As per the stats about 55% of visitors spend less than 15 seconds on your website. The key success is how well you use the first 15 seconds to capture the attention of the visitor to your school’s website.
People aren’t reading the entire content on the web the way we think they are, but we need sufficient content for ranking on search engine. A perfect website is the one which is developed for both parties, the user and the search engine.
1. Focused communication
The content, structure and the design should be based on your target audience . Your audience can be new and existing parents, students, staff, job hunters & community.
Your website should provide timely, engaging, and current information to your target audience. It may be a marketing platform to attract new students by reaching out to their parents or guardians and to recruit quality staff. Or it may be the first place to provide information and communication channel for your existing users.
Your primary website is like your front office you should cater everyone equally and include content for everyone.
Tip: Use internal applications or systems for your existing users. For example, you don’t have to post school time table or circulars on the main website.Use a school management system instead.
2. Build it on a good platform
In a fast and modern marketing era, Speed, Easy of use are important. Use the technology wisely.
Domain Name – use education specific top level domains like .edu .org .sch.ae
Tip: Make it short but dont make it confused – For example Gipa.ae sound simple and memorable than Gulfinternationalprivateacademy.ae or gulfintlpvtac.ae.
SSL certificate – apply SSL Certificate to your school website to keep it safe and secure.It gives the assurance that the website is authentic and any personal data shared or any information entered is encrypted.
Tip: Use free services like Letsencrypt, if you don’t want to spend money on it.
Website Hosting – Choosing the right hosting service provider will help in improving your website’s loading speed and data security. The right service provider will offer 99.9% uptime. With the assistance from an experienced technical team you can choose between Shared Web Hosting, VPS Hosting or a Dedicated Server.
Content management system – if you don’t have a tech team to manage your website use a content management system like joomla, wordpress, drupal etc. using cms will be easy to manage the website with regular updates. All cms will have their own pros and cons talk to a consultant to choose the right one for you.
3. Responsive & mobile friendly
Your website should be designed responsive and follow W3C standards. A well planned design ensures consistent branding & can get you more business. Mobile-optimized websites are ranked higher on Google making it easier for your audience to find your site on various search engines.
Tip: Responsive and mobile friendly website doesn’t mean everything become self adjustable in width or height. But also on deciding what is important and what is not to have it in mobile view.
4. Make it accessible for everyone
With inclusive education policy of KHDA (a guide for schools) it is important to make your online systems and contents (especially your main website) accessible for everyone.
5. Information Architecture & UX Design
Creating a smart Information Architecture (IA) is the base for a good User Experience. UX design (User Experience) is much more than content structuring & it is planning the perfect navigation system. Information Architecture & UX experts consider the specifics of the target audience needs and puts user satisfaction as the priority.
For schools, it is also very important to structure the various school website pages, navigation, and content in a smart and efficient manner. This effective organization and structure of website content help to provide a simple and enjoyable user experience to the website visitors and also lowers the bounce rates. Strategically designed and well-organized school information can also play a pivotal role in higher conversion rates.
Thus, small inputs like an easily accessible site search toolbar, a well-placed site map, etc. go a long way in creating a perfect school website with smart information in the architecture.
6. Keeping it simple
Avoid using too much terminology or jargon. A simple, easy to navigate website with prompt lead capture forms is the smartest strategy to scale your business online. This simple, organized, streamlined website can maximize your conversions. Effective website design is about communicating as much as possible with as few elements as possible.
Tip: Split your contents into multiple segments. For example, for lengthy contents like about us, give an overview in 1 or 2 paragraphs and link to detailed separate page with read more. In that way if someone interested to read more they can click on the link and read more.
7. Use of social media
Social media has emerged as one of the most powerful marketing tools available for schools to make themselves popular among their target audience. Today, as more families are spending time browsing online, social media makes it easier to reach out to parents. This is why it is important for school websites to use social media integrated into their web design.
Tip: While choosing username/link for you social profiles make it the same across all social media channels. It helps a user to remember and follow your profile in all channels
8. Brand all platform with a consistent look, design and message
Ensure that your key communication messages, the look of your website including colors and various design elements are the same across all mediums and platforms. Keeping consistency help the users to memorize the brand. The look, colors, and fonts used on your social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter should be similar to those on the website to give your website a consistent and professional look and feel.
Tip: Share a brand guide or design system with everyone who work with contents or materials for your online and offline presence.
9. Collect contact information for every new visitor
Try to collect visitors email with simple targeted forms and send them personalized information, school updates and information on various subject/seminars to keep them interested in the school. This is a simple engagement exercise but goes a long way in keeping the school details fresh in the mind of the parents and staying connected to the parents and the students.
Tip: use a cookie based form and limits in case if you are using a pop up to collect data. Showing it every refresh or page views will frustrate the audience.