The Key Ingredients to Building a School Website
It’s no secret that “homepage” is another word for “lifeline” in the world of web. A school’s website design has only a few seconds to grab and keep the reader’s attention, making the first impression of the utmost importance.
When building, or rebuilding, your school’s website, the homepage should act as the focal point that presents relevant content in a clean and concise manner. It’s your homepage’s job to answer any questions potential students may have before they go ask them elsewhere. Here are five of those questions to get you started.
1. Who Are You and Who Do You Serve?
The vast majority of searches (83% to be exact) start as unbranded queries. This means potential students are likely not searching for your school by name, but rather by category (technical school, private university, etc.) When that student lands your homepage, you’ve got a single moment to wow them. Otherwise, they’ll move down the list of your competitors.
Maintaining a consistent brand feel will give visitors a clear understanding of who you are as a school. Allow the homepage to illustrate your school’s culture, atmosphere and overall expected experience. Give visitors a vision of what they can expect.
Because you have little time to establish a connection, it’s important you’re transparent with your audience by defining who you serve. Let them know the qualifications upfront to avoid wasting anyone’s time.
2. What Can You Offer?
Your school is well-establish and offers a multitude of programs, majors, clubs, etc.—but what can your school offer that no other school can?
This is your opportunity to boast accomplishments, awards and championships, but differentiating your institution goes much further than that. Potential students want to know they would be going to a school that’s superior in what they do—they want to know they would obtain the highest quality experience.
Use this opportunity to display your strongest numbers and your most prized achievements. A prospect’s search is driven by inspiration and reassurance, so display data in a way that’s easy to understand with infographics and pictures. Make their experience on your site memorable.
3. Why Should You Be Trusted?
Choosing a school is a big decision, calling for time and dollars. This is why transparency is vital from the get-go. Everything you exhibit on your homepage should accurately depict what your brand represents. The content should be beneficial. The numbers should be factual. The images should be authentic.
Testimonials are a great way to source genuine references. Get your current students involved, find out what they love most about your school and sell their experiences. Starting a new school can be intimidating, which makes any advice from a peer all the more comforting.
While a feeling of belonging is important, money is likely a bigger factor in the decision-making process. Make sure your homepage allows easy access to the cost of attending your school. Easy navigation is key—students can only begin to consider your school if they can easily find information on it.
4. Where Can You Be Reached?
There are few things more frustrating than trying to get in contact with someone and not being able to. There’s no easier way to lose a prospective student’s consideration.
People, more specifically parents, find comfort in accessible communication. They want to know they can reach someone at any moment. If you’re going to maintain a credible profile, make sure your school’s address and contact information are effortless to find.
5. How Can I Get Started?
This is your home run. Your school’s website design should ultimately draw visitors to more information on enrollment—make this call to action big and bold to entice clicks.
Hopefully, prospects have reached this point because they have learned about your brand, what it offers, what it can promise and how easy it can be attained. A homepage that answers the 5 questions above is a homepage destined for more visitors.
For more insights on designing a school website that connects with students and other education marketing topics, be sure to check out our archives.