For most parents, the task of finding their child the perfect school is already daunting. This, combined with the information overload of the digital age, can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed and certainly adds to the difficulty parents face when trying to differentiate one option from the next.
A cluttered, hard-to-navigate school website is often the last straw.
The gateway to any brand or business, a website is generally the first welcome any potential family will receive from your school. It is therefore essential that this welcome reflect the values and points of difference you provide to each of your students.
A user-friendly, well-designed website that effectively utilises both visual and textual methods to communicate its message is vital. The following five updates will give any school website an immediate lift and make it more attractive to your key audience: prospective families.
1. Apply a responsive design
When considering web design the first hurdle for any school is to understand how potential families access your website. Statistics from IAB Australia reveal people are progressively choosing to interact with websites through portable devices including smartphones and tablets, while those accessing the internet via desktop and laptop are declining.
A responsive design caters to this emerging trend by ensuring your website modifies the presentation of information to the user's chosen platform.
2. Make it easy to navigate
The second design hurdle faced by many schools is the dreaded cluttered and unclear homepage.
The homepage is the face of your school and the most visited page on any school's website.
An over-complicated home page is not just off-putting, it can prevent visitors from finding the information they require and ultimately from considering your school.
A simple navigation bar and drop down menu that features clear headings with the most valuable information for prospective families is fundamental.
3. Use compelling visuals to communicate your point of difference and personality
Studies reveal people are able to retain 20 per cent of what they read but an incredible 80 per cent of what they see. Images are not only memorable, they also resonate with people's emotions.
Consider the example of Bedford Girls School in the United Kingdom and take advantage of the visual nature of online communication. Integrate compelling visual and multimedia content into your website to effectively translate the "feel" of your community to prospective families. This can include succinct and engaging video clips where relevant.
4. Include an inviting call to action
A website that engages prospective families is important but the key is not to lose them there!
Include an invitation to build upon your relationship with potential families by inviting them to join a mailing list or attend an open day. Throw open the doors to your school via your website, let prospective families know you welcome their interaction and provide personalised tours and information updates.
5. Continuously create fresh, valuable content
Fresh, relevant, informative content that is regularly updated is at the heart of website best practice.
In the age of the 24-hour news cycle, producing regular content increases people's awareness of, and interactions, with your website.
The best way to publish regular content is to develop a blog with content surrounding new developments at the school, student achievements and commentary from senior educators on broader social issues and events. This will allow potential families to gain insight into your school values and immediately become part of your community. This content can then be distributed further through social media channels such as Facebook and professional networks such as LinkedIn to engage further with prospective (and current) parent and student audiences.