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What Makes a Great School Website in 2021?

An effective website is crucial to the success of your district. It is the first point of entry for many prospective families, faculty and staff as they search for districts. First impressions cannot be redone, and your website is an opportunity to make a lasting one. An effective website also strengthens the communication with current stakeholders. With a good school website you can further connect and engage with your wider community. 

Kealan Duffy, Production Manager at Finalsite, says when it comes to websites “bad design is obvious, but good design is often invisible.” Here are some takeaways from Duffy’s presentation at Finalsite University 2021 on what makes a great school website: 

Use a goal-driven approach 

What do you want to accomplish with your website? When planning a new design or new content, establish in advance the outcome you want to see. Making design and content decisions that are purposeful and solve problems will be the driving force behind making your website stand out. 

Think mobile first 

The journey your user experiences when they visit your website should remain consistent across devices. When you design for mobile first, those practices also improve the experience across devices like desktop and tablet. Duffy recommends watching for these mobile best practices:

  • Succinct, well-optimized content
  • Large type and visual hierarchy to make skimming content easier 
  • Bigger buttons to make interactions and call to action easier for your user
  • Strategic use of white space to highlight important content areas 

Use design trends effectively   

It can feel overwhelming to update your website with current trends. If you are drowning in the endless list of design trends, take a moment to look at each trend individually and how it can work in your district

“Design trends are successful when they’re right for you and right for your audience.” – Kealan Duffy 

The top trends to consider this year for your website are: bolder color schemes, dynamic layouts that move away from the grid, distinctive graphics and illustrations, and immersive motion. 

Tell your story beyond the homepage 

The homepage is an important part of any website, but it is just the start. Consider viewing your homepage as an introduction to your messages and weaving emotional engagement throughout your other pages. Through conveying your messages as stories you can: 

  • Simplify complex ideas 
  • Build an emotional connection
  • Make key messages more memorable 
  • Inspire users to take action 

It’s important to remember that some users may start their journey on a page other than the homepage based on web searches. Storytelling beyond your homepage will allow your user experience to remain consistent to matter their entry point. 

Create your design to be accessible and inclusive

Accessibility is about removing barriers and providing equal access for everyone. You engage the full potential of your audience when your website is accessible to them. Accessibility impacts every aspect of your website from design through to content. A positive user experience unlocks the ability to create meaningful relationships. 

Websites are growing in importance for current and prospective families. A good school website design allows users to easily find the information they need and represents your school in a positive way. Is it time to update your website for a better user experience? We’re here to help!   

Published on: April 7, 2021

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