Key points
  • Your website is the number one tool for your school marketing: it’s the online representation of your brand, and it’s often your first chance to make a good impression on a prospective family.
  • It takes a user 0.05 seconds to make a judgement about your school based on your website, so it’s important that you get it right.
  • There are several signs that your website is due for an update, from responsivity to functionality and integration. Read on to see if your site is due a refresh!

Do you ever check out other school websites and feel that yours is looking a little dated? If you’ve had this inkling, it’s probably best to take it as a sign that your website needs some work. We’ve written previously about how your website is your number one marketing tool. It’s almost always the first impression that a prospective family will have with your school, and it’s the representation of your brand online.

It only takes users around 0.05 seconds to decide whether they love or hate your school website design — and that judgement may affect how they feel about your school overall. Now that’s a lot of pressure! Your website is your big chance to make an impact, so if you think your current design has some room to improve, here are five key signs that will confirm your suspicion. Let’s take a look! 

1. Your website isn’t responsive

Let’s get one thing straight: if your school website isn’t optimised for mobile, you’re putting your school at a significant disadvantage. As of early 2021, almost 55% of global website traffic is drawn from mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. This means, without a responsive website, you are alienating over half of your potential website visitors. Responsive sites automatically resize so that the design, text and images fit perfectly on various devices.

Having a mobile-friendly website is also incredibly important for capitalising on your search engine optimisation (SEO). Google has been prioritising and ranking mobile-friendly websites for years, so if you’re struggling to appear in relevant searches, a responsive website is a great place to start. If you’re not sure whether your website is responsive, paste your URL into Google’s mobile-friendly test to find out. If the test results show that your school website isn’t mobile-friendly, your website is due for an update! 

2. You don’t have a content management system (CMS)

A content management system, or CMS, allows you to log into your website’s backend and update content without the need for any coding language or knowledge. If you’re currently engaging with developers to make small changes or add new things to your website, your team is wasting a lot of time and effort. 

If this sounds like you, it’s time to implement a CMS. If you want to add new pages, text, images, rich media or videos to your school website design, all you need to do is log into the CMS to make these changes quickly. When you engage with a developer, check that they’re building your website on a CMS platform and, if they are, make sure they will provide you with adequate training so that your staff can confidently and effectively make the changes you need. 

3. Your website doesn't integrate with your other systems

To operate successfully, most schools have a range of software systems in their arsenal. You also likely use several online tools to communicate with your community — for example, through social media or your school app. Did you know that your school website can integrate with your other systems

Integration allows your website to ‘talk’ to your other systems, sending information back and forth. When you collect data in one system, such as a form on your website, a solid integration will send that data into any other methods that need the information — for example, your customer relationship manager (CRM). Integration also ensures that when you update information in one place, it updates that information across all of your relevant systems. 

If your current school website provider can’t set up integrations between your systems, it’s almost certainly time for an update! Without integration, you’re wasting your team’s valuable time and opening your school up to inconsistencies across your systems. 

4. Your bounce rate is high

If you’re tracking your website’s analytics, one key metric you should be monitoring is your school website’s bounce rate. If you aren’t familiar with a bounce rate, it’s a statistic that tells you the percentage of people who visit your website and leave immediately. All websites will have a bounce rate, but an exceptionally high bounce rate can be concerning.  

As a rule of thumb, a bounce rate higher than 70% usually indicates that there’s something about your website that’s deterring visitors. This can include: 

  • irrelevant content
  • an overwhelming amount of text
  • a confusing or outdated design
  • poor navigation
  • a slow website speed
  • a lack of mobile responsiveness.

You only have a few seconds to grab a user’s attention, so your website must deliver on their expectations. This means your website has relevant, accurate content and a great user experience. If you have a hunch that your website isn’t delivering these things, then you guessed it! It’s time to give your site a refresh.

5. Your data collection is proving challenging

Capturing prospective parent information is the key to growing your school’s community and maximising your enrolments. With the correct data, you can nurture leads through every stage of your marketing funnel, from awareness to enrolment. 

There are a few key places that you’ll want to be capturing these contact details on your school website, such as your:

  • Contact page
  • ‘Book a tour’ page
  • Enrolments form
  • Event registration forms.

If the current forms on your website make it difficult to collect data, you may be missing this crucial information. Analysing website form data will allow you to learn things about your users, such as their location, contact details, and how many children they have. You must design forms that convert by choosing form objectives, clear labels, and creating an easy to navigate design. 

Do you think that the forms on your website aren’t up to scratch? Your admissions team is almost certainly missing out. This means it’s time for an update.

Bonus sign: your school website design looks tired

We mentioned it at the top of the article because this should be a no-brainer. However, to cover all our bases, let’s state it plainly: if your website design feels out-of-date, it’s time for an update! If you’re embarrassed to tell people your URL or send families to your social media rather than your website, you’re likely well aware that the design isn’t reflective of your school.

When you’re looking for a team or agency to develop your new school website, consider whether they have an in-house design team who can work side by side with developers. Designers worth their salt can create something that showcases your brand and provides an impressive user experience.

This leads us to...

Planning your website update

If these signs sound all too familiar, it’s time to start a website redevelopment project. Don’t stress — it’s not a daunting task at all… if you choose the right developers. Here at Digistorm, we help schools create fully responsive website designs that optimise the user experience across multiple devices and operating systems. Because of this, you can rest assured that users will be visiting a website on their mobile devices that is easy to read and navigate. 

If your site is ready for an overhaul, take a look at our free resource: The ultimate guide to school website design. We’ll walk you through everything you’ll need to know when planning your website update. Check it out!

Published 5 October 2021