5 + 3 Tips For Ensuring a Prospect-Focused School Website

5 + 3 Tips For Ensuring a Prospect-Focused School Website

June 7, 2021
(Reading time: 4 - 8 minutes)

Think about this, today’s school-age children have grown up with the internet being nearly at their fingertips. For most, Google has always been around, and “smartphones” have always been in their parent’s pockets. These kids will use their cell phones, laptops, or tablets to communicate, entertain, and learn new information.

If you were to show them a phonebook, an encyclopedia, a card catalog, or a printed map, they may look at you dumbfounded and say, “Bruh.” This is code for why you are using such an outdated and archaic method to find something.

To those of us who grew up and can remember when the internet wasn’t in our pocket or a voice command away, we know those items were how you found information. Now they are found in museums, antique stores, and possibly at the Grandparents’ house.

Obviously, having an online presence is a necessity. Your private school’s website and its social media accounts should constantly produce new enrollments and brand awareness opportunities. If you are a principal, headmaster, or over admissions in some way and you realize that your website or social media isn’t producing, then you should consider spending time make sure they maximize their purposes.

Let’s address your website as it is what you have the most control over. You will want visitors to navigate through your website on a particular path. Think of it as a good story, but one where they can jump in at almost any part and realize exactly what is going on.

Think about this, as you perform a search, you are taken to a page that should have the answer to your question. Chances are this isn’t going to be the front page of the website that you may have agonized over to make sure it was perfect. A prospective parent may come to a blog or a landing page. These need the same amount of attention as your front page, and they need to drive traffic to your appointment page or at least take them into the next step of their journey.

Before we go any further, let us address the website as a whole. Your website should be indicative of what your school looks and feels like. This means carrying the same school colors and feel throughout. If your school is very conservative, make sure the website conveys that. If your school is focused on technology, an edgier look may work. In other words, your school’s website is what prospective parents see first, and as we all know, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. 

If you have a good clean website design that conveys the same feel as your school, this will ensure that your users and prospective parents will spend time on your site, reading your content, and clicking on your call to action (CTA) buttons. If they have a good experience, they will be more likely to return. This will happen more often if they are finding the answers to questions. As a general rule, you always offer them a way to dig deeper through links to other content and CTA buttons. This will help them if they are trying to decide if they want to enroll their child or children.

Five things to think about with your school’s website

Here are five things to think about with your school’s website design: 

1. Is your site optimized for search engines?

SEO is a broad and significant factor in helping to get your website found on search engines. There are two essential pieces, technical SEO and on-page SEO. You will want to make sure you are following best practices regarding the technical aspects of optimizing your site. These include the title tag and meta description that show up in the search results, keywords used in the page’s content, and proper naming of images and multimedia.

2. Is your site sticky?

When it comes to making your school’s website sticky, you will want to make sure you answer searchers’ questions as best you can. You shouldn’t be afraid to address complex questions such as cost, graduation rates, or college preparedness. These are things that prospective parents will most likely want and need to know. By simply answering these questions, you are already more attractive to parents who care about their child’s education.

3. What is your user experience like?

Your school’s website design and its overall look can lure or turn off prospective parents, especially millennials. Often a visitor will be able to decide whether they want to visit the school and submit an application for enrollment after a few minutes of navigating around your website.

Elizabeth Sillence and her team conducted a study in which they found that 94% of the participants didn’t trust a site due to its user experience. 

When it comes to site navigation, the simpler, the better, often people will want to overcomplicate the site navigation and have menu items as how you refer to them. This is a major no-no! You should think about how your parents and prospective parents refer to things and keep your links named as such.

Also, think about how the site is laid out. Is it responsive and mobile-friendly? If not, it should be! We live in a mobile world. The internet is constantly at users’ fingertips, there for your site should look as good on a mobile device as it does on a desktop device.

How well your website is designed plays a role in your online marketing strategy for your school and makes sure visitors contact you. If a parent peruses the website and doesn’t end up calling you or submitting a contact form, then there’s something wrong.

4.  How likely are visitors to return?

To answer this question, you must ask yourself, what are you doing to entice parents to come back? Are you providing them with valuable information? Or are you just posting fluff in hopes that you show up for Google searches and you can convert them on the first try? 

5. What are you doing to prompt visitors to sign up or contact you?

The principal job of any website is to get visitors to reach out and contact you. Therefore how can you ensure that prospects want to contact you? Again if you provide valuable information for visitors that answers their questions, they will be more likely to want to reach out. However, website users can be lazy, for lack of a better word. You want to make it easy for them to contact you by using CTA buttons that take them right to your contact form or tour page. You will also want to limit the amount of information you collect to just the bare necessities such as first name, last name, email address, and possibly a phone number. 

Three Tips For Designing a Prospect-Focused School Website

Now that you are thinking about your site, here are three tips for designing a prospect-focused school website that will lead to more applicants for your private school.

1. Parents want a responsive web design

As we mentioned above, your site has to be easy to navigate. With the prevalence of smartphones, website architecture and navigation are no longer restricted to laptops or desktop computers. Your content must be viewable on any device in a clean and readable way or mobile-friendly. In other words, you shouldn’t have to zoom in and out to read the content. Buttons should be large and have plenty of space between them so that they can be easily clicked with a thumb. While mobile-friendly and responsive are often interchanged words, responsive is referring to ensuring that text, images, and even videos, should be viewable, readable, scalable agnostic of the device being used. 

2. Give parents ways to convert

We know the goal of your school website is to have prospective parents give you their contact information. You need to make it easy and give them ample opportunities to do so. Having a form for an e-book or check sheet might be one way. Another might be registering for your open house or to schedule a free no-obligation tour. You may also want to consider doing a virtual tour as part of a webinar. At the very least, you will want to direct them to a contact form.  

3. Your website isn’t set in stone

I have good news and bad news; your website is never done. There is always something that will need tweaking or changing. While you may see that as a bad thing, it is actually great! There is no other marketing medium that allows you to test and measure as fast as you can with your website.

Conclusion

Hopefully, I have given you plenty of food for thought. If you take nothing else away from this post, then take this; when planning a marketing campaign, be sure to think about how your online presence can be maximized and used to your advantage. Marketing your private school isn’t something that you need to go at it alone. At Cube Creative Design, we specialize in helping private schools with their marketing efforts. Contact us today to see how we can help your school increase enrollment with our proven methods.

Adam Bennett

Written by:  |  June 7, 2021

Adam is the president and founder of Cube Creative Design. Since starting the business in 2005, he has created individual relationships with clients in Western North Carolina. He places great value on the needs, expectations, and goals of the client.

See Adam Bennett's' bio: cubecreative.design/about/adam-bennett