Creating educational websites
Summer has almost come to its end and the school days are a step closer. Schools today are aiming to be more open to the world, and embrace modern technologies quickly. Modern schoolers, ones that we call Millennials, spend most of their time online. No wonder that more and more educational establishments are going online and launching educational websites to keep in touch with this community and promote their values to potential applicants.
Building educational websites may be an easy thing if you know what to pay attention to. It’s essential to create a strategy from the beginning and follow it. Here are the most important steps and the vital characteristics a school website should have to gain success.
Choose a platform
Finding the best platform to create a spot for school online is the first and foremost step. There are tons of platforms that offer different kind of services, sets of features, widgets and plugins. Platforms may provide different types of customer support and levels of security. All these characteristics should be checked and evaluated from the very beginning.
One should also decide the ease of use of a particular platform. Website, especially a school website, is not a static form. It should grow, improve its content, performance, usability and design. Therefore, it’s essential to be easy-to-tweak and easy-to-use from both sides: an owner’s and a user’s ones. Today, CMS (content management systems) is one of the best choices for educational websites since they offer a high level of support, an effortless customization process and availability even for amateurs. The main characteristics a good website builder has are as following:
- Responsiveness. The website should easily adjust to various screens with minimum efforts from an owner’s side;
- SEO-friendliness. The theme one chooses should allow setting up all the SEO-essential tricks, such as META-tags, headlines, keywords etc. It should also allow integration with Google analytics to track the website traffic and performance;
- Comprehensive admin panel. The easier the process of tweaking and content adding will be – the better;
- Third-party stuff integration. There should be ways of effortless integration of Google Maps widget, Live Chats etc.
Define your audience
Knowing your audience and what it expects from your website is the key to setting up proper design and implementing a good layout on your website. Thus, if you offer tuition services or study groups for smaller children, you should make your website appeal for both, children and their parents. If it’s an official website of a college, it should provide value for kids that attend this college.
You can make your aims clearer to the audiences with a help of design. Thus, kids club or kindergarten websites should have more color, they may include more interactive elements that attract the attention of smaller children. Educational websites for colleges or universities should be more elegant and information-focused.
Set up your goals
There are mostly two kinds of educational websites across the Internet:
- Informational. Such website is a kind of a brochure that provides the info about classes, teachers, programs. It may contain the timetable where each student can get the info about classes they have a particular day etc.
- Membership website. This kind of a school website allows logging in and getting the latest info about a student’s progress at school/college, submitting a work to a tutor, creating community of groupmates etc.
Both types should be information-loaded and have the entire info that users may need for educational process. But a membership website should be more secure and provide a handy log-in functionality. In any case, you can start with an informational website and then add plugins and widgets that will help users logging in, appointing meetings with tutors, setting up timetables, creating group chats and much more.
Improve website’s functionality
Speaking about plugins and functionality, educational websites should provide the best user experience and thus offer the functionality a schooler or a tutor may need. Aside from traditional elements such as About page, Contact page with all the contacts and a Map widget, Our Staff page with photos and bio of all teachers who work in this institution, a school website should have a blog and a news feed to provide the best amount of information about classes, events, educational programs and other opportunities.
As I mentioned earlier, Live Chat integration could a be a perfect addition to a school or a college website. Thus, such educational websites that provide various courses can offer live consulting about the conditions, teaching staff, materials and other info.
In case you create a membership website, you should add a perfect enrollment form. The most important thing here is making it clean and simple. Avoid adding many required fields. Thus, if you don’t have plans to contact your users by phone, you can skip a Phone number field. You can also remove fields about their age, courses they wish to attend etc. All this info can be added after registration if needed.
Add some nice media
Photo galleries, infographics, and images are not the only visual elements that can improve website’s design and provide some info to users. Videos can be widely used to show the students reviews or demonstrate the inner life of an institution. You can post educational videos for the students, add lectures podcasts etc.
You can thus add some interactive elements like surveys or polls that will engage the audience and at the same time will drive more potential customers color. These surveys as well will help you to understand how can a learning process can be improved and what issues users have with a website.
For sure, educational websites should include social integration and allow users quickly share the news and events to their social media accounts. Newsletter subscription can become handy. But the main idea here is making a highly-informational website that will be easy to use.
Also, a reliable and secure hosting provider should be chosen. Thus, website owners will save themselves from multiple maintenance issues and as well as prevents frustration from users wishing to access website. And remember: a perfectly functioning website with logical structure is far better than just a beautiful design with fancy images but awful structure.