So, you’re refreshing your school’s website? Excellent! But how do you achieve the most from your new website provider to maximise your websites impact for each of its target audiences?
Here are some of our top tips to consider:
Clarity in the design brief
It’s important to have a clear idea of what you would like to achieve in your new website including the overall design and functionality/features.
Design: Think about what kind of message you want your new school website design to say. Do you want to have a more corporate and minimal design, or perhaps something a bit softer and visual? Look at other websites (these certainly don’t have to be school websites!) for some inspiration to help spark some ideas. Remember these websites to use as references to show the kind of things you like (or don’t like!). Also, think about your school branding and your school logo - how much do you want to follow what you have already, what changes would you like to see?
Functionality/Features: What kind of functionality would you like to incorporate in your new website? Would you like to feed your school calendar to the website so parents can easily see their children’s events? Maybe you would like to create an interactive map of the school site to help new students? Or perhaps embed your school’s social media feed to show prospectus parents all the incredible events happening at the school? You could even create an area to showcase testimonials from the students themselves, what better way to tell prospective parents/students how great your school is! You can see our list of school website functionality on our websites page.
Separate yourself from the project, think from your user’s perspective
It’s easy to get lost in approaching the new website from a member of staff’s point of view, however, don’t forget to consider how the website will be used from its largest target audiences; parents and prospective parents!
Existing Parents: Consider what information parents want to access most frequently and ensure your website makes it as easy as possible to navigate to. Perhaps you can use some ‘Quicklinks’ that are available immediately on the homepage to key areas such as term dates or any payment portals the school uses? An ‘Upcoming Events’ area on the homepage can help remind parents of events happening soon or even events in the future which they can save to their personal calendar.
Prospective Parents: As with the information for your existing parents, you will want to ensure your website makes it as easy as possible for prospectus parents to find relevant information for them, this could include admissions information or your school prospectus for example. You should also use your website to showcase all of the incredible things your school does to separate yourselves from your competitors. This could be through a ‘Latest News’ section on the homepage to show the amazing things your students are doing at the school. You could even use a school social media feed on the homepage so prospectus parents can see for themselves what’s happening at the school. And you should use your professional school photography throughout the site to ensure you a visually showing off the school in the best light.
Listen to the designers & developers
It’s important to consider feedback from the designers/developers when creating your new website – perhaps an extravagant idea for the menu functionality isn’t particularly user friendly, or maybe a particular feature you want adding to a page won’t work on mobile devices.
Our school web designers & developers do this every day and follow all of the latest trends closely to ensure we always create forward-thinking school websites that are both impressive and functional for all users. You can also see a lot of our previous work in our portfolio which will give you an idea of what can be done.
Set clear deadlines
As well as setting clear deadlines with your website provider, you will also want to set clear deadlines with other members of staff in the school who may be involved in the project. This could include members of staff who may be writing new content for the website or perhaps the design needs to be signed off by many other members of staff.
School website providers will work to strict deadlines with each milestone throughout the project such as design sign-off or content population and if these deadlines aren’t met by the school, your slot for the next stage may be taken by another website in development which could result in your school needing to be booked back in to the schedule which can add delays and potentially push back your launch date.
Don’t underestimate the importance of your sitemap
Your website navigation is key to an easy user journey and a successful website experience. Do not underestimate the power of a clear sitemap! We recommend keeping your top-level navigation within 6 main areas, avoid cluttering your top level too much as this can cause confusion for users to find the information they are looking for and could even cause issues fitting all menu options on smaller screens.
Think about what pages you want in each section and ensure these are placed where your target audiences expect them to be. Consider running a questionnaire for parents’ feedback on your existing websites sitemap for more direction on your new sitemap, or for confirmation that your existing sitemap is working well!
At FSE Design we specialise in bespoke school websites. We will help manage each step of your new website project and hopefully these tips will give you an idea of things to think about when you begin your project. View our portfolio here to see our recent websites incorporating these features and more, you can also call us on 01933 303520 to discuss your new website project.