School Jotter Podcast – School Web Design, Accessibility and School Podcasting

Published: May 24, 2023

School Jotter Podcasts

School Jotter Podcast – Website Accessibility

School Jotter Podcast – School Podcasting

Top 3 Features That Are A Must-have For A School Website Calendar

Published: January 9, 2023

Around 41% of parents agree that they would like their child’s school to communicate with them more often.

School communication, both internally between teachers and students and externally with parents is one of the foundations of effective all-around learning.

School website calendars are a means for schools to organise school events as well as keep everyone from teachers, staff, students, and parents in the loop about the happenings at school.

Let us take a look at ways to optimise the functionality of your website calendar that strengthens communication between schools, students, and parents.

3 features of a school website calendar

A school website calendar is a schedule of all school events during an academic year displayed on the school website for everyone to see and use. School staff, students, and parents use this to keep up with the school events and not miss out on anything.

A regular school website calendar will include:

● Term time dates

● School holidays

● Activities and events such as Sports Day, Book Fair, etc.

● Examination dates

● Inset days & teacher training dates

Here are the 3 features that are a must-have for your school website calendar.

1. User-friendly for parents and staff

The purpose of a school calendar is to help teachers and students pre-plan activities and stay ahead in their curriculum. This is why the most important feature your calendar needs to have is user-friendliness and ease of use.

The calendar loses all its purpose if the people it is meant for are not able to use it the way it is intended. The interface should be personalised, meaning a user will only see events that pertain to them.

For example, a student who has opted for drama classes but not for music classes should be able to view all drama class-related events and no events related to music classes. This keeps the calendar from becoming too convoluted.

Secondly, not everyone is well-versed with technology. They should be able to view and use a calendar without putting in much work. Steps to set reminders and highlight events should be simplified.

2. Personalization and customization

Another important feature to have is one that facilitates personalization. Parents and staff should be able to use the calendar how they wish to. This could be in the form of highlighting events that pertain to them or hiding/silencing ones that don’t.

We have already talked about setting the calendar to your personal setting such as only seeing events related to the classes you are a part of or interested in. This helps in keeping the calendar clean and organised.

People can always access the ‘master calendar’ to view all the events at once whenever they want. Moreover, you should make sure that people with disabilities are also able to have a personalised experience with your calendar.

3. Mobile-friendly experience

Over 55% of website views come from mobile. Your school website calendar should provide a mobile-friendly experience to make it accessible to all. See if the font, images, and graphics are well-suited for a mobile layout or not.

A way to put your school calendar in the parent’s pockets is via mobile apps. Make your calendar a key feature in your school mobile app. Enable it with features such as notifications and mobile-friendly UI & UX.

This has the dual effect of not having to remind parents or teachers to check school calendars regularly. And they will receive reminders about events with ease. They will not have to go to the school calendar on the website anymore, the school calendars will come to them, so to speak.


School calendars are an excellent way to keep everyone associated with schools in the loop about their workings. When creating a school website calendar, your focus should be on making it user-friendly and accessible.

Everyone from the staff, parents, teachers, and students should be able to view events that pertain to them and plan for them accordingly. Making them Mobile-friendly goes a long way in integrating school calendars into the daily life of people seamlessly.

Top 5 criteria to build a school app

Published: November 14, 2022

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” – Charles Darwin

The scope of mobile apps lie beyond shopping, gaming and binge watching. Thanks to school apps, parents can now stay connected to their child’s school via mobile. This ensures they never miss out on any important information. Let’s glance over some of the benefits of school apps.

  • Dispenses news and updates related to events, class timings, schedule, courses, competitions and much more
  • Serves as a quick reference point for events calendars, school policies, news etc
  • Promotes events, sponsorships, fundraisers, volunteer services to reach out to more parents

After assessing the wide-ranging benefits of school apps, let us take a look at some of the criteria for establishing a school app.

Top 5 criteria you need to consider 

The way we learn and teach has undergone a sea change in the post-pandemic world. School apps have bridged the gap between teachers and learners, creating a simpler and engaging learning experience.

Here are the top 5 factors you need to consider as you set out to create a robust and multifunctional school app:

  1. Reach out to parents

Your school app should facilitate the process of reaching out to parents. Ensure the process of registration and login are safe and secure for parents. The content should be streamlined for your targeted audience. Thus, parents ought to be able to view the latest updates relevant to their child’s class or year group.

  1. Provide up-to-date news, letters and integrated calendars 

You should be able to share the latest school updates and notifications so that all stakeholders are kept in the loop regarding the most recent school news. Another key aspect is the use of integrated calendars for keeping key events and reminders easily updated so that users never lose sight of important events and notifications.

  1. Mobile forms for absences and other feedback

Mobile apps are a great opportunity to gather responses straight from parents. Within seconds of launching an app a parent can have notified school administrators of sick days and other absences. Forms can also be setup for feedback on recent events, or anything else you can imagine. Allowing parents to us mobile forms means parents won’t all need to call the school at the same time in the morning, saving time for parents and teachers.

  1. Relive memories with school gallery

Create a dedicated gallery section on your school’s website where you can share photos from events throughout the year. This will evoke a sense of nostalgia and belonging for the existing students. Moreover, newer students and their parents will get a glimpse of all the events and activities of the past couple of years. A walk down memory lane will make your students cherish those moments even more.

  1. Make it user-friendly 

What accounts for a significant and purposeful app experience is the quality of interaction between users and the app. School apps ought to focus on creating simple yet effective UI interfaces that are easy to navigate and appeal to the eyes.

A clear layout, well-designed digital tools, readily accessible features allows users to focus on the task at hand instead of getting distracted by unnecessary features or elaborate layout.


The needs and demands of education are going through a transition phase, especially in the post-Covid era. In the process of prioritising the needs of students, teachers, parents and administrators, let’s not forget the massive utility of a school app. No matter what your goals are or what your budget is, a mobile app is undeniably an invaluable asset that’ll benefit your school in the long run.

SJ3 Mobile App: Standing on the shoulders of giants’

Published: July 11, 2022

The History

The original Jotter Mobile app, as part of the School Jotter 2 suite of products, was a ground-breaking innovation which changed the market for school mobile apps. The app was deeply integrated with school’s websites and provided a real benefit to parents and schools alike, namely that content could be shared directly into the pockets of parents, instantly, and for a far cheaper price than traditional printed letters in school bags.

The original app was deployed at more than a thousand schools, and used by hundreds of thousands of parents across the United Kingdom. The app has met with acclaim with more than 3,400 reviews and has averaged 4.6 stars across both the Apple App Store and Google Play, and could be found amongst the Top 20 educational apps on the App Store.

Since its launch in 2016, the app has been improved a number of times. The original concept of many separate apps was changed and apps combined into one, benefitting parents with children in multiple schools needing only a single app to access all of school life. Features such as direct messaging were added, and even a unique video-calling option was developed to support remote education during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Opportunity

Our investment in the School Jotter 3 platform presented an opportunity to take stock of the success and consider feedback, both the good and not-as-good, that we received from the parents and schools who used the original mobile app. 

As we began the School Jotter 3 project we were able to factor in the mobile app from day 1, whereas with School Jotter 2 we had to bolt on the mobile app functionality after the platform had been in use for a number of years. This allowed us to change the way that content is built within the new School Jotter 3 content modules and syndicated to both the website and the mobile app.

Logins by Default

One of the core differences is that we now require logins for all users of the apps. This change was done to ensure that the app would work consistently for all users and to provide the best long-term user experience. With the School Jotter 2 app, logins were optional, however, we found that this could confuse parents who might miss messages as they did not realise they were not logged in.

Our approach is akin to Facebook – you log in to the app and then remain logged in until you want to log out or switch to use a different phone. If you are logged out you will see the login box, which is clearer to a parent than showing a padlock in the corner of the home screen. This decision was the result of many discussions as we were aware that this requires a little extra setup initially.

To ease the onboarding of parents we have switched to generating registration codes, using MIS data, rather than requiring schools to set up and maintain usernames and passwords. These registration codes can be sent to parents as letters by mail merge (or via a text-messaging platform) and parents are then free to register with their own email address and a password of their choice. This also simplifies password resets as parents are in control of their accounts.

Modern Design

A new app was a new opportunity for a redesign, again giving space for us to rethink the choices we made the first time around. Our new design strives to give parents clear and immediate access to the information they need, while still keeping enough branding so that our customers feel it is an accurate representation of their own identity and ethos.

When designing the new app we decided to take a content-first approach. This included a pared-down design that doesn’t distract from the content that schools are presenting to parents. Of course, the app still makes use of the school name, logo, motto, and colors – but in a way that is sympathetic to the content itself. In order to validate the designs we built the whole app using Adobe XD to prototype the look and feel of the app, and the feedback to this from customers and user groups was overwhelmingly positive.

As with all technology, the last 6 years have seen significant progress in terms of tools, trends, and evolving user expectations. In building the new app we aim to have taken advantage of the best progress made, and we intend to keep building upon this over the lifecycle of the new app for many years to come. Our new design allows us to make changes down the road without negatively affecting the branding, which we think is a better prospect for our customers.

Content Targeting

It is important with any communication tool to make sure that the right messages and content reaches the right audience; the opposite is also true – our lives are busy and hectic enough already without unwanted pings from irrelevant push notifications interrupting our days!

With the original app, there were settings for parents to opt-out or opt-in to categories of content, with categories being set up for year groups, classes, or anything else a school decided. This worked well in theory, however what was seen was that near-universally parents never changed these settings from default. This meant that parents received all the updates, even those which were not relevant to them and their children.

A key change in the School Jotter 3 mobile app is that content can be targeted to parents based on what is relevant to them, crucially – without any setup required by the parent themselves. We achieve this by allowing all content to be tagged as public or private, and being associated with a particular group or groups of parents. This works for the content that is shown within the app and for the push notifications which are triggered when content is added or scheduled to appear. By syncing data from the school’s MIS and linking up parents, students, and classes the majority of the ‘hard-lifting’ is automatically done by the system.

The Future

With the new mobile app being introduced at the very start of the School Jotter 3 lifecycle, we envision that the new app will have a longer lifespan than its predecessor. This allows us to take a long-term view on the roadmap of the product, and the app that parents use in 5 years will not necessarily offer the same features of the app today.

By building the mobile app in tandem with the new platform we can ensure that any new features added to the School Jotter 3 system can also be adopted in future versions of the mobile app. This could involve messaging, booking parents evenings or booking equipment, payments, or things which aren’t even on our radar yet.

We are excited and proud to launch the new mobile app and we look forward to schools joining us on the next major chapter of our School Jotter platform. To find out more or for a demo of our app please call us on 0113 3200 750 or email

How to personalise your school brand with a school website

Published: June 28, 2022

Branding refers to the “image” associated with your product or organisation and how this “image” is strategically defined in the eyes of your target audience. Anything that makes your product unique forms a part of its brand. This includes the company’s name, logo, tagline, and website.

Now, how is branding related to schools? Well, irrespective of the industry type, a strong brand is an immensely valuable asset.

It draws attention to the amazing work your school is doing and enables parents to know what to expect from the institute. They can make an informed decision based on authentic information conveyed through smart branding. 

Let’s glance over some of the benefits of school branding.

●  Allows your uniqueness to shine through

●  Instils trust and confidence

●  Creates a sense of belonging

●  Allows students and staff to forge an emotional bond with your school

●  Marketing becomes seamless and organic

●  Attracts the most competent staff

Let us take a look at some of the top elements of a school website brand.

Top 7 elements of a school website brand

School websites encapsulate almost everything one needs to know about a school. They’re a storehouse of information, performing multiple tasks and catering to families, prospective staff, as well as meeting Ofsted guidelines.

Here are the top 7 elements for creating an successful brand that can tilt the scale in favour of your school:

1.   Brand Promise: Stand by what you say 

A brand promise states the school’s purpose in no uncertain terms. It serves as a guide for an effective marketing strategy and ensures you’re accountable for delivering a message that is at par with the customer experience.

Ensure your promises are genuine and backed by consistent performance. If there’s a discrepancy between what you promise and what you eventually deliver, your brand’s popularity will take a hit.

2.   Positioning Statement: When words ring true  

Often, it’s the short and simple phrases that linger for a long time. Trust those gripping taglines to sum up your school’s brand promise in the most memorable way!

Crisp and concise at two to six words, these statements resonate with prospective and existing families likewise. Besides “sounding good”, the taglines should be in sync with your school’s ideals and principles.

3.   Visual Identity: Seeing is believing

More recognition equates greater trust. Thus, elevate your brand stature by creating a strong visual identity with appropriate logos and colour palette.

This is one investment you won’t regret. Make your branding style guide easily accessible to staff and faculty through the school’s website. Back it up with a list of do’s and don’ts so that your brand’s image remains untarnished.

4.   Differentiators: What makes you different?

Besides the visual differentiators, try relying on quick facts, statistics, and infographics to put across your points. Visitors would be at ease recalling key facts from a sea of information. Sprinkle these statistics on the oft-visited pages of your website and watch the impact they create.

5.   Personality: Let yourself be heard

What you say and how you say it makes a lot of difference. As your brand is the truest reflection of who you are, be mindful of the tone and tenor of the language used to represent your school in the public domain.

Adhere to grammar rules and ensure there’s consistency in terminology and degree of formality. Different people from different backgrounds may contribute to your website’s content. The overall language should be aligned with the brand’s values and promises.

6.   Brand Communications: Convey and Connect

For communications to be effective and impactful, try adopting a multi-layered approach. Reach out to parents, students and your staff through newsletters, emails, contests, banners, notices on school boards. Keep an eye on details to ensure every time you communicate, it becomes a natural extension of the brand’s core values.

7.   Brand Story: Stories that stay with you

Once you’ve completed the above steps, it’s time to put out poignant stories that’ll generate positive buzz and bring in the right families. Here, testimonials come in handy.

A truly heart-felt testimonial has the power to appease anxious parents and affirm their faith in the school. Brand stories encompass newsletters, blogs, social media posts and almost anything you share online and offline.


A focused and consistent approach to school branding displays a degree of professionalism and shows how seriously the school pursues its standards of excellence.

With the right branding strategy, your school can stand out from its competitors and make a lasting impression in the minds of impressionable young kids and their concerned parents. 

Upcoming Webinars from the School Jotter Team

Category: Events,School Jotter

Published: May 26, 2022

Find out more about the series of webinars that will be hosted throughout the month of June. 

  1. School Jotter website training 

Liam and Charlotte from the School Jotter Delivery and Support Team will be hosting this webinar and will cover the following:

  • What you need to know about school website development 
  • The journey of the School Jotter website
  • Pre-requisites and things to consider before building a school website

  1. Make Your Website Ofsted Ready

This webinar is significant for those who would like to make their website Ofsted inspection ready. It will be hosted by Lawrence Contreras, one of the most experienced Account Managers in the School Jotter team.

We will cover the following in this session:

  • How to structure your website to help you achieve an outstanding grade in Ofsted
  • How to make your website easier to navigate for current parents
  • How to use your website to promote your school to prospective parents and staff

  1. Improve online communication with parents

In this session, we’ll discuss effective online communication with parents. This webinar will be hosted by Sam and will cover the following:

  • How your website can be structured to make it easier for parents to find relevant information 
  • Why and how messaging is important for parents
  • How you can use mobile apps to enhance parent communication
  • How you can reduce admin costs and costs in postage, paper etc. to support a greener environment

  1. How to attract new parents to your school

This webinar focuses on how to attract new parents to your school website. It will be hosted by members of our expert team and will cover the following:

  • How you can represent your school brand and values to best attract new parents
  • The basics of getting you higher in Google search results  — including, page copy, page descriptions, and Google My Business

We’ll have a further series of events in the new academic year — if you’d like us to cover a particular subject, please get in touch

Top 6 reasons why your school should switch to an online calendar system

Published: January 31, 2022

Does your school still use a paper-based diary to maintain the important dates and events? 

Understandably, shifting from old-school traditions takes time but if your school is not taking advantage of paperless solutions, such as an online calendar, it truly is missing out on opportunities to save valuable time. 

An online calendar is a significant tool that helps in not only keeping your diary organised but also makes communication easier and streamlines existing processes to make them more efficient. 

If that got you interested in using an online calendar, then take some time to go through the significant benefits listed below. 

  1. It is sustainable 

With constant updates and communication around climate change, a sense of awareness has been created about being more responsible towards being sustainable and eco-friendly. It makes all the more sense to move away from paper-based solutions and adopt paperless solutions. 

Online calendars work best in reducing the digital footprint of your organisation as well as paper wastage. 

  1. It is secured

A physical diary is always exposed to security threats owing to its nature of being portable and vulnerable. You might easily lose it or damage it, and there is no chance of it having a backup. 

With an online calendar, these challenges do not surface at all. You can easily link an online calendar to your email and also password protect it at all times. The best part is you can easily back it up on cloud to avoid any loss of data. 

  1. It helps you save time 

With a physical diary, you have to keep on adding the meetings and events as and when they happen, else you might forget to appear at the right time. 

However, with an online calendar, you can save plenty of time by creating an event once and setting it up on a daily, monthly, or weekly basis by changing just a few settings. Also, if you have attendees for your meeting, they will get automatic updates if the meeting is cancelled or the dates are modified.

  1. It is easy to coordinate

In the new normal of remote working, if you had to physically collate appointments from the calendars of different people, it could turn out to be a really tiring job and even more so if these people are working out of different locations. 

An online calendar is very convenient for the simple fact that it can be accessed from any location in the world and by anyone who needs access to that information. 

  1. It integrates with other platforms

The best thing about an online calendar is that it can very well integrate with other platforms of your school, such as your school website and mobile app. 

If you would like the parents or students to access your online calendar, you can simply sync it with your internal system and the information available on your calendar will be made public. They will easily be able to see the dates of online events and other necessary information they need to access anytime. 

  1. It enhances your productivity levels

Besides all other benefits, you can use an online calendar to boost your productivity levels. 

You can block dedicated slots in your calendar to complete the priority tasks within that time slot. You can either block time to complete an urgent school project or have dedicated one-on-one sessions with your students or other school members. 

Blocking slots also ensures that others do not send any meeting invites during that time or disturbs you with any unnecessary interventions. 


As you can see from the points mentioned above, an online calendar doesn’t just enable you to schedule your online events and meetings, but also acts as a time-saver and productivity enhancer. 

Start using an online calendar today to save your valuable time for handling the most critical functions of your business. If managing an online calendar is your only worry, then you can definitely take the help of School Jotter

Could your secondary school benefit from a mobile app?

Published: January 13, 2022

We all know that smartphones have taken over our lives, but did you know that 87% of the UK population used a smartphone in 2020 and the smartphone to population penetration was 72%? 

With those numbers, it can only make sense for your school to take advantage of this to help increase parental engagement. But how exactly can this be done?

A mobile app for your secondary school could be the perfect solution, getting key messages out to parents, whilst also helping your school to run more efficiently and reduce costs. 

How do school apps enhance communication for secondary schools? 

With a school mobile app, you can significantly improve the quality of communication between your school and parents or guardians. If you do not have a robust communication strategy in place, chances are you will not be able to deliver superior-quality communication. 

Here are a few ways in which you can work on your communication process with a school app:

  • Simplify the onboarding process  — For an app to be successful, you need to make sure as many parents and guardians as possible use it. With our school app, you can onboard parents easily. We offer full training to your staff so they can confidently help parents to get the most out of it.
  • Reduce admin time — Using a digital solution to communicate with parents and guardians means there is a huge drop in additional costs from traditional communication methods, like printed newsletters and updates. It also saves a lot of time for your staff.
  • Provide access to an integrated booking form for events and open days — you can save a huge amount of admin time alone with integrative bookings. Allow teachers to set their availability for parents evenings and open days, and parents can book a lot direct. 
  • Offer better targeted communication — You can send messages to those parents who have not responded to earlier messages, and thereby ramp up the engagement levels. Being able to know which parents have received or read your messages, further enables you to understand how active or engaged they are on the app. Accordingly, you can contact them when they come to the school to pick up their children or set an appointment. 

Let’s consider the next question. 

How does a school app help you save costs? 

Here is a quick look at some of the cost-saving benefits that are offered by a school app: 

  • Saves on printing costs — There is a lot of paper used in the UK schools on a daily basis. Having a school communication app can boost your green credentials and make your journey towards a paperless future easier than ever. 
  • Saves administration efforts — Relying on students to pass on paper notes to their parents and then have the parents communicate with the school authorities can be a really cumbersome process. With a school app, there will not be any wasted communication with the parents. 

If you too are considering a mobile application for your school, try School Jotter. Here are a few features offered by the app that are worth considering:

  • Editable app — Schools can personalise their dashboard, adding and removing links relevant to the time of year
  • Custom design — It pushes the school’s brand and ethos, no boring template look
  • Syncs with website — It seamlessly integrates with the school website and helps to prevent any duplication of work and reduces workload

That brings us to our next question. 

Why should you consider the School Jotter app?

Check out some of the key benefits here:

  • Mobile centre enables you to contact and be contacted by individuals or groups of parents at no cost
  • Get access to the latest news, updates, and information delivered to your mobile at no extra cost
  • Add links to school policies and other important information.
  • Save money with push notifications over a text service that needs to be topped up
  • Syncs with website to prevent any duplication of work and reduces workload

Now if that has convinced you enough, contact our friendly professionals today at School Jotter and enable the parents and students to make the most from their School Jotter mobile school app.  

3 Reasons to Consider Professional Photography for Your School Website

Published: October 19, 2021

Since the pandemic, visits to schools for prospective families have been minimized.  These might continue again in the future, but there may still be many people who are wary of visiting lots of schools in their local area.

Rather than visiting schools, families are now deciding on the potential school for their child: predominantly online. It’s no surprise that your website has to do the heavy lifting when it comes to communicating the value of your school.

Photographs and videography are the first impressions a school can make on its potential suitability for families and students.  

Visuals are hard-wired into our brains as humans. People are 55% more likely to remember information when it is paired with the related image. Research shows we process images 60,000 times faster than text. What do you think of first when I say “Tesla”, not its features but the car itself (or in the same cases, I made you remember Elon Musk!)

If you want to make a strong first impression and create a deeper emotional impact; hiring a professional photographer is a necessity. 

You have to accept the fact that your school is a brand which attracts the right families. Photography and videography can assist in getting your message out to them!

We spend a lot of money creating quality education for students, meet-ups, and professional training for teachers and mentors. Why do we overlook to showcase the value we contribute to the lives of our students?

Here are three important reasons to quit wasting your time and opt for professional photography and videography right away!


  1. Photography showcases authenticity

We know the Friday drawing classes are for creativity and fun. And, students love each bit of it. A trained photographer, like a trained teacher, will do their best to get that message across. They will help you capture the natural spirit of the school and facilities. Moreover, a photographer who is used to working with kids, has the right skills to make them feel comfortable and at ease.

It’s a great way to show prospective families how much students and teachers love their time together. Instead of telling them in three long paragraphs about the quality of life you provide for your students, it would be more effective if they could see it in a one-minute video!


  1. It easily demonstrate your values

Photographs and videos not only “showcase” the activities students and teachers are doing, but they will also demonstrate how happy students “feel” while doing those activities.

It will help you capture their excitement, as well as the bond they have with their teachers or classmates. This simple image will demonstrate the ambience of your school!

Pro-tip: Most photographers avoid shooting on special occasions. Doing a shoot on teacher’s day, for example, would not be the best choice. Since it will not help them capture students their true selves.


  1. Photographs will help you tell the story of your school

When you think about your own school, What is the first thing you remember? The classroom, the building right? Because places hold history.

Every school and campus is different and has a unique story to tell. Whether your school has that one wall painted in blue or its culture is centered around history or modern art. What makes it stand out?

Photography and videography will evoke the personality of the school. This a low key method of demonstrating how the faculty and students are part of this unique environment. It will always remain part of their personal history. 

Pro-Tip (part 2): Photographs are not only a vital aspect of your website, but they also play a role in your branding. Documents, newsletters, invitations, and school events should all have the same brand consistency.


We’ve learned the value of professional photography. Now, the next step is to find the right photographer for the job.

And, let’s be honest, this could be quite a bit of a task. Finding a talented photographer that can accurately capture the soul of your institution, meet your deadlines, and stay inside your budget is no easy task! 

You can go through 1000 portfolios and spend your valuable time figuring out the right photographer. Or you can ask our experts at School Jotter!

Being an educational organization and having designed and delivered over 6,500 school websites to our customers, we are committed to find the best fit for your school.

Reach out to us today for your school’s brighter future tomorrow!

10 Design Mistakes to Avoid on Your School’s Website

Published: October 1, 2021

Did you know it takes about 0.05 seconds for a user to determine whether they choose to stay on, or leave your website? You heard it right! 

Though it’s a common saying, “do not judge a book by its cover”, when it comes to your website design, it is almost always subjected to an extreme level of snap judgment that may influence any perceptions of credibility.

If you are new to website design or are unsure about what will make an impact and help to increase parental engagement for your school’s website, here are some basic design mistakes that you should avoid.


1. Using stock photos

Photography is one of the most critical elements of good school website design. Using stock photos or bad quality images can dramatically impact the value associated with your school website. If you intend to use stock photos at all, then make sure they are of high quality and realistically express the emotions you have in mind.


2. Too many menu items

Researchers have concluded that when too many menus or options are given to users, the human mind tends to get confused and is not able to take the required action. Not something you want to happen with your school website.

For example, if your website has too many menus on multiple parts of your web page or multiple dropdowns under each heading, it is less likely that your user, in this case, the students or parents, will find the information they need. In such cases, the user will quickly skim through the menus or sections and will immediately leave the page if they cannot locate the appropriate information.

Related to menu items, there is another design mistake that often needs the designer’s attention — invisible navigation menus. If the visual cues are missing from the breadcrumbs, your user may struggle to find where exactly they are on the website or where they want to go next.  


3. Long pages

A school website serves many audiences — alumni, teachers, current parents, students, and prospective parents. The competing needs of the different types of audience compel many schools to overload their website with too much information that often extends to several pages and needs to be scrolled to access the complete information. This often leads to the parents missing out on critical information and causing a lot of confusion.

When building pages on your website, you need to use the most relevant and important information that must be conveyed and offer an option to either download a PDF for more information or contact the school to have queries resolved.


4. Keeping old / no longer relevant content

Continuing from the above point, keeping content that could be archived is one critical mistake website admins often make.  Content should be focused primarily on the current requirements of the target audience. Other information, for example, news and updates dating back several years, doesn’t hold relevance for current parents and should be removed and updated from time to time. 


5. Not being mobile responsive

According to Statista, until January 2021, the total number of active mobile internet users in the UK was approximately 65.32 million.

The most common mistake made by many designers is that they design a school website keeping in mind only the desktop version and bringing in the mobile version as an afterthought. Clearly, if you do not design a website keeping the mobile view in mind, you’re definitely ignoring a major portion of the audience and site traffic.

Instead, you should evenly weigh your desktop and mobile view considerations from the start of the project, this will definitely improve the user experience on your school website. Even the new mobile-friendly algorithm from Google provides an additional boost in your website rankings if it is mobile-friendly.


6. An old design

School website design has moved on a lot in the last few years. Ordinary home pages are oh-so-boring and outdated. Some designers also make the mistake of working on the design and the website copy separately. Designing the website first or creating the copy? This is kind of that world’s chicken and egg kind of question — who came first?

When looking for a design, make sure you choose something that stays relevant to the times and choose a theme template that has a modern look and feel. Making the site effective is more important than just focusing on the beauty aspect of the site. Text-heavy pages are a big no-no and over usage of graphics isn’t recommended either.

Another advantage of modern themes is that they also come with user-friendly navigation which helps both the parents and students to easily access information without worrying about what to click next.


7. Image resolutions too high or too low

Photos or images are an integral part of the website design process but if the image resolution is too high or too low, that can have an opposite impact on the user experience. 

When uploading images to your site, you should always look at the pixel dimensions. For a horizontal image, you should use at least 1024 pixels and the standard resolution for web images, also known as screen resolution, should be 72PPI. 


8. Too many images in slideshows

You might have seen many websites that have attractive images as slide shows or carousels, they might look really appealing, but they can detract from the crucial information you want your website users to find.

The Usability Guru, Jakob Nielsen, performed a test on a couple of users where he asked them to spot a particular deal on washing machines which was mentioned in one of the most prominent slides on a site – due to the number of slideshow images, most of the users missed that information. Thereafter, he concluded that image carousels get ignored. Notre Dame also performed a similar test and the result got them 1% action only on the first slide.

Even in the case of school websites, parents or students really do not have sufficient time to scroll through hundreds of images to find one specific piece of information. 


9. Avoid bright or hard to read colors for text

As rightly said by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”

Some of the most common accessibility mistakes that you can make when choosing a website design include background and font colour combinations, not providing a visual focus on certain elements on the website, missing alt text on images, or including link text that does not provide sufficient detail.

When you choose your next website design, pick a company that has incorporated web accessibility in its platform.


10. Overuse of scrolling text and animations

When the question of adding animations to website design comes, contemporary users like you might instantly like the idea of seeing some movement on the website and hence adding animations. Now if the animations are user-triggered then it does a good job in bringing in the desired impact. But using too many animations or movements could negatively impact the functionality of the website by slowing it down, and especially so when you open it on your mobile devices.

Again, additional and unintentional horizontal scrollbars that often pop up in otherwise responsive websites can also ruin the look and feel of the website and can slow it down tremendously.


Final thoughts

While designing a school website, it is critical to always keep your target audience and brand image in mind in every step of the design process. If you can reconcile the two, you will have a beautiful product that will be loved by all.

Designing a school website or any other educational software undoubtedly requires thorough expertise and relevant experience and with School Jotter guiding you every step of the way, you can get your website or app up in no time. Contact us right away to discuss how we can help you bring your vision to life.