Many schools fall into the trap of building a website for one audience – prospective families. Even worse, some schools build a website with only current families in mind. Often schools forget to think about the diverse audience that will be visiting their website. This leads to many missed opportunities for donations, alumni connections, and community support.
While prospective parents should always remain the key audience, and a school’s sitemap, photos, and layout should cater to their needs, it is important to think about how a website can be welcoming and accommodating to all viewers.
Without a doubt, your largest audience is your future families. Can they see themselves at your school? Would their children fit in with the community? What is a day in the life of a student like? Prospective parents want to understand who you are just by exploring your webpage, assume they won’t come for a tour unless they have already fallen in love with your virtual presence.
The most frequent visitors to your site are likely current families. Don’t let the information they need clutter your homepage though, it doesn’t speak to your other audiences. Instead, use an internal portal or parent page to house the information they want to find with a simple click: calendars, forms, access to online grades, etc. Don’t forget that they want simple, mobile-friendly access to stay up to date on the go.
The website can be a source of revenue too! Don’t forget about your potential donors. Online donations are quick and easy for people to participate. Once a grandmother of 10 wanted to give each of her grandchildren’s schools $100. Only one of the schools had an easy path for online donations, so she gave them the entire $1,000. Your “Donate Now” button should be front and center, and your donation form should be quick and easy to fill out.
Use your website to connect with alumni. They can be great ambassadors for your school and maybe future donors or parents in your community. Have a place they can call their own and connect with your school today.
Is your school going through accreditation soon? Your website could be the first interaction your visiting team has with your campus. Make sure your site is up to date, matches your narrative and reflects the culture and community the visiting team will see when they arrive.
Your competition and neighboring schools may also view your website. Are you looking to be a community leader in education? Do you collaborate with any feeder schools? Does your school have additional programs they want to highlight? We teach our kids not to brag, but it is okay to showcase your school’s success and strengths online.
Creating a website that recognizes the varying needs of your audience is critical. A well-organized site map is key. Don’t be afraid to use a primary navigation to address your most important audience, prospective families, and a secondary navigation to engage the rest of the community.
Contact us today for an evaluation of your current site and a free website mockup to help you meet the needs of all your audience members!