A great school website should serve as a portal of information for teachers, parents, and students to access. Unfortunately, many schools end up with lackluster websites that not only look a bit drab, but can also be difficult to navigate. In the end, the website doesn’t get as much traffic as it should because the poor design and user experience is driving away visitors.
You may be asking yourself, “In what way can an average looking school website actually have poor design?” The following is a quick rundown of the most common mistakes that you can avoid to ensure that your school website is properly designed.
Dead or Irrelevant Links
Here’s a simple rule of thumb when it comes to school website design: If you click on a link, it should take you somewhere relevant. However, you will still see a lot of school websites that have so many buttons that lead to empty pages or dead links that force visitors to go back to the previous page. This mistake usually happens when the school website goes live without checking if everything has migrated properly.
How to avoid it? Double-checking your website directory before going live should help you spot broken links that can be removed. This is a lot easier if you have a powerful CMS such as Edlio to help you manage your site content.
No Search Function
Whenever someone checks out a school website, you can bet that they will try to get as much information about the school as possible. This will include your school’s history, mission, staff members, number of classrooms, notable events, address, contact info, and a lot of other important details. Trying to search for one bit of information can be tedious for site visitors if your website doesn’t have a search box.
How to avoid it? Add a search box that can easily be accessed anywhere from your website. Search functionality not only puts relevant information at users’ fingertips, but it can alsohelp you identify possible flaws in your website’s structure or flow. Schools may find that parents often search for an internally linked page that could better serve visitors in the navigation menu.
Poor Layout and Resolution
In years past, choosing a webpage layout was a straightforward task because most people were expected to access websites through computers with very similar displays. However, the same approach to website design no longer works these days because people can now access school websites using computers with large displays and smartphones with barely a few inches of screen to work with. What looks great and spacious when viewed on a full-sized computer monitor will look crowded and messy when viewed on mobile.
How to avoid it? Use a responsive layout when designing your website. A responsive layout will automatically resize, hide, or show certain elements of your website depending on the device used to view it. Users will always see a clutter-free website whether they’re on their computer screens or smartphones, and they will have an easier time exploring your website.
Too Much Flair
Having a few neat visuals incorporated in your website is good, but many inexperienced web designers often make the mistake of going overboard. Having too many effects like moving backgrounds, sparkling buttons, and other unnecessary effects don’t just make the website look garish, but also inconvenient to visit since the effects require more data to load. Even worse, it makes the school website look unprofessional, leaving first-time visitors with a poor impression of your school.
How to avoid it? Always try to make the website as professional as possible. People prefer simple, efficient designs over flamboyant ones. You can still add a few effects, but mostly those that do not add to the visual clutter. It is advised that you include fading buttons, smoother text scrolling, and other effects that make the webpage look clean and classy.
Poor Page Priority
There will always be certain pages in a school website that are more likely to be visited by users. Unfortunately, some of these pages may require several clicks from the homepage. As a result, site visitors will have to jump from one link to another just to get to those pages, causing a lot of inconveniences.
How to avoid it? Good web design puts a heavy emphasis on efficiency. Use a CMS tool to properly sort out content and make it so the most visited pages like the calendar and contact info pages can be accessed with just a single click from the home page. At the very least, make sure every page can be accessed in just a few clicks at most.
Using Inefficient File Types
Your school website is likely to have some audio and video files on it. While this is a standard feature for almost any website that has a gallery, it’s still possible to get things wrong in this area. Some file types are simply too big, which can slow down the page’s loading speed. Slow load times prevent users from freely navigating your website and make page transitions look bad in general.
How to avoid it? If possible, stick to more compact file types. For example, you can replace large BMP files with JPEG or PNG files and replace AVI video files with WebM or mp4. If you really need content with large files (full resolution images or video), you can have a direct downloadable link to those files and replace the samples with smaller versions to speed up loading times and minimize disruptions.
Designing your school’s official website may seem like an involved task, but it’s actually just a matter of keeping things simple, clean, and efficient. By understanding how to use powerful web design tools and platforms, you can create a school website that will not only attract parents and students, but even encourage them to visit more often.