From time to time, I feature articles by companies and consultants that I think provide a great service to schools. This post is
brought to you from MorWeb, a leading website developer that works with schools and
How to Put Parents First When Creating a School Website
Your students’ parents are the ultimate decision-makers, and as such, they should be prioritized through your school’s website. As the core of your web presence, a parent-friendly website is a must in today’s technological age. Otherwise, your administrative team will have to field parents’ constant questions via phone calls and emails, even if the answers are hidden somewhere on your school’s not-so-navigable website.
Overall, your school’s website should be a one-stop destination for current parents and future ones to find information regarding test dates, enrollment procedures, school closures, and more. After all, this is likely where prospective students and parents will form their first impression of your school’s community and where current parents return to stay engaged in their students’ lives.
While your design is certainly an important aspect, you should focus more heavily on the type of content you provide your site visitors. In order to accomplish this, we recommend that you feature the following information and elements:
- A page with important dates
- A simple enrollment form
- New and prospective parent resources
- Smooth navigation
To effectively implement these elements, you’ll need the right school website builder to get you there. Effective development tools will empower you to quickly create a professional website without any coding experience. Check out Morweb’s school website builders guide to get a sense of direction and to narrow down your options.
Without further ado, let’s jump into these best practices for putting parents first when creating a school website.
A Page with Important Dates
Whether you develop a calendar or simply highlight key dates, it’s imperative that you feature important functions somewhere on your website. Do so in a prominent place, so that parents don’t have to go on a mission and click aimlessly to locate it.
You’ll want to continually update your events calendar so that neither your parents, students, nor staff overlooks key events. Every important date should be added to this page at least one month in advance so that parents have plenty of time to arrange their schedules.
Here are a few important considerations for your calendar page:
- School holidays. Update your calendar with public holidays and any breaks, so parents can plan accordingly.
School-wide events. Use this as an opportunity to promote your events and ensure they’re well-attended. From school
to athletic events, be sure to include any that pertain to students, staff, and parents.
Testing dates. Especially with SATs and other standardized tests around the corner, parents will appreciate the heads up,
so they can make sure their children are fully prepared.
By taking some time to add your calendar to your school’s website, you’ll save your reception staff a considerable amount of
time by cutting down on the number of phone calls and emails they receive about dates and scheduling. Plus, your students’ parents
will appreciate having immediate access to this information.
A Simple Enrollment Form
Enrollment is an important measure of any school’s success. With the shift to the digital space, you can now add your enrollment form directly to your website rather than dealing with paper forms. Plus, steering away from direct contact is essential for maintaining the health and safety of your parents, students, and staff alike.
Keep enrollment up by featuring a well-designed form that funnels prospective parents through the process by following these tips:
- Limit the number of fields. When someone clicks through to your enrollment form, dozens of fields can overwhelm them. Then, they may choose to leave before ever filling it out. Instead, narrow down the information you collect to the essentials. For example, request information like the student’s name and emergency contact details.
- Brand it to your school. If parents think they’ve somehow wound up on an untrustworthy third-party site, they won’t stick around for long. Combat this by using the same font and color scheme to match the rest of your site. You should also include your school’s logo. Subtle branded elements such as these can make a huge difference.
Ensure it’s mobile-responsive. According to Double
mobile devices generate more than half of all organizational web traffic, making mobile usability an important consideration for your
school’s website. A website builder that offers responsive forms will automatically adjust the elements on your enrollment form (e.g.
fields, text size, etc.), so parents can fill out the form with ease.
For private schools in particular, boosting
is crucial as it provides more funding for your school. By adhering to these best practices, you’ll simplify the enrollment process
and convey that you value parents’ time as they won’t have to endure a lengthy form.
New and Prospective Parent Resources
Two groups that are often overlooked in school web design are new and prospective parents. Especially leading up to a new school year, prospective parents are exploring and comparing different schools in the community. Your school’s website offers a great opportunity to answer any questions new parents may have regarding the academic experience.
As part of your digital strategy, keep new and prospective parents front of mind with resources on your school’s website such as:
Information on the registration process. Even if you work at a public school or district with open enrollment, parents
still need to be informed on the registration process. Feature a step-by-step overview, offer the registration form on your site, and
provide an estimated timeline for how long the process will likely take.
Multimedia elements. Visual elements such as images and videos naturally attract people’s interest. For your
school’s website, you might feature a tour of your school or a ‘day in the life’ video that parents can share with their
children. Candid pictures of students in the classroom can showcase your learning environment in a way that words can’t.
Contact information. Encourage prospective parents to reach out with questions by featuring your school’s address,
main phone number, and email address. You may consider going a step further by featuring specific contacts such as the principal or guidance
counselors at your school. Both prospective and current parents will appreciate being able to reach out to the right individuals instead of
navigating an automated phone system.
It’s easy to allocate your design efforts to developing content that current parents find useful. However, the best school websites
take new and prospective parents into account, so devoting time to providing information for them can help boost
satisfaction and enrollment exponentially!
Once you’ve spent time developing engaging and informative content, you don’t want to let all your hard work go to waste! With smooth navigation, your site visitors will be able to quickly find the information that’s most relevant to their needs, whether they’re casually browsing or looking for specific information.
As a fact, poor navigation is one of the leading causes of web page abandonment. About 94% of surveyed users indicate that easy navigation is the most important web design feature, and 38% of people will stop engaging if the layout is unattractive.
The primary way to improve usability is by featuring a well-organized navigation bar. This design element provides the tools necessary for moving users through your website, finding key information, and accomplishing tasks. As you begin developing your navigation, keep these tips in mind:
Limit the number of options. While you may feel compelled to include all your newly developed content here, you should
refrain from doing so. You don’t want to overload your menu. Instead, feature only your most important pages, like your events page,
academics pages, and contact information page.
Use CTA buttons for important pages. Often, you’ll see schools use button CTAs such as ‘Donate’ and
‘Enroll’ in the navigation bar. While these are helpful, limit yourself to no more than three or four buttons so as not to
overload the navigation.
Include a search bar. If your CMS offers this tool, add it to your navigation bar, so users can quickly locate other pages
on your site. This is incredibly convenient for parents who may be in a hurry to find what they’re looking for.
Depending on your school’s needs, you may choose to divide up your menu based on your audience. For instance, many schools opt to feature separate dropdown menus for students, parents, prospects, and staff/faculty. This way, visitors can quickly find information that’s most relevant to them.
Now that you have an idea of what information you might want to include on your school’s website, it’s time to kickstart the design process. If you need some inspiration, check out this page that features some engaging school web designs that put parents first. In no time, you’ll be able to create an informative and appealing website for your school.