Your school website plays a significant part in the admissions process and can often be the initial ‘touchpoint’ for a prospective parent. To expand upon our ‘Ideal Admissions Experience’ infographic we have put together the essential steps you should take to ensure the process is streamlined and completed successfully.
In most cases, the admissions process begins with the prospective parent conducting an online search consisting of relevant keywords to their needs such as location, type of school (prep, boarding etc). Examples of common searches at this stage would be ‘Independent school Kent, ‘Prep School Sussex’ or ‘Boarding schools in Essex’.
In order for your school website to appear within the search engine and list for these terms, it is vital that the content on your school website is SEO optimised and follows best practices.
From the search, the prospective parents will be able to land on your school website, which is where your website design will need to capture their attention and encourage them to stay on the page. This is a key part of the process, as landing pages on your website can be set up to ensure that you are providing a personalised experience, by aligning these landing pages with paid ads for specific target keywords.
Unbeknown to many, your school website and it’s content should always be aimed at prospective parents rather than at your current parents. Parent portals can be used for communication with current parents, which can then be integrated with your school website. Your school website is essentially your ‘shopfront’ highlighting your school’s key messages and unique selling points, encouraging users to take the next step, with the end goal of having the user apply for a place at your school.
The structure of your website is also as important to make this process as simple as possible. We would always encourage schools to have their admissions page easily accessible in the top-level navigation of the website. Ensuring that the information the prospective parents seek is readily available at their request.
Many schools have adopted an online prospectus allowing the prospective parents to view the material digitally via the school website, once again at a time that suits them. In doing so, this avoids the typical waiting period it may take for the requests to be processed and a hard copy of the prospectus to be sent out. However, we fully appreciate that some parents will also require a hard copy of the prospectus, therefore we would recommend having an option to order one, along with the ability for the prospectus to be viewed digitally.
Part of the admissions process is encouraging prospective parents to visit the school for open days, therefore, it is important that you have these dates clearly signposted on your website. Using pop-up windows can be useful to announce important upcoming dates/events as they immediately grab the users attention and force the user to take action in order to continue browsing through the website.
By having digitised forms on your school website, the admissions journey time and becomes a more time-efficient way, as the forms can be completed, submitted and processed very quickly. If your admissions form requires added detail, such as additional information or documents to be provided and uploaded, an online form has the ability to significantly cut down the amount of time required, for the parents to take copies and have them sent via post to the school.
Once again depending on the detail, it may be useful to include the ability to ‘save’ the progress that the parents make whilst completing the form, making it more convenient for them. Another useful feature to include in an online form is a progress bar allowing the parent to see how much they have completed to give them a rough indication of how long they left to complete it.
Having a clear timeline of the stages in the admissions process on your website can be really useful to help parents keep track of important dates and avoid missing deadlines. This can be added as a content page or even an infographic.
Your school website truly has the ability to enhance the experience of prospective parents who are considering an independent school education for their child. If your school website isn’t fully integrated into your admissions process, then you are potentially missing a BIG opportunity. If you are keen to find out further information on how you can utilise your school website to streamline this process, then please get in touch with our Business Development Manager, Sam to have a further conversation.