Your school’s website can either make or break a prospective students’ decision to apply or visit, a parents’ decision to enroll their child, and an alumnus’ decision to donate to their alma mater. Just like any organization, schools are expected to have websites that accurately reflect their learning environments and provide sufficient information to keep students and their families updated on important campus news.
This is even more true with the massive shift to online education. With all that depends on your school’s website, it’s important to spend sufficient time developing content that conveys your commitment to education and resonates with visitors.
If your school is experiencing a lack of online engagement, it may be time for a website overhaul to recapture your community’s attention. When you enter your school website redesign project, implement these three vital tips to establish a solid digital presence:
- Offer engaging learning opportunities.
- Prioritize mobile responsiveness.
- Feature a minimalist design.
As you read through these tips, reference Morweb’s list of well-designed college websites to see them at work. Whether you’re part of the higher education sector or work at a K-12 school, every type of institution can learn from these engaging designs. Some of these real-world examples may even spark inspiration for your own website.
Ready to enter your school web design project with confidence? Let’s get started.
1. Offer engaging learning opportunities.
With the massive shift to virtual learning, educators are forced to rethink how they communicate with students, hold classes remotely, and keep students engaged while at home. Your website plays an active role in easing this transition.
Using your school’s website, you can continue providing valuable learning opportunities and remain connected to students despite the physical distance. Three primary learning opportunities you’ll want to consider are:
- eCourses: Share knowledge with students by uploading lessons directly to your school’s website for easy access. eCourses allow instructors to continue teaching students at a safe social distance. With dedicated student portals through your school website builder, students will have direct access to all content for their registered courses.
- Online assignments: Quizzes and homework are a vital part of the learning process. Especially as schools shift away from paper assessments, it’s vital to incorporate eLearning tools into your curriculum. With an online form builder, you can allow your teachers to create tests and other assignments, which will be automatically graded as students complete them.
- An educational blog: If you feature a blog on your school’s website, your marketing team probably uses it to share news and updates. Although, you should also consider sharing educational content to position your school as an authoritative, knowledgeable entity. Students can take ownership by writing about complex ideas in an organized and structured way, or staff members can circulate handy information amongst your community.
Going virtual doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the quality of the learning experience. Instead, it actually offers a powerful opportunity to get creative in the way you share knowledge with students altogether.
While the above suggestions serve as a solid starting point, encourage your faculty members to share any other ideas they have for easing the shift to remote operations. By prioritizing the learning experience, your school will make the virtual classroom as enjoyable as possible and portray that it cares about students’ experiences.
2. Prioritize mobile responsiveness.
Mobile devices are now the primary way people surf the web, and mobile traffic has consistently accounted for more than 50% of all web traffic for the past few years. Not to mention, mobile use in the education field alters the way students and teachers communicate and can be used to improve instructional quality, according to Classter. With a persistent reliance on these devices, it’s important to prioritize the mobile experience by featuring a responsive design.
When your website is mobile-responsive, the elements on each page will restructure based on the visitor’s screen size. This ensures your mobile and tablet users can find and interact with information without having to zoom in, pinch their screens, or rotate their devices.
Take your digital forms for example. When a prospective student goes to fill out an application or an alumnus goes to give through your donation form, the fields, images, and text should all adjust to fit their screen size. A responsive design will also offer touch-friendly features like drop-down menus and easy-to-hit submission buttons to smoothen the process further. Otherwise, you may lose out on valuable conversions and leads.
For schools, your communications will benefit greatly from a responsive design. This means:
- You’ll naturally attract more web visitors and encourage them to browse your school’s website.
- You’ll enable students who don’t have a desktop or laptop at home to learn remotely or to simply browse.
- It will enhance people’s perception of your school, positioning it as modern and forward-thinking.
- You’ll reduce the number of people calling the school for information if they can access it on their phones.
Remember, many parents or guardians have busy schedules and need to check their children’s school website on the go for things like the academic calendar or campus announcements. They’ll appreciate it if your website automatically adjusts to fit their smartphone screens.
To streamline the process, look for a school website builder that offers automatic mobile responsiveness. Rather than producing multiple versions of your website to work on various screen sizes, your school can focus on producing content that compels students and their parents to continue exploring your site.
3. Feature a minimalist design.
Schools often try to cram as much information as possible into their websites. After all, why would you waste valuable space? While this may be tempting, refrain from doing so, because it works against you in three ways:
- A cluttered website can overstimulate users, deterring them from engaging further.
- The visitor won’t know which information is most important and can miss vital details.
- Their impression of your school will be that it’s chaotic and unprofessional.
The last thing you want is to risk pushing users away from your school’s website. Instead, feature a minimalist design that strategically uses white space. Also commonly called “negative space,” white space refers to the empty space between page elements (such as your images and text).
As explained in this guide, web developers use white space to break up content, draw attention to certain content elements, and make information digestible. Think of it as a way to provide users with a visual breathing space.
To incorporate white space effectively, use it to draw attention to your most important elements. The more white space around an object, the more the readers’ eyes are drawn to it. You can also use white space to indicate the relationship between elements. Take your forms for instance. Place labels directly above their respective fields to indicate what information the user needs to enter.
Be sure not to overuse white space though. It does still take up space after all. Try to strike the perfect balance between page elements and the space between them, and your design will be much more appealing to visitors.
Your school’s website is one of its primary engagement tools. With the shift to remote operations, its role in your communication and education strategies has grown even more prevalent. As such, it’s important to take the time to develop an engaging school website.
From valuable education opportunities to a visually-engaging layout, there are many ways to develop your school’s website and subsequently garner attention from your community. It’s up to your team to bring your vision to life.
Remember, the right content management system will aid greatly in the development process. One that’s catered toward the unique needs of schools will provide the right functionality and design elements necessary to create an effective school website. Backed by the right platform and some web design best practices, you’ll be well on your way to creating a beautiful website that features valuable content and promotes a highly-engaging learning environment.