"Be different, break the mould and stand out for your school website design in 2019."
Bridget Redworth Digital Marketing
With the new year well in full swing and the next intake of pupils not far off the horizon, now is seen by many as a great time to take stock, and review the performance of the school website. But what action needs to be taken? At this crucial moment in the academic year for admissions, schools cannot afford to let their website become stagnant.
So we have identified what to look out for this upcoming year and how to utilise your school website to its full potential:
Be different, break the mould and stand out
During our initial conversations with schools, we discover what they want to achieve from their new website, and in most cases, we’re always given the same answer, ‘we want to be different and stand out’.
Your website should be the greatest and truest reflection of your school’s vision, values, and morals, all of which will differ to other schools. So make sure you use this platform as an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Whether this is through the use of your videos and imagery, or animation and creativity on your website design, don’t hold back.
Capture your reader’s attention
The use of good, large powerful images and videos is something people have finally acknowledged the importance of, therefore this should be considered for your school website design. When a user lands on your school website, you want to capture their attention immediately and encourage them to continue to navigate through your website.
Use of online forms
We expect to see a rise in the use of online forms for school website design throughout 2019, this provides your school with the ability to collect data online, at a time that suits your audience, whilst keeping the data safe and secure.
Consider your user journeys
The main target audience for your school website should be prospective parents, as you have the ability to provide an alternative experience to current pupils and their parents through a parent portal, such as My School Portal. Creating user personas for your prospective parents is a good place to start, as this will help you understand their needs, wants and more importantly the information they wish to seek from your website. With this knowledge, you can map out their most likely user journey on your website, and make relevant changes in the user experience, to ensure the best chance for a conversion, whatever the conversion may be.
Your current performance
Reviewing how well your website is currently performing is a good place to start, tools like Google Analytics offer an insight into page visitors, bounce rates and session durations. From these metrics, you can then understand what action needs to be taken in order to make improvements.
Something that should have been done a very long time ago! Having a responsive website isn’t a trend, it’s a must in today’s day and age! Back in March, we shared that Google would be mobile-first indexing sites, so if you want to be found on a search engine (which you should do), then it is your first action point for 2019.
What is a responsive website?
A responsive website provides optimal viewing experience, meaning it can stretch, shrink and adjust to fit a wide variety of different screen sizes and devices. Therefore each user no matter what device or platform will have an enjoyable experience.
Use the Unsplash archive to view thousands of stunning hi-res images for free, this will give you a huge advantage in comparison to stock images which are easily recognisable and will take away your brand identity and uniqueness.
Old out of date content
As mentioned keeping your content current and up to date is a must, if a user lands on your website and can only find posts from back in 2017 it shows that keeping them up-to-date and in the loop isn’t top of your agenda (and it should be!).
They’re annoying (particularly on mobile) and can frustrate a user causing them to leave your website. You guessed it, this will cause higher bounce rates! We would recommend only using pop-ups for emergency announcements that your site users really need to be informed about.
This should definitely not be your way to display important information and notices as users give up waiting to read the whole message as it simply takes too long.