It is important for any business or organization these days to have a strong and proper presence on the Internet, and it is no different for schools and academic institutions. Even more so, they have to have the right online representation through a well-designed and reliable website.
This is because just as consumers surf the Web for information before purchasing a product, or jobseekers look up a prospective employer online, parents rely heavily on school websites when choosing a suitable school to enroll their child in.
The good news is that extensive technical know-how is no longer needed for school principals, administrators, or faculty to maintain an impressive website. There are innovative CMS providers that can design and develop websites quickly and easily for academic institutions.
Finding a provider that offers school website design templates is a good start for schools who wish to establish their online presence. Seeing these templates will give the school an idea of how their future website may look. These pre-developed templates take into consideration the basic functionalities relevant for a school’s website. In terms of design, most templates have a classic and mainstream layout and eye-catching colors and images.
While a template is a convenient option especially for schools who will be putting up their website for the first time, it is a good idea to explore customized school website designs, too. Tweaking a design template can make the website better reflect a school’s distinct character or culture. A one-of-a-kind website design can help foster community and camaraderie between the school and its students, even online.
An impressive design portfolio or gallery alone shouldn’t be only thing you take into consideration when choosing a website template or provider. Schools should also check out the CMS, or content management system, offered by website providers. The CMS refers to the platform used to update, manage, and organize the website. This platform must be easy to navigate and use, and it should offer a host of functions for customization and automation. A cluttered, confusing, or complicated CMS can make maintaining the website difficult for teachers and school staff. Plus, it may discourage them from updating their pages or communicating with parents using the official school website.
Jumpstarting Creativity with Website Design Templates
Using a website design template is a great way to get started on a website project if school owners cannot seem to get it off the ground. The variety of designs available can jumpstart the creative process and give initial ideas that can be developed in greater detail later on. Some people also tend to think in a visual manner, and design templates help immensely by providing initial concepts that can stimulate brainstorming or discussion.
A good website design provider should be able to work closely with a client on developing ideas further. Templates are usually just a takeoff point, and the provider may be able to customize the website later on as it takes on a more solid identity. Reputable providers provide around 2 to 3 passes on customizing a unique design to ensure that the website captures the idea the client wants to convey.
How to Choose a School Website Design
While putting up a school website that uses readily available design templates and CMS may seem easy enough, there are a number of things to consider to ensure that the website is effective and efficient. Schools could benefit to keep the following aspects of a website in mind when choosing the right website design template to start off with:
The initial appeal of any website is its overall look and feel. The predominant colors, images, and fonts are what create the first impression for any visitor. Further, it is also what keeps such visitors engaged to browse and linger further on the site. A website that is pleasing to the eyes will be a joy to explore.
Thus, it is important to choose a design that exudes just the right feel, which suits the school’s character as well. The visual elements should match the school’s colors, for instance, or official typeface. The school’s culture and heritage should also be taken into consideration—a more conservative institution would have a different look from a more contemporary one, for example.
Apart from looks, ease of navigation also ensures that a website will be explored and utilized well. The way that the sections are displayed and the buttons are arranged is important—they should be clear and simple, but noticeable at the same time. A good website would lend itself to intuitive navigation, and users would not have a difficult time looking for the information that they want.
One of the most frustrating experiences for website visitors is not being able to locate what they are seeking, and this becomes a reason for them to leave the site and seek other sources of information. For a school, this is a situation that needs to be avoided because the goal is to entice prospective students to get to know more about the organization.
As mentioned, the purpose of a school website is to showcase itself as an attractive academic community, and as such it should function well to serve this purpose. The design should be able to showcase content well, and the CMS should be able to allow updates easily. Most importantly, the technical side of the template and CMS should be efficient and reliable.
Dead links or errors in loading pages are a big no-no. The way that the template is designed should also be light enough on bandwidth to make itself load completely even on slow Internet connections. This helps ensure that each and every visitor gets to experience the website they are seeking.
In today’s age of smartphones, mobile responsiveness is a must for any website. This means that websites viewed on traditional devices such as desktop computers or laptops should automatically adjust to the smaller and vertical orientation of smartphones or other types of gadget. Websites that have been programmed or developed in previous years may not have this feature yet, and as such may need to be reconfigured or adjusted. Most website design templates today would already offer this functionality, saving a lot of time and money on the part of schools.
Investing in Website Solutions
Creating and maintaining a school website can be considered an investment—there are initial costs involved, but they are recovered easily in the long run for the awareness and good reputation that they bring to the organization. In turn, the population of student enrollees is kept healthy, and profitability for the school is ensured.
In the industry of website and online solutions providers, there are companies who have focused on servicing the particular field of academics, and as such have built strong expertise in this area. They are more familiar with the needs of schools in terms of website design and functionality. These firms are the most ideal to work with in ensuring that a school’s investment in putting up a website pays off in the long run.