A 2012 report published that there were over 24,000 schools educating 8.2 million pupils across the UK.
These schools were a mix of nursery schools, state-funded primary schools, state-funded secondary schools, special schools, pupil referral units and independent schools.
Of the thousands of state-funded and independent primary schools, there are only a select percentage that fall in the category of ‘outstanding websites’ as far as we’re concerned.
Web design creation and implementation is an art form, and educational institutions such as primary schools need to follow a set of distinct guidelines, when creating and maintaining a website for both parents and pupils to access and navigate.
There are several things that all of the top primary school websites in the UK must have in common.
A Personal and Welcoming Homepage
The homepage is the first thing that a parent or pupil will view as they are navigated from a search engine onto your school website.
It’s a shop window for prospective new parents to peruse as they weigh up what your primary school has to offer their child.
It’s got to entice, engage, invite, and inform viewers as they aim to get a feel for your school’s personality and what the school has to offer.
The homepage sets the tone for the entire school and acts as a doorway into the corridors and syllabus of your institution.
All homepages should include:
A personal introduction
This introduction should include a brief summary of the school, an overview of the schools’ location, and a friendly explanation of what to expect from the school website. All of this writing should be warm and inviting in tone. It’s not just children that have fear around going to school. Parents face the task of deciding their children’s future, so warmth and compassion can go a long way.
A message from the headteacher
Keep this message warm and consistent in tone with the rest of the homepage copy. This paragraph or two really sets the bar for the schools’ tone and personality so make sure it reflects it well, and makes people feel safe and welcome.
A guiding purpose
Visitors go to a school website with a purpose in mind. Therefore, it’s important for them to be able to access and find information with ease. Clear navigation and an uncluttered website, combined with instructional and educational copy, will ensure ease of access to all information.
83% of search query paths begin with an unbranded term, (such as best schools near me), your school’s homepage needs to easily answer five key questions right away to help searchers realise they are in the right place.
What does your school do?
What makes your school unique?>
How can I learn more?
Where can I find you?
Will I fit in?
Clear Cut Navigation
As mentioned above, clear navigation is paramount on all websites, especially school websites as they can hold a wealth of information on a wide range of topics.
Most school websites use an intuitive navigational system. This means that most visitors will find the information that they need, exactly where they expect to find it.
Intuitive navigation uses the following principles.
Simple/Concise Navigation Tabs
Try and keep the number of tabs available on the main navigation bar between five and seven. Visitors can become overwhelmed and confused when there appear to be too many options available. Crowded menus can also create confusion.
Sub Menus for Related Content
Grouping options together in drop-down menus beneath or alongside the navigation tabs is a great way of displaying information without overloading website users’ brains and causing confusion.
Hyperlinking text so that users can happily hop from one page to another to follow related content is a fantastic way to streamline the user journey and display relevant information easily.
Sensible Headings and Labels
Straightforward titles and headings make life a lot easier for people when trying to navigate through a website. If the link is to a lunch menu… Label it ‘Lunch Menu’… Make sure important information is easy to locate and access for all people.
Clearly Defined Links and Buttons
If something is clickable on your primary school website. Make sure that it stands out and that the link works. This is incredibly useful and really helps users find their way through your website with ease.
Keep the content engaging and informative throughout the website.
Make sure your tone and personality are similar throughout your website and really reflect that of your staff and school in general.
Keep it upbeat and positive so that your visitors stick around. Use a conversational tone in order to entice further communication with the reader.
Documents and Valid Information
Make sure that you upload all documents and information that will help parents, governors, pupils, and prospective parents as they get involved with your school.
Think about all of your frequently asked questions and address these concerns directly in the appropriate areas of your website.
Try and include relevant blogs that highlight the excellent standards, work, and achievements of your school. You may also consider providing links to community initiatives that the school is involved in, or relevant news stories.
Make sure you include clear calls to action right across the board on your website.
Clear Layout and Design
Utilise Necessary Blank Space
A seasoned web designer recognises the effectiveness of blank space. Websites need to breathe…, Ample blank space helps with the flow of reading and de-clutters the screen leaving the design nice and easy on the eye, without disrupting the clarity of information available.
Good Quality Images and Responsive Design
The images that you include on your school website are going to sell your school, your staff, the learning environment, and the facilities available.
Make sure they are clear, high quality, and enticing for all website viewers. Make sure that they are streamlined with the overall design and colour scheme of the school. Above all, make sure they truly represent your school and the values that you hold as a melting pot of creativity and education.
Over 52% of website traffic comes from mobile phone and tablets. Your website has to be designed to load clearly and responsively across all devices. Failure to do this can be embarrassing for schools, and disappointing for users!