What Do the Best High School Websites Have in Common?
For school owners, administrators, and faculty, putting up a website is a necessity in today’s high-tech world. Just like any other business, enterprise, or organization, a school needs to establish its strong and proper presence online.
A website is essential for any academic institution these days because it is the first thing that parents look at when searching for a good school to enroll in. Almost everybody searches for information online, and a school without a proper website (or with a poorly maintained one) misses out on the opportunity to showcase its credentials — which in turn leads to missed opportunities for additional enrollees.
These days, a website is a must-have, not just a “nice-to-have.” A proper online hub helps establish the credibility and reputation of any school or academic organization. It also serves as a venue for immediate and open communication between the school and its stakeholders, such as current students, their parents, and even alumni as well as potential enrollees.
Necessary High School Website Features
For schools that want to put up their own website but are not sure how to start, looking at some of the best high school websites and their common characteristics can help give some ideas:
- The best high school websites have good design. This means that the website is pleasing to the eye and attractive to look at, inviting its visitors to view further. This is achieved by the right combination of colors, visuals, and images. Intuitive navigation is also concurrent to good design. This means that the buttons and menus are easy to locate and use, and the pages are organized in an intuitive manner, allowing the visitors to find the information they want to see. Because the Internet is commonly accessed on mobile phones and other portable devices these days, a good website design is also mobile-responsive. This means that the webpages automatically adjust and adapt to the size of mobile phone screens, tablets, and other gadgets.
- The best high school websites have distinctive character. An aspect related to good design of a website is its ability to embody the unique culture and identity of the school it represents. Think of a school website as the organization’s “face” to the online public. Thus, it should communicate the school’s mission, vision, values, and principles well—not just through words but through its visual elements. For example, the school colors can be the anchor theme of the website colors. If the school has an official typeface or other logos, these should ideally be used in the website as well. The photos showing school officials, students, activities, etc. should also look professional and credible.
- The best high school websites have rich content. Part of any good website is good content. This not only means that the copy is well written and free from errors or inaccuracies, but that the website has loads of interesting and useful information by way of articles, photos, videos, and other media. Content should be updated regularly and as often as possible — this is what keeps online visitors coming back to the website.
- The best high school websites provide a smooth user experience. Another thing that upsets online visitors and website users is a broken website. This means that links lead to nowhere, photos and videos do not load properly, and many other similar inconveniences. These situations should not happen on a school website, unless of course the problem is with the user’s own Internet access. Otherwise, a school website should be able to load reasonably fast and easy, regardless of the connection that the visitor is using. All functionalities should also be reviewed and tested to make sure that they are working well.
- The best high school websites are inclusive and accessible. More than just a best practice, it’s a must for school websites to be ADA-friendly. It should have features and customization options that make it much easier for persons with disabilities to use the site. An ADA-friendly website features a skip navigation link, highly visible texts with a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1, and keyboard accessibility, among others. Plus, the images and videos featured on the website should have an alt-text, making it easy for the screenreader to ‘read’ the said files. Videos should also feature descriptive text transcripts or synchronized captions.
- The best high school websites have social media buttons. Any school that’s seriously trying to improve its online presence should leverage the power of social media to better connect with parents, teachers, and the rest of the school community. Social media buttons allow the school and website users to share relevant content and links. By consistently adding new content to the website and links on social media, the school establishes its website as a credible source of timely information.
Building and Maintaining a School Website
There are vendors and online solutions providers that particularly specialize in developing websites for schools. Ideally, a school website provider should jumpstart the website creation process by giving the school design options and by offering website packages with the basic functionalities and features that will make the website more useful to its visitors
In terms of long-term maintenance, the technology used these days is CMS or content management system. This is an interface that the web vendor turns over to the school upon completion of the website. Any school official, administrator, or teacher can update the website using the CMS. An easy-to-use CMS is an absolute must to encourage the teachers and school staff to use and update the site regularly. The platform should feature an author environment that’s simple enough to use without a vast reserve of technical know-how, but it should also offer a host of options for customizing the content of the website.
Why High Schools Choose Edlio
A reputable website vendor is one that is able to work closely with a school to address specific wants and needs. The website can start from a pre-design template, but a good vendor must be able to transform this into a unique online asset for the particular school they are working with.
Edlio is a popular school website provider that has built expertise in the academic field, and the company has provided hundreds of attractive, functional, and easy-to-use websites to hundreds of schools and districts in and around the country. As a good school website provider, Edlio not only offers technical expertise but also excellent after customer support.
Putting up a website is a long-term investment that will help improve the student population and keep the spirit of community alive among the school’s current stakeholders.