If you’ve been a student or a parent in the past 20 years or so, you know the importance of a well-designed school website.
And now that you’re on the other side of the desk, you may one day find yourself tasked with creating the digital experience for the entire student body of a school yourself, giving you an opportunity to provide current and future students with the kind of school website you wish you had when you were in school.
It’s a big job, but someone’s gotta do it and you’re the best creative for the job.
So, what makes for great school website design?
You came to the right place! Grab up your Jansport and let’s get started with all of the elements that make a school website not just functional but an interactive part of the educational journey!
Why is a School’s Website So Important?
A good school website should have two purposes:
It should serve as an online resource for not only students but school faculty and parents, providing them with pertinent information about bell schedules, pick up and drop off procedures, bus schedules, upcoming events, dress code, attendance, calendars, cafeteria menus, and everything else they need to get through the school year.
In addition to that, it should also showcase the school in its best possible light to encourage prospective students and parents to enroll.
The very best school websites out there show off their school pride, their community pride, and give students, parents, and staff the information they need.
This is why, as a web designer, it’s important that you make a school’s website as informative and user-friendly as you can!
The Elements that Make Up Great School Website Design
So, what are the elements that make great website design for schools?
Below are things you should consider when designing a school website to ensure that it’s visually appealing, helpful, and bursting with school pride!
1. Great UX (User Experience) Design
If any kind of website needs an easy-to-navigate and user-friendly design, it’s an education website.
With so many visitors looking for information on a daily basis, school websites need a simple, clean design that doesn’t overcrowd. And remember, whether it’s a high school, elementary school, college, charter school, or any other educational institution, everything should look neat and professional. Implementing a great UX design not only enhances the overall user experience but also reflects positively on the credibility of the school.
The homepage should be kept as simple as possible as well, with clear indicators to make everything easy for visitors to find. It’s good practice to keep frequently sought-after information like schedules, contact information, school district calendars, testing information, and school news easily accessible.
A well-crafted website offers valuable resources for the community and fosters engagement and a positive online presence for the school as well!
Note: Some independent school districts opt for uniformity by using the same website template for all of their schools. While this can cause some design limitations, you can still use your creativity to inject as much individuality as you can into a school’s site!
2. Give it a Narrative
A good school website also weaves an interesting narrative!
So, create an About Us section that tells the school’s story, including its history, any fascinating alumni that have roamed its halls, memorable moments, or any awards, recognitions, or accolades it's earned over the years.
A well-crafted narrative helps to forge a sense of connecting and school pride, engaging students, parents, and website visitors alike!
Don’t forget to include the school’s mission statement here too. This serves as a guiding force behind its efforts and offers a glimpse into the institution’s values and commitment to academic excellence!
3. Brand It
Hey, schools are brands too.
Apply the same branding principles to school websites as you would to other client work.
Craft a color palette that aligns with the school’s existing branding but also evokes a sense of warmth, welcome, and professionalism. Incorporate other elements of the school’s identity too, like its logo, mascot, and other important symbols.
Also, consider using images and other elements that showcase the school's unique culture and vibe for prospective students and their parents to see. This is especially important for colleges, charter schools, private schools, and any other institution where attendance isn't determined by school zones and recruitment is key.
Your goal is to differentiate the school from others in the area and to establish a strong and memorable online presence!
4. Keep Everyone Updated
Efficient communication is critical to a thriving school community and happy parents and teachers.
The school’s homepage should have a designated and prominent section for any important campus or district news to make sure that important updates are easily accessible.
In addition to a link to the district calendar, many primary and secondary schools also feature a campus calendar on their homepage to keep parents, students, and staff informed about things like upcoming program dates, testing dates, assemblies, field trips, holidays, fun dress up days, and more.
Contact information should be close by as well, to help parents or students reach out for additional details or further clarification.
5. Make it Mobile Friendly
It’s 2023 and the kids aren’t the only ones glued to their phones 24/7.
Busy parents and faculty rely on their smartphones, tablets, and other devices to stay connected on the go. Make sure your website design is not just responsive but optimized for mobile viewing.
Every visual element should retain its appealing looks even shrunk down to a smaller size, keeping the site accessible and engaging for everyone.
6. Link it Up
Just like any business website, there are some pages of a school website that attract more visitors than others.
Essential information like calendars, forms, cafeteria menus, school club pages, and the student handbook get many more visits than, say, the section of the website devoted to PTA minutes.
Make navigation easy by incorporating direct links on the homepage so that faculty, students, and parents can easily click over to the most commonly sought-after pages. Whether it's parents looking for event details or students accessing their after-school club information, links streamline the process.
Keep in mind that since 2020, online classrooms have become increasingly more popular too. Consider adding a section of quick links for teachers and students to access online classrooms, club pages, gradebooks, professional development, transportation info, directories, planning apps, and even the school’s social media pages right from the homepage.
By optimizing link structures, the school website becomes more efficient and, overall, more user-friendly for everyone!
7. Make it Accessible
Keep the school’s website compliant in providing equal access to information for all users.
And it’s not just about being legally required to do so. Schools should be inclusive places where all students come together to learn, so their website should do the same.
It’s best practice to include the following:
- Alt text for images — Add alternative text to images, enabling screen readers to describe visual content to users with visual impairments.
- Readable fonts and Contrast — Choose legible fonts and maintain sufficient contrast between text and background colors for improved readability for users with visual impairments.
- Keyboard Navigation — Make sure that all website features and content can be accessed and navigated using only a keyboard for users who may have difficulty using a mouse.
- Transcripts for videos and other multimedia — Provide written transcripts for videos and multimedia content to assist users with hearing impairments or those who want text-based information.
- Responsive Design — Use a responsive design that adapts to various screen sizes, making the website accessible across devices and benefiting users with different needs and preferences.
- Logical Heading Structure — A logical heading structure aids in navigation for screen readers and provides an organized browsing experience.
- Forms and Input Fields — Design forms and input fields with clear labels and instructions to make them easier to use for all users.
- Consistent Navigation — Consistent navigation throughout the website helps users find information.
8. Use Engaging Images and Video
No matter what their age, students should have fun learning at school and the website should reflect that!
Enhance the school’s online presence by embedding engaging slideshows and videos that showcase the incredible learning experiences that students are enjoying.
Features images of students actively engaged in learning, showcasing their artwork, participating in extracurricular activities, and more. These visuals not only capture the fun and vibrancy of school life but also foster a sense of school spirit and create a welcoming atmosphere for prospective students and parents by using multimedia to tell the school’s story and unique dynamic!
Important Note about Privacy and Consent: There may be privacy concerns when posting pictures of students on the internet (especially for the younger age groups). Double-check that the school has written parental permission to use images of a minor online before you add photos to the school website!
The Benefits of Good School Website Design
If you do a great job on the school website, here are some of the many benefits the school districts or other educational institutions can reap!
- Make a Good Impression — A well-designed school website creates a positive first impression for visitors, reflecting the school's professionalism, values, and commitment to excellence. It sets the tone for a welcoming and engaging online presence.
- Keep Parents and Students Informed — An effective school website serves as a central hub for crucial information, like schedules, events, and announcements. This keeps parents and students well-informed about school activities, fostering communication between the school and its community.
- Make Tasks More Convenient — A thoughtfully designed website streamlines processes and makes essential tasks more convenient for parents, students, and staff. This can include features like online forms, easy access to calendars, and quick links to commonly sought-after information.
- Encourage Community Involvement — A well-crafted school website encourages community involvement by showcasing achievements, events, and opportunities for participation. It serves as a platform to engage parents, students, and the broader community in the school's activities, creating a sense of belonging and collaboration.
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Looking for a Place for Lifelong Learners?
Are you keen on designing websites for schools?
Or any other websites for any other brand?
Perhaps you need an outlet for all of that creativity. If so, we have a possible solution.
Why not join the Designity community?
Designity is made up of the top 3% of US-based creative talent and we are always looking to add more amazing web designers like yourself to our creative community! As a Designity creative, you’ll get the opportunity to learn from the best. Our Creative Directors provide guidance, hands-on learning, and take care of all of the client work for you, letting you earn competitive pay doing what you love best.
Designity is a fully remote company as well, so you’re also free to do what you love best from wherever you like to work and during whatever hours you set for yourself.
So, if you’re ready to work your own hours doing what you love best, if you’re ready to free yourself from your desk and work from wherever life takes you, then why not apply today?
Put your skills to the test with our application process and let’s see where Designity can take you!