Wednesday 24 June 2015

A school's website – what am I looking for?

When I’ve looked at a school’s website in the past, I’ve thought to myself, what am I looking for?

Growing up, I went to two different schools. One was my local public school and the other was a senior school. One may ask, why did you go to a second school for only two senior years?

Firstly, I had a lot of friends from school that lived in the area of this specific school. This I felt was a win from the start. I had the option to change schools and still be around the people that I had grown up with. Awesome!

However, my main reason that I had wanted to change schools was that the current school I was attending didn’t offer what I had wanted to study. My aim had been to go to university and study marketing. In doing this, I knew I needed to get good marks and I felt that in attending a school that had a focus specifically for the Higher School Certificate, I would be able to get my best marks and achieve my goals.

The school that I went to offered many more subjects than my previous school. It was the fact that they were able to show me what they had to offer through their website that had me sold, even before I had stepped foot into the school!

In our recent survey here at Digerati, we found that 85% of users are looking for what the school curriculum offers for their family. Parents want to feel they can engage with your school, and the website is their first impression. So, you want to make it count!

First impressions.

The first time that I had looked at that school’s website, I had thought to myself:

Where can I find what they will offer me?
How will I benefit from going to this school?

In the end, my last thought was:
How do I apply?

They got me. They had won me over.

How did that happen you might ask? Well, it’s all about the first impressions!


The aesthetic look of your website, and the user experience needs to be smooth and easy to navigate. 

In saying this, you can’t over compensate with content for the way that a website is designed.
If the site is designed to be fun and interactive, make sure that your content mimics this. Use fun and engaging photos of students. Show them LEARNING, show them being CREATIVE, show them being INSPIRING.

It’s all about the story.

Everyone loves good story. When reading a story that is engaging, it gets you excited. It makes you want to be involved. It makes you want to do something great.

This is what schools strive for. As the saying goes, ‘Kids are the future’. And they ARE.

Through telling a story of how your students and chasing their dreams, building on their own skills, allows them to be able to see that they are talented and smart. They can think about how they will be as adults, and thinking back nostalgically to their school that they went to.

You want your content to show this.

When looking at a schools website, content is definitely one of the most important features. The audience want to find out as much as they can about your school, so having clear and concise content is key.

Your content should tell the story of your school, its values and its future. Storytelling is what encapsulates us into another world. As Plato said:

“Come then, and let us pass a leisure hour in storytelling, and our story shall be the education of our heroes.”

Remember it’s the school’s students that tell the story. Capture their accomplishments: this could be through imagery, their writing or feedback from parents. This will build the websites character and create an emotional response from the audience. 

The importance of clear content.

When writing your content and telling your story, whether it be the story of your school’s athletic carnival, or the charity event your students took part in, it is important to think of the way the story flows.

Make sure that there is an Introduction, body and an ending but also make it personable along with the facts.

You want to be able to convey to your audience, whether they be parents or students that your school can meet their needs, along with showing that your school is a community that works together.
Using images that would help to convey your story will also have a visual impact on your audience. It will help them to visualise the atmosphere of your school.

Referencing back to my own experience, it’s not only the curriculum that interested me in attending a different school for senior year, but I also wanted to look at it from a social aspect.
Were there extra-curricular groups that I could become involved in? What would the social scene be like if I had changed schools?

I had a valuable experience in meeting different students from my previous school. They offered international exchange programs which allowed me to learn about the cultures of others outside of my own.

My school conveyed these experiences in the stories from their exchange students. This is what I felt not only made my school stand out, but it also showed me that they offer many opportunities that I didn’t think I would have been given from my old school.

Thinking back about what I remember about my school years, was that my school offered me an opportunity to learn and grow. This is what all schools want to be able to achieve when portraying their schools website to their audience.

Make sure that you can show what you can offer that makes you stand out.
Be visual.
Be bold.
Be engaging.
Be motivating.

And overall show them that your school is the school for them!
Tell your schools story!

Until next time.