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September 15

Does Your School Website Design Deserve an F?


9 Secrets of an A+ School Website Design

Now that school is in full swing, students are eager to get the grades.

I enjoy reading Richard Benson’s series of humor books. His books present the “very best totally wrong answers” collected from actual school tests. One of my favorites is Benson’s book F for Effort!

While recognizing effort is good, your school website design has to be more than just effort. Your school website is often the first and only impression given to prospective students and families.  It has to be an A+ design.

Before you begin your school website design or redesign project, consider the following secrets:


Every school website should focus on enrollment. Increases in enrollment is the number one way schools can improve their financial health. We have seen schools focused on enrollment see a 22% increase in traditional admissions. Your school website design must not be all things to all departments. Focus your efforts.


Every website needs to consider the navigation first and foremost. No matter how great the design might be, a website that does not function will not produce results. We work through a formula for schools website navigation that keeps the site organized.


As mentioned above, you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. Does the presentation of your school website design accurately reflect the brand and quality of your offerings?

A poor use of design and creativity misrepresents too many quality schools. Proper use of visual design elements (color, typography, hierarchy, white space,  organization, etc.) represent the quality of your school.

Responsive Design

Also assure your website utilizes responsive design so that presentation on mobile devices succeeds. Over 60% of all website access is now through mobile.

Authenticity and Emotion

Engaging Teens recently proclaimed that authenticity was a “must have” for effective teen marketing. Teens have a sixth sense and can spot inauthentic content and sentiment. Your school website must contain real and emotive content. This should include content written for digital, photography, video, and other rich media. Avoid the staged photos, be real with how you show your community.

Content Written for Digital

Writing content for the web is not the same as print. Take the time to learn and understand how to write content that can is easy to read and consume on a website. Short sentences, shorter paragraphs, and the use of subheads and bulleted lists are critical.

Remember users start every search with a question. The question may be “can we afford this school” or “does this school have the major I seek.” Understand this and design a content strategy to provide answers to the common questions.

Marketing Automation

Today we are living in a technology revolution within marketing. Your website should embrace automation tools to enhance your lead generation and management.

Tools such as Sharpspring provide the ability to track visitor engagement on your website. This data provides your team with business intelligence and will identify the warmest leads.

These tools also provide ways to nurture prospects through gated content on your website. Convert those prospects that may become stealth applicants earlier in the process.

Call To Action

What is the next step? Every page on your website should have a call to action. This encourages the site visitor to engage at the next level with you. For enrollment, it may be filling out a request more information form. Better yet, it would be filling out a form to download an ebook containing answers to their questions.

Keep your prospects moving through the funnel by using a call to action on every page.

Carte Blanch

I believe that enrollment and marketing should have discretion on the education website. Content management and digital marketing tools make it simple to keep a school website updated. There is no reason for a the site to be the sole property of IT. Collaboration is key. Consult with IT, but have full control over your website.


Interested in understanding more about your school website design grade? Here are some options:

Hubspot’s Website Grader
Free online tool that grades your site against key metrics like performanc, mobile readiness, SEO, and security. You must provide an email address to use.

Quick and simple tool that will review critical elements of your website. Nibbler assesses how good your site is and what you can do to improve it. It does not need an email address to use.

Quick Sprout Website Analyzer
Like the others, but compare your scores with your competition. Report includes breakdown for SEO, traffic, speed, and social media.

Caylor Solutions
We offer a website assessment as part of our initial free consultation. We also offer deeper reports and findings with a website audit. If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to contact us.

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Featured image by vchalup via Adobe Stock

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Fill out the following form to get instant access to our ebook, Guide to Planning an Education Website Redesign

Caylor Solutions eBook

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Fill out the following form to get instant access to our ebook, Writing for the Web: 7 Secrets to Content Marketing Success for Education Marketers

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Fill out the following form to get instant access to our ebook, 25 Ideas for Great Admissions Content.

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