We live in a world where people are quick to form opinions based on first impressions. In today’s tech-driven age, a website is your school’s storefront that can work for or against you. It can show parents, students, and faculty that you’re the real deal, or it can be a clear sign that there are better offerings on the market.
You already know that your school’s website is a major contact point between you and a visitor. As a common rule, the internet is the first place your target audience will go to understand who you are and what you want to do. So how do you attract more visitors, generate interest, and stand out from other websites?
You may now be asking yourself, “What makes a valuable school website?” and “How can we turn our existing website into one with even higher value?” and “Do we really have to sell our website?” Well, in a sense, you do have to “sell” your website, but there are numerous factors to consider as you create a product that will be of real value in your unique industry—the business of education. To help answer these questions, let’s take a look at what other online businesses do and tweak it to work for you.
We’ve created a checklist of a good school website’s critical characteristics:
1. Design for Overall Performance
Among the many factors involved, the content and design of the website must accurately and clearly reflect your website’s mission. In other words, the design and content of your school’s site should help promote the overall purpose of your site.
For instance, if the goal is to be a standout resource for students and parents, schools will increase their website value by putting calendar and news updates (more about that later) front and center. And adding a “quick links” section on the Home page for immediate access will make your site a friendly place for your target market—your school’s parents and students.
You can also include social media buttons to direct visitors to your social media pages and allow them to comment, like, and share your posts. A strong social media presence will go a long way to improving your website worth We won’t go into it here, but there’s a unique algorithm that generates value and increases your domain worth as you share clicks between your school site and your social pages, increasing your social media visibility while simultaneously improving your school’s site performance.
2. Attracting Students & Employees
First impressions are crucial for potential employees and parents seeking the ideal school for their children. Improve your website’s worth by showing site visitors what it might actually feel like as a student at your school by putting up two things that will surely improve your search engine ranking and bring in organic traffic:
- Eye-Catching Photos & Videos
You want your photos to be so good that people stop for a moment to take it all in! Of course, every image may not be that stunning, but it would be helpful to put one or two pictures on the home page and throughout your website with such spectacular appeal.
Create even more genuine interest by posting videos on the school website. Inviting photos and videos is a great way to show prospective students and employees what to expect. Plus, it allows them to make a quick comparison between your school and the one down the street. You can opt for inspirational videos or even create fun, imaginative scenarios with your own staff. That’ll definitely make you stand out.
- Relevant & Quality Content
It’s imperative that your site contains relevant information that is easy to digest. Provide information that you know will be helpful to parents, students, and potential employees.
Summarize information like semester dates, upcoming events, and lunch menus in easy-to-read, bulleted lists. Also, break down long texts into clear headings, subheadings, and tables when appropriate.
3. Creating a Smooth Browsing Experience
All of us have accessed websites to book a flight, look up a menu, or order something online and wanted to pull our hair out because the experience is so frustrating. Sometimes the pages take forever to load, the ads are annoying, they’re not intuitive and easy to navigate, and the whole page looks cluttered on our phones.
You don’t have to be a “website expert” to know that most people won’t visit the site a second time. If you want your visitors to keep coming back, you need to keep the following three things in mind:
- Quick Load Times
People are very impatient these days. If your website speed isn’t optimal, they won’t wait forever for the websites to load. If the site takes more than five seconds to load, a large percentage of visitors will bounce. Obviously, this is an area where you need the help of an expert website provider.
- Mobile Friendliness
Since most people use smartphones for everything, you need to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Nowadays, websites that appear shaky on a smartphone are pure amateur work and a certain way to destroy your score on search engines, severely decreasing your website worth.
- Effortless Navigation
Increase your website value in a hurry with a simple navigation. Beautifully curated content and spectacular images are undoubtedly helpful, but they’re of no use if visitors can’t quickly find the information they’re looking for, leave the website feeling frustrated, and go looking elsewhere. This is particularly vital for parents who are researching schools for their kids.
4. Keeping Parents Updated
Surely you already know how sensitive parents are to every detail in your school. They have probably bookmarked your website to keep abreast of every development, big or small. You can provide the information and enhance your website value through two primary sources:
- A School News Page
Be sure to include a special news page where you can share the children’s latest activities and school events as well as show the school’s daily atmosphere. This will show parents that you care. You can supplement the news with high-quality photos and videos.
- An FAQ Page
Another surefire way to boost your website value is by having a quality FAQ page. This is often the first place parents, students, and prospective employees and parents (potential “buyers”) will look for essential information. What questions do people ask regularly? Really increase your website’s worth by listing them on the website’s FAQ page, thus alleviating your already over-burdened office staff.
5. Leave the Staff to Laser Focus on Their Job
You need the website to take some burden off the staff’s shoulders. Your costs increase when staff is bombarded with calls and emails about questions that could be easily found on your website.
Imagine receiving 20 calls/emails a day about the lunch menu and 30 more about semester deadlines. A quick calculation tells you that if you put important dates, schedules, or calendars on the school’s website, your employees won’t have to spend their valuable time answering 50 calls/emails every day!
How We Can Help
Of course, in addition to the website, you need a reliable website provider and manager to take care of all the items on this list. This is where we come in.
By now, you know what a good school website looks like. Many schools may take an in-house approach to optimize their online presence, increase the number of visitors, and rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs).
It’s certainly possible to have relatively good performance by doing so, but you’ll have to spend considerable money and time to bring in external experts or train your existing staff. That may defeat your purpose and desire to increase your website value at a lower price rather than the higher price it would cost to develop and maintain the school’s website while actually adding to your staff’s already ridiculous to-do lists.
Of course, there’s another way, and that’s to use a reliable website provider. At School Webmasters, we can turn your platform into the perfect school website where you make an excellent first impression.
You can easily get a quote right now or just contact us (call 888.750.4556 and speak with Jim) and let us point you in the right direction. Are you really in the business of “selling your website”? No, but we are!
Judy Bittner, Project Manager and Lead Copywriter, School Webmasters, LLC.