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Any educational institution needs a well-organized and attractive website. Providing a website where students, parents, alumni, and faculty members can easily access information about academics and school social life with the click of a few buttons on their phones is essential.

However, simply having a website with information isn’t enough anymore. With so many options to choose from, prospective students can easily be invited or turned away by your school purely based off of the website, whether it be too much content, limited accessibility, unorganized elements, or other factors.

These obstacles for you and your school community can be eliminated with the creation of an inviting and comprehensible website. Looking to create your own school website? Check out these essential tips on how to get started!

Listen And Understand Needs

First and most importantly, you need to know who your target audience is, and what they need. Are you a school of the arts? Are you a school for people with disabilities? High school? University?

These schools cater to people of vastly different communities. It’s important that your website addresses these factors to attract the right students for the school community.

Ensure that you personally ask the other members of the community that use the website how they use it and what they’d like to see remain the same or change.

For example, a typical student at an average high school would say that they will need access to a portal for their grades, a calendar for the school year, or a teacher directory, all of which should be found on the homepage of the website.

Formulate A Plan

One of the most common mistakes when creating a website is putting too much information all at once. Yes, it’s true that “less is more” may not apply here, but so does putting massive amounts of information in a tiny text box.

To avoid this, first, revisit the list of the main groups the website should address, and take a look at how they use the website, what they want to see change and the absolute necessities that the website should address.

Next, create a sitemap. A site map is a one-page layout listing every single link of every page throughout the website in a comprehensible, readable manner. Instead of searching through multiple pages to find what you want, you can find it directly on the sitemap.

When creating a sitemap, first map out any content that already exists. Next, match any content already existing to the goals of the user. Following this, use the information gathered from the users about what they need to see changed on the website, and integrate these factors into the new design.

In addition, videos, slideshow presentations, quotes, and pictures are great ways to enhance your school website.

Web Design

It’s easy to delegate all web designing responsibilities to developers, but integrating members of the school community into the web designing process will help create a much better website and user experience. The developers should know exactly what students, staff, and parents want to see, and talking face to face will prove to be much more helpful and easier than keeping committees separate to do their own tasks.

When designing the website, use white space as a way to give the user something to focus on. High-quality photography is a must, and easily readable text with a stark contrast from the background should be planned out as well.

Do not input every page into the navigation. Instead, use consistent visuals in different forms such as main navigation, a second navigation bar, footer, sidebar, and other important elements.

In short, ensure that whatever design you choose should be one that is easy to navigate to find essential information.

Development

Developing a website is a process, and you will encounter many forks in the road. Choosing one decision will lead to a different result than another, and you will need to make the choice carefully.

However, it’s important to create some ground rules before diving straight in. When you reach one of these decisions making moments, referring back to these rules can prevent you from making choices that may convolute the entire project.

Ensure that your website is secure and well-built, with little to no downtime. The developers should follow coding standards, and be able to decide whether a framework or custom site is best for the needs of the school.

Following these guidelines will lead to a website that is dependable, inviting, and easily accessible for every user.

Market

One of the most important ways of marketing your school is creating a message reflecting the mission of your school. Are you a performing arts school? A religious school? Liberal arts and/or research university? Ensure that the message tailored to the mission of the school comes across on your website.

Social media profiles are excellent ways of attracting attention today. If you have a Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, and/or a blog account, link these onto your website for users to see what the school environment is like.

Training

Online courses for teachers and staff on how to design their own pages or use the website are great ways to identify any problems or successes in the new design.

Great examples of college websites

The University of Maryland, University of Notre Dame, and Bucknell University all have some of the best-ranked college websites. Their websites’ unique style, readable text, inviting and representative colors, easy navigation, pictures, and other elements help bring the website to life. Take a look at these and find some inspiration!

Find Someone With Development Experience

Looking to create or redesign your school’s website? With over a decade of experience, SDI has worked with enterprises, businesses, and educational institutions to build their apps and websites.

SDI’s design and software development professionals will work to create your school’s website that is tailored to your needs within the time frame you want.

Give us a call at 408.621.8481 or email us at team@sdi.la

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