What makes a great school website?
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Your school website is the single most effective marketing tool to improve communication and engagement with stakeholders, promote your school to prospective students and families and build a reputation within your local community. So, any good school leader should be asking – what makes a great school website?
The key to a great school website is a well thought out navigation. A smooth transition from page to page, leading users to the information they’re looking for quickly and easily is your main objective, not impressing them with a cool, edgy design. An effective, logical main navigation might include:
- About us
- Parent information
- Year groups
- News and events
- Teacher/governor log in
Including a search functionality is also a winner, some people just want to enter a quick search and off they go, so accommodating that into your design is a good idea.
This should be number one on your priority list. Delivering information in a clear and concise format with a well-considered user journey is the holy grail of any website! Here’s a few factors to consider when you’re thinking about a new school website:
1. A clean and neat design! Balancing plenty of white space (this doesn’t literally mean ‘white’ space, it can be any colour as long as it’s space) with images and text allows you to guide the user’s eye where you want it to go, such as to a call to action e.g. a prospectus download link.
2. Time saving features: up-to-date calendars synced with your school MIS, well placed contact forms, a social media feed on the home page – anything that makes the experience of using your website easier for your user.
3. An uncluttered homepage: rather than cramming everything onto your homepage and making it look super busy, thinking about logical categories where users can easily find information that are grouped together e.g. Resources, is key.
So, with a well-designed user journey, your website visitors should be able to find information they’re looking for easily and quickly. To test this, it’s worth giving some teachers, parents and students a series of tasks to complete on your school website, such as downloading a digital prospectus or completing an enrolment form, then analysing their feedback on how easy (or not) the process was for them.
A mobile friendly or responsive design is an absolute must, so if you’re going to the trouble of having a new school website developed, make sure it’s going to be responsive as standard. We’d expect that school website companies out there are ONLY developing responsive school websites now, but you never know, so it’s always best to check. Responsive design means your website is viewed perfectly on any device, whether it’s a desktop PC, mobile phone or tablet.
Quick page loading is also a winner; to optimise the user experience for all (including those accessing your website without a high-speed broadband connection), a homepage that’s not top heavy with resource hogging elements is a good idea.
Finally, make sure your school website provider ticks all the compliance boxes for your new website such as:
- School contact details
- Admission arrangements
- Ofsted reports
- Exam and assessment results
- Performance tables
- Behaviour policy
- School complaints procedure
- Pupil premium
- Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium
- PE and sport premium for primary schools
- Special educational needs (SEN) and disability information
- Careers programme information
- Equality objectives
- Governors’ information and duties
- Charging and remissions policies
- Values and ethos
- Requests for paper copies
Read more about what maintained schools should publish here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/
If you’re thinking about a new school website, have a look at this blog on creating the perfect website brief. To view some of our fantastic designs click here.
We’d love to hear about your proposed school website project, feel free to pop an enquiry through and we’ll get straight back to you.