6 Best Practices for School Website Design
Do you remember the time when your schoolteacher would send your parents letters or notes, or when the high school prom would be announced on the hallway bulletin board? Kids these days have quite a different experience of school—one that is more dynamic and fast-paced, done with the help of interactive gadgets and the Internet.
As such, their school life largely revolves around the web and social media — and for good reason, because it helps them keep in touch with school happenings even if they are not physically present in campus. These communication channels also help them enjoy a stronger sense of community within their school, bringing them closer to their teachers and classmates.
As such, just like any other enterprise or organization, schools cannot do without a website in this day and age. Having a good online presence is a must for any academic institution, and if you are a school principal, administrator, or faculty member, you should be able to maximize the benefits that online communications bring to you and your school community.
Putting up a School Website
If you think it’s difficult to put up a website, think again. With the right school website provider and easy to use CMS, you can start off on a school website project immediately without need for technical know-how or computer programming skills. These CMSs are built just for schools and Edlio provides you with a range of choices in terms of design and functionality that you can use to start building your school website.
Once you have selected a template that appeals to you and your school, continuous upkeep and uploading of information on the website is made quick and easy through the CMS. This is a user-friendly interface that allows any lay person — you or any authorized school representative — to easily change text, photos, or any other element of the website through guided parameters.
School Website Providers
Despite the availability of open-source website creation tools, choosing to work with a dedicated school website provider still remains the smartest, most efficient option for schools. Schools have specific needs, demands, and requirements for an online hub, and only well-experienced providers know these. Free website creation platforms may not be able to offer the features that will make a school website more attractive and useful to parents, students, teachers, and school staff.
Edlio works with clients closely in order to come up with the right online solutions. If you are using a website design template, this can be customized and updated to fit the particular character or culture of your school. In addition, you can expect reliable customer service, technical support, and a CMS that is designed for easy navigation and use.
Best Practices for School Websites
With more than 15 years of experience in creating websites and online communications solutions for schools, Edlio has become an industry leader and knows what works and what doesn’t in terms of school website design and functionality. The best high school websites you will find usually share common characteristics and features. Here are the top 6 best practices for school websites you should know about:
Even if you are taking off from a pre-existing website design, it is important to customize it to reflect your school’s character and culture. The website must have basic design in terms of colors and other visual elements that are aesthetically appealing and generally attractive, but these elements must also connect to your school logo, character, and branding.
Original and Fresh Content
It’s important for a school website to remain fresh and relevant. The consistent addition of new content will help establish the website as a reliable and timely source of information for both parents and students. The site should contain eye-grabbing news updates, engaging texts and photos, and an up-to-date school calendar. Plus, it should also display the correct address and contact information of your school so that officials can be easily reached by the students, parents, or teachers.
More and more parents and students are accessing the Internet through their smartphone than their desktop computer or laptop. To take advantage of this reality, your school website must be mobile-responsive. This means that the website design adjusts automatically to the dimensions or ratio of smaller screens on mobile phones and other gadgets and devices such as tablets.
Social Media Integration
The best school websites today are linked up to other media and channels of communication. In recent years, social media use has become very popular, and almost everyone is on one platform or another. In order to maximize your school’s online presence and to connect with your community members, your school should also have its own social media accounts and your website should be able to link all these up and integrate them.
School websites and other communication tools should be ADA-friendly. ADA refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act created by the Department of Justice, which indicates standards for accessible design that take into consideration the needs of differently abled individuals. To ensure compliance with accessibility requirements, your school CMS should provide you with the built in tools necessary to be ADA-friendly. This includes:
- A required alt text setting for all media uploaded to the site.
- Automatic closed captioning and transcripts for all videos upload to the site.
- Site navigation that is accessible by keyboard.
- Pages that are structured logically with clear header tags for screen readers.
- A form builder that automatically adds the required labels and has instructions and error handling already included.
- Ability to rename files you upload and label link text.
It goes without saying that a school website should be available and accessible round-the-clock, as any user can visit at any moment of the day. A website is of little use if the links are broken or if it takes more than a snap for the entire page to load. There should be minimal to no technical errors when a school website is accessed. It should be designed and programmed to load and be usable in reasonable time.
A school website provider like Edlio makes sure that all these best practices are in place and maximized for all the benefits they bring. Edlio works with clients closely in order to develop websites that truly speak of the unique culture of a particular academic organization. While you may find that developing a school website takes time and effort, with the right vendor like Edlio, it becomes a truly worthwhile investment in establishing your school’s credibility, great reputation, and trustworthiness. With a proper website, you will be able to attract more enrollees and continuously grow your school community as an active and dynamic one.