When designing a school website, what’s your top priority? Is it to provide a support page for your students to make use of the resources they need, to provide information for parents who are interested in potentially enrolling their children, or to provide an up-to-date source of news and schedules on all your school events?
Whatever the answer is, the website is much more likely to meet those goals by focusing on user experience. By ensuring that the site is designed to help visitors get where they want to go, you can make your school website a much more effective resource.
What is user experience?
User experience is essentially about getting into the shoes of the people using your website and experiencing how easy and convenient it is to explore. This includes looking at how pages are formatted visually, as well as seeing how easy it is to navigate from one page to the other and to find the content relevant to you. By focusing on user experience during school website design, you can make sure that your visitors aren’t frustrated or overwhelmed by the information and resources available to them.
Making the path clear and easy
Good navigation is a cornerstone of creating a great user experience for your school website. Simply put, the path to finding the information or services that your user wants should be as clear and simple as possible. The best place to address this is from the top bar of your website. It’s wise to avoid offering too many options at first, such as dropdown menus, and to offer clearly described easy-to-understand options. If you have multiple pages that belong in the same category, then create a single page for that category.
From the category page, offer an overview of the topic, as well as a sidebar of links to further, more detailed information, or simply a list of links that help them find where they want to go.
Making headings and content readable
Headings do more than create a title for the page, they should serve as an easy-to-read description of the page, meaning that your visitors can understand what they’re looking at in a glance. Try to keep headings relatively uniform in length, not too short to offer no helpful context for the page, but also not so long as to lose their attention while they’re reading.
Formatting the content on the page well is important, as well. Too many long paragraphs of text can feel like a slog to read through. Make sure to break the paragraph into sections using descriptive sub-headings. Where appropriate, converting a paragraph of information into a numbered list or bullet points can make it much easier to read as well. Your pages need a nice balance of content with negative space to make sure your visitors don’t feel like they’re being assaulted by a never-ending barrage of information.
Creating visual sense
The visual style that you choose for your website will play a huge role in how easy to navigate and to read it is. While you might want to get creative with visual assets, colours, and patterns, you need to make sure that you’re not making it hard for visitors to read. For instance, choosing a light font over an even lighter background is likely to make visitors strain their eyes.
With that in mind, try and choose simple, modern, neat fonts and typography. Your website should make it as easy to read the information provided as possible.
Mixing content formats
You don’t necessarily have to use written content for all your pages or all the points that you want to make. Great, natural photos of the school and activities can quickly communicate the point of a page and help with making navigation even simpler.
You should also consider which content might be better presented in a different format. If you want to present a lot of different stats, figures, and details in quick succession, then an infographic can help make it more visually appealing and easier to follow. For events and announcements or tours of the different locations in the school building, a video might be easier to digest. A good mix of different media formats can break up the monotony of endless text.
User experience is crucial to good school website design
The digital world is becoming more and more useful to schools, helping to attract new students and to keep everyone up-to-date on important news and events. Your school website design plays a huge role in how well you communicate online, so ensure you give it the attention that it deserves.