Increasingly, education establishments are being pressured into running themselves as efficient businesses. With more and more parents choosing to send their children to ‘better’ schools further afield, the competition for students (especially those top-performing) is fierce. Schools must distinguish themselves to not only attract new students, but to also reduce staff turnover. Any successful business must be supported by an efficient and easily interactive public interface, and the education sector is no different.
School websites are an integral part of the school’s ecosystem. It is the platform from which prospective parents can view the school’s facilities, pupils can access their documents, staff can access their timetables and parents and staff are able to communicate with one another. With schools of all types now creating websites to ensure communication between staff, students and parents is effortless, the need for a well-designed, functional school website is higher than ever.
The right information
Although there is a lot of flexibility when it comes to the design and features of your primary school website, if your school is maintained by your local authority, there is certain information that must be published to comply with The School Information Regulations. This includes the school’s contact details, Ofsted reports, curriculum, exam results and behaviour policy. Click Here to see the comprehensive list of the specific information that needs to be included to ensure you website complies with the 2016 guidelines.
Content is key
When creating a website, be it for a school, or otherwise, it is necessary to focus on the content you’re putting on it. Ensuring the content is written professionally, includes all the relevant information (but doesn’t ramble), is kept up to date and includes appropriate keywords can be the difference between an unsuccessful website and an effective one. Performing quick keyword research can really improve the search engine ranking of your website. As previously mentioned, when a new website is created for a school, it is entering a highly competitive market on the internet. The fight for page one ranking on Google is high, for example, when ‘Primary Schools Norwich’ is searched for, 402,000 results appear. By focusing your primary school website’s content to include various related keywords, you greatly increase not only the likelihood of appearing when someone searches for those words, but also the likelihood of appearing within the first few pages of the search.
Creating a ‘news’ or ‘blog’ section on your primary school website is a great way of including keywords whilst creating content that both staff and parents can enjoy, and glean information from. This news section can include school trips, exciting projects, and any activities stemming from government initiatives (for example – gardening and clean up mission based on the Eco Schools’ initiative). You could even have featured posts from some of the children and give them a taste of journalism! Children love to feel involved in something that gets showcased outside of the classroom, and both staff and parents love to read articles written by children. As well as keeping content on your website fresh, adding guest posts by children (or even different staff members) is a great way of adding a personalised and unique edge to your website – helping your school standout to prospective parents.
Usability and Navigation
We’re all on the go 24/7. Whether it’s a parent trying to find out when the next swimming lesson is, whilst bustling their children into the car, or a staff member wanting to view a document on the commute into work – ensuring your website is compatible on mobile and tablet devices is a must. Mobile internet users overtook desktop users in 2016, this shift towards using the internet on-the-go is reflective of our busy world. If your school website doesn’t load properly, the buttons don’t work, or the text doesn’t fit the screen on a mobile device, you’re ostracising a huge proportion of your website visitors. Consider this when exploring the school’s web design, as long bullet-pointed lists or scrolling images may look great on desktop, but can often cause problems on mobile devices.
Evolving your school’s website into a mobile app is a great way of translating your website’s best features and putting them into an interactive, modernised interface. Not only does it simplify mobile usage surrounding your website, it can also allow parents and staff to receive notifications, serving as instant reminders, whether it be to inform of a snow day or red nose day – there’s an app for that!
Although choosing a school web design that is fun and interactive is key, making the page easy to navigate is also a must. Keep navigation in mind whilst designing the layout, as a website that is hard to find information on, is a poor website. One way of keeping your website functional is to consider what your staff, parents and pupils will visit your school website for most often, split these into categories and create clickable tabs for each category.
Not only does the website need to be navigable for the parents, but the back end of the website must be just as user-friendly. Using a platform that allows staff to make changes to both content and imagery at a click of a button is the key to a website’s success.
Keep it fresh
As much as it might feel like a never-ending task, keeping your website up to date with recent news, events, exam results is a necessity for any professional school website. As well as updating the written content on the website, it is also important to update the imagery and design, especially if you choose to customise your website to reflect the different seasons throughout the year. A dated website quickly looks unprofessional and can lead to functionality issues if your school’s web design doesn’t adapt to new changes in technology.
Imagery and Design
When you first enter a website, the overall appearance is the first aspect that you notice. Creating a website that is clean and modern in appearance whilst showcasing work, projects or activities by the children is the perfect way of displaying your school’s attributes.
Finding the perfect balance between personalised and professional can be hard whilst designing primary school websites, however, with our 2017 guide to a perfect primary school website, Webanywhere hope to help you on your way to school web design success.