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Homepage Layouts for Your School Website Design

November 28th, 2017
By: Jeffrey Li
 Your homepage layout is one of the very first impressions you can make on students and their families so you must be extremely intentional about what you want it to look like. What purpose do you want the homepage and overall school website design to serve? Do you want to utilize it to generate applications, keep families up-to-date on news, or be the de facto resource for your students? These kinds of considerations and more will be detailed in the rest of this post with regards to homepage layouts and overall school website designs, with a few examples to act as models.

Marketing Layout

A marketing-focused school website is one of the more common kinds of websites around. These kinds of websites contain a lot of call-to-action (CTA) buttons that invite prospective students and families to talk to admissions and ultimately apply to the school. CTAs come in many forms, often a “more info” kind of button at the end of an article, statistic, blog, or other marketing material. You can distinguish a marketing focused school website from other sites because of the heavy presence of CTAs.

King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science’s website is a perfect example of a marketing layout, with a “how to enroll” button followed by a description of the school, its accomplishments, and several boxed statistics.
For a marketing layout, gather important statistics about your institution to share with the website’s visitors and prospective students that will leave a lasting impression. Some common statistics shared are graduation rate, scholarship money awarded to students, and student:teacher ratio. These numbers and standout facts about your institution will provide a lasting impression on visitors and are one of the key components of your school’s website. Several boxed statistics are just one way to display the marketing material, but you can also get creative and use moving visuals or testimonial interviews too.

Activities Layout

An activities-focused school website seeks to highlight current events at the school or district for visitors in addition to keeping families up-to-date. A good example of an activities layout is San Benito Consolidated Independent School District’s website because of the prominently displayed images that accompany featured news and their calendar of events immediately below.

Unlike a marketing layout, the activities layout is light on CTAs and heavy on accessing event and news information. The district’s website design subtly incorporates a sidebar linking to social media outlets among other things. SBCISD’s website also utilizes a spotlight section to promote the activities of its students. This clean and crisp website design contributed to its recognition as one of our school website designs of the week!

I would recommend this kind of layout for a larger school or district that can consistently generate content related to student activities. Committing to this website design requires appealing activities to feature. People are drawn to and engage better with visual information so if at all possible, highlight activities that can be photographed or its video linked to. Sports and other activities that have an “active” visual component to them are just a few examples for this kind of content. Additionally, you should feature a schedule of upcoming events somewhere on the homepage in order to promote participation at upcoming activities.

Including School News in your School Website Design

If the main focus of your school website design is to convey your school’s news prominently, then you should carefully consider the most accessible ways of delivering that news to visitors. School website designs that focus on delivering school news make it extremely simple and easy to find said news. Peachtree Ridge High School’s website does a great job of making it easy for a visitor to their website to find the school’s news through its newsletter button and prominently featured latest news box.

The most common way to feature your school news is through a rotating set of announcements or stories immediately on the landing page of your school website design. The stories should feature a headline or short caption that links to the fully written article or announcement itself, usually accompanied by a visual to better engage with site visitors. Additionally, you could have your navigation bar include a dedicated news tab that takes a visitor to a news section sorted by date added or importance.

Ultimately your school website design and homepage should be accessible to visitors of all kinds, ranging from prospective students to current students. A navigation bar somewhere on your website is key to making it accessible, and it’s up to you whether or not it should be a fixed bar or floats when someone scrolls down the website. Most schools include a mission or about us tab along with news, academics, and athletics, essentially highlighting what the pillars of the school or district are.

About Jeffrey

I’m a senior majoring in economics with a concentration in global development studies at Grinnell College, a small liberal arts college in Iowa. I’m excited to be spending my 3rd summer in the tech industry interning at Edlio and being able to leverage technology to make a positive impact in the education space. At Grinnell, I’m entering my 2nd year as the photo editor of the newspaper and 8th year doing photojournalism work as well as playing on the soccer team. You can contact me at jeffrey.li@edlio.com or lijeffre@grinnell.edu.