A website is an excellent digital tool for schools to showcase their academic qualities in front of the entire community. Schools can provide up-to-date information about admissions requirements, offline and online courses, student academic achievement, and upcoming events.
Students can also apply for admission, select courses, check their academic progress, and so on from the comfort of their own homes. A school website lets teachers share their knowledge with a global audience.
But that’s not all. An informative school website can significantly promote the school brand, highlight special offers, and present the whole school vibe to potential students and parents.
However, all of that requires a reliable school website design, which you can achieve with the following ten steps.
#1 Define the purpose
We’re not talking about a grand mission here—just the purpose your school website should serve. Determining the goal of your school website will reveal how many features you need.
For example, is your website a one-way communication tool where you only post announcements? Or is it a platform where you can effectively run PR? No single design is perfect for every application. You must figure out what you need and design the elements to meet those needs.
If you’re struggling to find the exact answer, take a look at your school’s mission statement. Perhaps your school wants to create an inclusive environment that excels at welcoming students from low-income families. In this case, you should highlight affordability and various financial aid options throughout the website. You can also make the website compatible with less expensive phones because not every student has the latest iOS or Android system.
#2 Keep it neat
Whether it’s classroom design, lab design, or your school website, a clean design always works best. Gone are the days when a website was crammed with too much information, clip-art graphics, animated GIFs, and numerous videos. In today’s world, such clutter only distracts visitors, makes it hard for them to find the data, uses precious cell data, and forces your visitors to leave your school website.
In our fast-paced world, you only have a few seconds to grab your site visitor’s attention, and the overall design plays a significant role here.
On any modern website, there is white space between the various elements that serve to highlight specific information, organize the content, and help users easily see the “big picture.” Make sure there is enough white space on your website but not too much—you still want great, relevant content on the website. Just minimize extravagant graphics and “fluffy” text.
Colors & fonts
Whether it’s school branding or website design, you need to choose colors and fonts that fit your identity and look appealing on the website. Decide on two or three branding fonts and colors, and incorporate them into your website. Consistency is the key.
People hate the confusion and the feeling of being lost. Parents or students come to your school with a specific purpose: to get information. They should be able to find the information on your school website quickly. You can guide them to important pages like enrollment forms and curriculum details using a navigation menu.
You can even go a step further and divide the navigation menu into specific sections for students, teachers, parents, and staff, so they can find relevant information for their particular needs.
#3 The homepage can help
A well-designed homepage can give the user access to click on links or internal pages without having to do too much scrolling. A homepage should certainly be visually appealing, but if students spend a lot of time alone on the homepage, they’ll probably get lost.
You can avoid this scenario with these tips:
Remember that you’re developing a school website in 2022, not a MySpace page in 2006, so keep the site uncluttered, and offer only information appropriate for your particular audience. The homepage should be easy to read and provide parents or students with the necessary information.
Use links to bypass several pages
Incorporating quick links in your content is vital to optimizing the navigation experience because when users read something that piques their interest, they can just click on the hyperlink to land on the relevant page. That way, they won’t have to go from one page to another trying to find the relevant content.
Make calendars and news visible & up-to-date
Many visitors come to your website to get the latest school updates or to find out about your school’s upcoming events. So make sure that the “Calendar” and “News” sections are visible on the website homepage, with the latest news about your school.
#4 Mobile-friendliness is everything
You already know that this is the era of smartphones. 20% of millennials use their phones exclusively to go online, and 78% of Gen Z kids consider smartphones their primary connecting device.
The website plays a huge role in people’s first impression of your school, and an unresponsive design shows them that you run an amateur operation. A mobile-friendly design allows users to easily read text, watch videos, and fill out forms on a desktop computer, tablet, and smartphone. Website pages are automatically reformatted, so visitors don’t have to zoom endlessly.
This is also important for your social media strategy, which we’ll discuss below.
#5 Consider your message & brand
In terms of marketing, you need to think about your school’s branding and make sure it’s consistent and unique across all platforms. Whether it’s the school website, social media channels, or just a logo design, be sure to consider two key factors:
Suppose some parents and talented students visit your website and enroll in your school. What are their goals and challenges? Use this information to create a student/parent profile, and align your message and content with those goals and concerns. This will appeal to a large portion of potential students or parents who are considering enrolling but have not yet taken the final step.
As mentioned earlier, be sure to use a limited number of colors that match your school’s brand image. In most cases, the colors on the school website are the same as those on the logo. The same logic applies to fonts. Use a handful of font styles for the entire website, allowing visitors to easily identify these colors and fonts with your school. Also, make sure that the colors and fonts have a similar feel.
#6 Everybody loves pictures
When it comes to engaging students and showcasing your campus vibe, a picture is much more powerful than a simple text block. This is only natural, as the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. Think about dating websites, where profiles without images are unlikely to attract interest. Now, we know you are not a dating website, but the same content applies. (You do want your community to fall in love with you, don’t you?)
You already know the power of visuals in website design and marketing efforts. You’ll want to use certain tips to harness this power and captivate visitors and invite them to stay and enjoy your school website:
Avoid generic stock photos
Users gain virtually little value from generic stock images. Instead, showcase your school’s accomplishments with high-quality photos of the campus, classes, and students. Current students will be delighted to see themselves on the school website, and potential students will be able to imagine themselves already at your school.
Know where to place them
First, make sure that any image you choose is related to the topic. You can then use graphics to break up the content and keep visitors interested. A system with front-end editing features makes it easy to tweak your design and position these pieces in a visually appealing way.
Use a carousel
If you have a lot of images on each page, include an image carousel that rotates through your photos. This contributes to a clean, minimalist style and keeps your pages from looking cluttered.
Use pictures in events pages
If your school has a “Support Us” or “Fundraising” page or holds special or regular events, you have an excellent opportunity to use images. Include eye-catching images to show people why they are donating to your school, participating in the school events, or are happy to be attending or enrolling in your school. Photos, when used effectively, can be a game changer for the school website. Take the time to plan your strategy. It will be worth it in the long run.
#7 Make it Google-friendly
Google’s algorithms take into account a variety of ranking metrics, but focusing on the basics can put you at the top of the list in a parent or student search for a specific type of school.
By providing a great user experience, you’ll get closer to your goals. Your school’s website should have a clean, simple, and effective design. Be sure to include specific keywords you want visitors to find on the site. Fill in all the meta tags and meta descriptions. Most reputable website providers offer this feature.
Monitor loading speed, possible broken links, and anything else that makes the browsing experience frustrating. Without proper monitoring, improvement is not possible. Check if the school website includes built-in analytics or if you can add Google Analytics (free). If you use Google Analytics, have an expert help you set up the correct filters so you do not count bot traffic or traffic from untrusted sources that could create misleading impressions.
#8 Focus particularly on high-visit pages
The school calendar and news page aren’t the only things to consider. You need to focus more on specific pages that get a lot of views. You can use Google Analytics to determine which pages get the most views. However, in most cases, the following pages are the most popular pages on a school website:
Make it easy for anyone to find your school’s Contact Us page. Many schools unnecessarily bury their contact information deep inside the website or way down in the footer, making their site visitors scroll and scroll to the bottom of the page to find it. Yet there is a simple solution to this problem, and that’s to feature the Contact Us page on the homepage. Make sure you provide a contact form and keep the details up to date (update them when staff members leave or take on new roles).
Do parents and students often ask the same questions? Maybe they just can’t find the information they need on your website, or they were pressed for time and did not want to read the whole page to find the answer to their problem. With an up-to-date FAQ page, parents can quickly and easily access the necessary information, and school staff will not be constantly bombarded with repeated questions. A real win-win situation!
Parents and students should be able to find teacher profiles to learn more about their backgrounds and qualifications. This is also where you can promote your school brand by showcasing the expertise of your valuable teachers. After all, a school is only as good as its teachers. Be sure to use high-quality profile pictures. You could even include a short, eye-catching introduction clip.
#9 Social media buttons
Social media is a great place to share encouraging videos, eye-catching images, important news, and anything else that interests teachers, students, and users. Your school’s social media can be a powerful tool to show potential students, parents, and teachers that this is the place to be. Social media buttons need to be visible on the website to attract more users to those platforms.
Although many schools currently use their websites to distribute information, social media offers up a whole new realm of possibilities. Since postings are often real-time, schools can interact with students and parents rapidly and effectively.
This might contain up-to-date information about upcoming events, current activities at the school, or recent announcements. This is a significant benefit since it allows you to test a concept in your community before spending significant resources.
Social media platforms may also be utilized as active teaching tools to help students learn more effectively. These digital platforms may be used by teachers to post training videos, homework, and other classroom resources. Videos of prior meetings and talks may also be posted to keep parents up to date on current issues and school policies.
#10 Accessibility is key
Make sure your website is accessible to all users if you want to reach more potential students. This includes complying with website accessibility requirements so that people with disabilities can read and use your school’s website.
Section 508 and WCAG 2.1 are the two typical requirements for accessible school websites. Both have comparable standards, many of which overlap. Your school can choose which standards to use, but many schools have chosen WCAG 2.1. Decide which standards you want to use, and then share them with everyone responsible for managing your school website’s content.
Although you can do a lot to improve accessibility yourself, you will, most likely, need a professional website service provider to ensure complete content accessibility. The following tips can help you improve the accessibility of your school website.
Use Alt Texts
The alternative text describes an image placed on the website, usually with a sentence or phrase. It is a sentence or phrase added to the HTML code of an image that specifies the appearance and purpose of an image on a page. Clear, unambiguous alternative text allows visually impaired users to understand what the picture is about and how it works. The text is displayed even if the image cannot be loaded.
Videos don’t support alt text like photos. Therefore, you need to provide other alternatives to people with hearing or visual impairments. For example, you could create a transcript and make it accessible via a link to another web page or as an additional document. You could also include an audio track that describes the video. To ensure readers and audio listeners can read all the controls, you can add text-based captions.
For text and images, WCAG 2.1 requires that the contrast ratio be at least 4.5:1. For example, black text on a white background has the highest contrast ratio. If you choose high-contrast colors, the text will be easier to read for people with visual impairments.
How does an effective website design benefit your school?
We have covered the essential elements that make up a good website design. However, you may be wondering why your school should spend money and time designing a website. Is it really necessary? Yes, and here are six reasons why.
Offers a competitive edge
The school’s principles, its prospects, and its understanding of recent developments are reflected on the website. Such an upgrade gives your school an edge and allows you to stand out from competitors.
You can spot great opportunities by keeping a close eye on the competition. You’ll quickly figure out how to represent yourself and develop the most enticing persona for your brand.
Promotes your brand
At the heart of any internet marketing plan is a website. People are increasingly using the World Wide Web to find information. If your school does not have a credible online presence, you are missing a fantastic opportunity to promote it.
There are many aspects to digital marketing. You can significantly increase enrollment rates with a content-based approach, social media ads, videos, and other strategies. However, this is not possible without an optimized landing page.
This type of advertising lets you target people who are interested in what you have to offer. It is also far more cost effective than traditional forms of advertising such as TV or public billboards.
Makes communication easy
Students and parents want information now. Your website will be the first place they look for the answers. Then, parents will look for convenient times to contact school administrators and ask questions if they need to. You can provide this through a reliable website design.
A website can include a contact form or chat support to answer potential parents’ and students’ questions. Your school will gain significant popularity if you make yourself accessible to your students and their parents.
To do this, you need an innovative, clutter-free website.
The relationship between students and schools is not what it once was. Many new forms of interaction have evolved, and your school must keep up with the change.
Creating a customized school website will engage students. Such a website could provide students with learning resources or interactive learning opportunities as well as the ability to track performance and grades.
How can you improve the quality of your school services? Feedback from parents, teachers, students, and staff can help you do that.
A website can be a great platform that allows two people to interact with each other. Allow parents to rate your services and make suggestions. This type of customer feedback is highly beneficial to any business, including a school. It can also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of new services or opportunities. The response is virtually instantaneous and allows you to make changes on the fly.
Finally, designing a website is one of the most cost-effective ways to build a reputation. You don’t need much money to hire a website service provider to design your school website. It’s much more affordable (and in our experience, more effective) than a comprehensive marketing campaign.
When reaching out to potential customers and establishing new revenue streams for your school, creating a website offers a very high return on investment (ROI). You can be part of that future by starting today.
How School Webmasters can help
Your website represents your school’s approach and willingness to embrace new trends. The sooner you explore this option, the happier you will be with the results. Online communications are becoming the norm, and schools must build their brand in the online realm.
As we said before, you can take care of website design on your own, using the resources and expertise you already have in your school. You can gain a lot of success by doing that too. However, there are also many areas that schools normally don’t have the expertise or infrastructure to handle.
That’s why we believe that using a reliable website service provider like School Webmasters is a wiser strategy; it’ll save you a lot of time and potentially costly mistakes and allow you to focus on what matters the most: running the school. So, just contact us and let’s get started!