Website of the Week: The Orchards

Published: October 27, 2015

There’s a common debate amongst our consultants over the best style for a school website. Some prefer a more traditional, child-friendly approach, with bright colours, illustrations and simple fonts; others look towards a more modern, professional style, with an emphasis on clean lines and elegant designs. The design of Orchards Free School’s website manages to show that the two are not mutually exclusive.
The bright colours reinforce its primary school status, while the layout and overall design give a more professional air, suited to a 21st-century institution. The use of cartoons and illustrations befits the institution – it won’t have any photos until its opening in 2016 – this is a school that’s proactive and future-thinking.
One of the first interesting features that jumps out is the presence of clickable areas in the site’s banner, clearly labelled and surrounded by child-friendly graphics. The theme of green and purple as contrasting colours helps the differently-shaded buttons to stand out. Scrolling down the page, text is kept to a minimum.

Additionally, it’s very clear what the school’s aim is – to provide SEN education as part of a wider multi-academy trust – this is something mentioned often, so parents know exactly what they’re getting. As the school hasn’t actually opened yet, this is important. We can also see a good usage of the School Jotter signup forms feature on the “register your interest” page, encouraging prospective parents to sign up to be notified. This will notify the school staff automatically with any relevant information. Elsewhere, forms are also used on the consultation page, in order to canvas opinions – a great use of the tool.
Overall what we’ve got at Orchards is a well-designed, clearly-laid-out school website that’s modern, welcoming and a joy to use.