on your social network pages. You can showcase all of these comments on the school website by creating a dedicated social media feed segment that displays every single positive comment made by users. Including these elements on your website will attract more visitors and improve your brand’s image.
Use Captivating Videos
Text has been the most adaptable and successful way to convey information and capture the attention of a website’s visitors.
However, in recent years, video has gained popularity and is probably the most powerful medium for delivering information and attracting more website traffic.
Nowadays, users prefer to engage with video content rather than textual material, as video content provides the same amount of data in a shorter time. Short clips that promote little aspects of the school are essential for your website.
By providing engaging videos about your institution, you ensure that viewers can interact with your material and learn more about your offerings and achievements.
You can develop and distribute any type of video that showcases your school’s vibe, services, accomplishments, and more.
Include a School Calendar
In addition to videos, set up a calendar on your website that gives parents access to information such as deadlines and upcoming events. Most school websites create a dedicated page for their calendar or incorporate a small column on the website.
A well-organized calendar on your website makes it easy for visitors to get all the information they need while relaxing at home. Emails and phone calls are no longer the only way to get this information.
Now that schools can display this information on their website, they can easily share it with students and parents. Integrating these features into the school website helps front desk staff save time.
If you hire a highly qualified company to design your website, you do not have to worry about these features because they will make sure that the website includes every little innovative element that will make your website more appealing and attract visitors’ attention.
Schools create and offer an appealing website because it helps potential students learn more about the school and its history. To do this, however, you need to develop and provide a well-thought-out “About Us” page because that’s the page where you talk about your mission, faculty, and staff.
In other words, this is where you can portray the character of your school. The “About Us” page is where you can lay out your beliefs and principles as well as your accomplishments, ambitions, and unique selling points—the things that set your school apart from others.
All parents want to know everything about a school before making a decision. The “About Us” page could reflect poorly on your website and your school if it does not appeal to visitors or give them the information they want.
Even worse, visitors will likely be confused without such a page and leave the site disappointed.
Save Time with an FAQ Page
If you have been running your school for a while, you probably know that parents considering sending their children to your school initially have many questions for your staff and administration.
The funny thing is that most parents ask the same questions. So why not use the website to answer them all at once and save your staff many phone calls? Yes, you may have already answered many questions in the appropriate sections, but people may not want to visit and read through every page to get all the answers.
Make it simple. Put the most popular questions on the “FAQ page” so users can get the information they need as quickly as possible. It’s even easier for your school because you can easily update the Qs based on the questions you receive from prospective parents. That will encourage them to interact more and more with your website.
Incorporate Your Newsletter
Most schools use their website simply as a tool to provide reasonably accurate information. Remember, however, that the website can serve other purposes as well.
If your school publishes a newsletter, you could include it on your website to make it more exciting and interactive. If your school publishes this type of newsletter anyway, it’s always a good idea to post it on your website.
Yes, like most schools, you can also email newsletters. But why stop there? Why not create a dedicated section on your website to make it easier to access? This will bring in more visitors and give them access to previous newsletters.
Every website needs a contact form or a viable email address so that site visitors can contact you with any questions.
When it comes to school websites, the contact information, whether a form or a reliable email address to a dedicated staff member, is vital in allowing people to contact the school. Even if your website may contain an FAQ section, a visitor may still have several questions about your school.
By including a contact form on you’re website, you can make sure people can get in touch with your school and get the information they need.
You may include a part in your contact form where people can ask questions so that your institution can get back to them with the appropriate response. Utilizing the form, you can make contact even easier and save time by allowing users to select the respective department.
First impressions are key but also may be unfair. Your school may have a lot of qualities that other competitors in the area cannot match. But, parents may never find out about them and only judge your school by the looks of your website.
If they’re staring at a sloppy homepage with articles that haven’t been updated in the last month, they’ll most likely close the page and head to the next school website. If it’s a clutter-free website with simple navigation and up-to-date information, they’ll definitely spend more time browsing and getting to understand how your school can solve their challenges.
You want the second scenario. If you’re unsure you have the appropriate resources at your school to take on the challenge, hire a reliable website service provider. When you don’t have the extra time, staff, or budget to find what works and what doesn’t for your website, we can help.