Your website is your school’s chance to make a powerful first impression.
If someone with no knowledge of your school’s past achievements, results, or history arrived on your site, what would they take away from it? Even before visitors read a word of your content, they will still form immediate opinions based on the overall design and layout.
They should get a feel for your school’s values and goals within seconds, without having to root through blocks of text or search for information on other websites. According to the Department for Education, there are a number of critical factors that must appear on maintained schools websites:
- School contact details
- Ofsted reports
- Admission arrangements
- Exams and assessment results
- School complains
- Behaviour policy
- PE and sport premium (for primary schools)
- Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium
- Governors’ information and duties
- Performance tables
- Special educational needs and disability information
- Equality objectives
- Charging and remissions policies
- Values and ethos
- Requests for paper copies
As you can see, this is a fairly extensive list, but simply incorporating all of the features outlined above into your website is not enough. You also have to consider:
Offer Smooth Navigation and Accessibility
Simple layout and intuitive navigation are vital for good school websites. Every visitor – be they a parent, a guardian, a pupil, a governor – should be able to find the information they need with minimal effort.
Said resources should be separated into relevant categories and arranged in a logical manner.
Ensure Cross-Device Functionality
School websites should be accessible on desktop and mobile devices alike, to cater to users regardless of their location.
Your website should be optimised for handheld devices and smaller screens, to avoid slow load times or low-quality visuals.
Embrace Visual Content
While text is obviously important to relate essential information to visitors, images and video play a huge part in how your website is received.
Provide users with a comprehensive gallery of your school and grounds. Showcase your most attractive classrooms, your pupils’ past work, your sports facilities, your ICT suites, and more. You want to offer parents and prospective pupils an insight into your school’s everyday look and feel, but don’t just display the areas you are most proud of – give visitors a broad overview of your entire school.
The best way to see what your school website should look like is to explore some of the best online today.
Four Examples of Outstanding School Web Design
Warden Park Secondary Academy
Warden Park Secondary School’s website is a terrific example of exceptional school web design. It’s bright, colourful, and benefits from an incredibly-accessible layout which makes finding all the information you need incredibly easy.
The homepage boasts strong visual media, with a changing set of images presenting a glimpse of the school grounds, the different types of education it offers, and more. A well-written roster of updates is inluded, keeping parents informed of the school’s latest achievements, term breaks, fundraising activities, and other key news.
At the bottom of the homepage, there is a selection of icons directing you to the site’s different sections, including ‘Information for Parents’, ‘Information for Students’, ‘Career Opportunities’, ‘Contact Us’, ‘Curriculum’, and a few others.
At the top of the homepage, you will find clickable buttons taking you to their newsletter, calendar, contact details, and Twitter profile. The menu button reveals numerous options, demonstrating how strong the website’s layout is.
Overall, the white and blue colour scheme keeps the site clean, neat, and easy on the eye across both desktop and mobile devices.
Asquith Primary School
Primary schools should be warm, friendly, inviting places – and Asquith Primary School’s website reflects that.
The homepage is beautifully designed, featuring soft colours and a simple interface. The school’s logo, incorporating its name and motto (‘growing to succeed’), is presented in a gentle yellow, while the surrounding deep blues, purples, and greens are vibrant and dynamic. A number of buttons (decorated with icons) offer easy navigation throughout the site.
You can go directly to ‘key information’, ‘curriculum’, ‘parents’, ‘pupil zone’, and ‘contact’ at just the click of a button, without having to scour the site. Contact details are presented at the top right of the page, with the school’s full address, the name of the headteacher, and the phone number. The website benefits from fast responsiveness, too, with fast loading times.
Guardian Angels Catholic Primary School’s
The Guardian Angels Catholic Primary School website incorporates a bold mixture of yellows, blacks, and whites, grabbing your attention as soon as you arrive.
The logo is a striking visual, and its black-and-white colour scheme contrasts strikingly with the yellow behind it – creating a strong first impression on screens of any size. To the right, the school’s full address, contact number and email address, and headteacher’s name are all present.
The website’s homepage includes strong visuals, with each link to subsequent pages accompanied by an attractive, professional photograph of the school’s pupils. All of the most important sections are accessible instantly, including ‘about us’, ‘newsletter’, ‘upcoming events’, and more.
Another excellent addition to the homepage is the personal letter written by the headteacher, welcoming visitors to the site and outlining the school’s values.
Meols Cop High School
The Meols Cop High School website places a strong slideshow of images at the heart of its homepage, presenting a number of its pupils, the school grounds, and classes underway; you get a real sense of the school’s identity and inclusiveness in a matter of seconds.
One particularly effective part of the website is the year 7 parent’s evening survey results on the homepage, providing an honest breakdown of how newcomers and their parents responded to the school. This is an innovative addition that demonstrates how well the school fares in a key area.
The calendar, current vacancies, news updates, and other features are all present on the homepage too, turning it into a hub of information. Visitors can learn a great deal about the school, its values, its goals, and its successes from this one page.
The four websites explored above incorporate the crucial features we discussed earlier: great school web design, accessibility, cross-device compatibility, and the criteria specified by the Department of Education. Every school should invest in a high-quality website that reflects their ‘brand’ and presents visitors with everything they need to know.