As an Adelaide designer of private school and SA Education Department school websites, we understand the issues you face.
Many South Australian schools find their web design has become “me too”. Enquiries are not meeting expectations. Their school website design no longer represents the campus of today. Google Ads for schools are expensive and organic SEO for educational institutions is highly competitive.
Boylen is a school website specialist covering web design, website development and ongoing digital marketing. We have 30 years of school marketing experience. We understand how to develop websites for schools and digital strategy that act as a “magnet” for prospective parents and students, both local and overseas.
It's not just about a good looking website. It's about being found and understood by prospective parents and students. Let us help your School voice be heard.
Colleges and large schools need a more detailed digital strategy.
We start by analysing your goals and analysing the data from your existing website to learn what is working and what is letting you down.
This leads to development of user personas and optimum pathways. What is the ideal user experience for each of your target groups? What is the best pathway to take them to your preferred conversion point (such as Book A School Tour, Enquiry or Enrolment)?
On mobile, tablets and desktop, our goal is to retain visitors to your site (reduce bounce rate) and increase user conversions.
We will also work with your IT staff to ensure seamless integration of other school software.
School websites must be designed to meet the needs of diverse user groups, including parents, teachers and students.
However, the elements of best-practice school website design are largely the same. These include stunning imagery, are fast to load, have clear pathways that lead to prominent calls to action, and high quality responsive web design that displays perfectly across all devices, especially on phones.
Of course, each school or college website project is different. An experienced web designer should have the ability to capture your unique qualities - the heart and soul of your school - and to convey your ethos without words.
Your project manager is on hand to develop and implement your digital strategy. They can advise what features best suit your school’s needs, whether they are available “off the shelf” or whether custom programming is required.
Features and Functional Components of good school websites:
User experience and great school/college web design
Parents and caregivers want the best for their children. They are active in researching schools during pregnancy, become less active in the early years and then become avid school website users in the years leading up to the start of school.
Websites are often the first experience a prospective parent has with a school or college. As such, school and college websites have never been more important.
First impressions are obviously critical – across all devices – and so too are the user pathways you design, which should lead to your most important calls to action. These may include “Book A School Tour”, “Request A Prospectus” or simply “Call Us”.
Imagery is at the heart of this initial impression. The best school website designs include stunning photography and video. As you prepare to design or redesign a school website, we recommend you place imagery and content high on your list.
(The added advantage of prioritising content is that it requires a major commitment. Starting early, gathering resources or engaging a content specialist will make your life a lot easier during the website development project.)
Good school websites offer user friendly navigation
More and more prospective parents are researching schools out of school hours, using a smartphone.
That’s why we take a mobile-first design approach.
And yes, it is possible to project the vibrancy of a school, even within the constraints and simplified navigation of a mobile experience.
Can I edit my school website?
The answer is yes – and no matter which school marketing agency you choose, the answer should always be yes. Every school website that we design and develop – whether it’s small site for a country South Australia school or a large Adelaide college website – is easy to maintain.
You can choose what elements are editable by your team and which – usually those related to school branding – should be locked down.
School marketing staff need to be able add pages, and also build forms that include data capture and auto-reply email logic. This needs to happen quickly, so that your website can adapt at a moment’s notice (as Covid has taught us).
A few other aspects that contribute to good school web design are:
Finally, great school websites always prioritise their hosting. From a marketing perspective, this is because they understand the importance of site speed. From a governance view, the protection of sensitive personal information is paramount.
If you would like to discuss a specific school/college website design or redesign project with an experienced Adelaide team, please click on the links and we will respond quickly.
Yes, we do.
It is important to ensure the resources and media are structured in a way that is conducive to a good user experience. Users need to easily access key information in a simple way.
And while we can develop a resource and media centre to manage different sections of resources and media in your site, it is still possible to house all the files in one repository.
Example Of Resource Module Functionality:
This type of module will integrate with block componentry which can be added to website pages, allowing functionality to:
This will combine to provide users with the ability to view all resources on the site, filter and search these, and click on individual resources/media to view the full information.
We love working with schools and colleges. If we can help you, please make contact here: Website Design For Schools
School websites can fall into the trap of being homogenous; they all look the same. Despite having larger marketing budgets, private college websites face the same problem.
Yet your school is unique. A history, ethos and culture that is distinctly yours. The way your teachers weave care and pedagogy into their student interaction. How can you possibly express this online in a fresh and captivating way?
The answer is: “talented designers”.
You can invest in the best images and video money can buy. You can write snappy headlines and evocative text, and choose typography that sings.
But without really talented designers, the end result will invariably be lacklustre … and scrambled.
Our team of school website designers think differently to our other staff. Professionally trained and with years of experience, they have the ability to take your various inputs and create something unique (there’s that word again).
A lot of it is natural talent. They were born with enhanced levels of creativity and thanks to the guiding hands of teachers and lecturers, they now make a career of their inspirational design ability.
Yes, all designers need to tick off the basics if they are to achieve the WOW factor and get people to click where you want them to (conversion points).
Yet what countless studies have shown is that people make decisions for both rational and emotional reasons. They often make an emotional decision and then justify it with a rational argument.
According to Lerner et al, writing in the Annual Review of Psychology: “Integral emotions can be remarkably influential even in the presence of cognitive information that would suggest alternative courses of action.”
So your design must speak to the heart, mind and soul of parents and caregivers. Through imagery, colour and content it must elicit the emotions necessary to choose your school over another.
Great design sets you apart.
It’s normal for many prospective parents to drive past your grounds and this is where they form their first impression (not from your website). However, your school or college website is where people undertake their initial research, so it is critical in forming early impressions.
School tours and one-on-one conversations then become critical. Even still, when the tour is finished and the campus has closed for the night, it is the website that new parents return to again and again.
They seek information. And they also seek sensory validation.
That’s why our school website designers, based in Adelaide and in touch with local values, are so important in the process of highlighting why your school is such an attractive proposition.
Your task is to get them started. If you, as a member of your school community, can help our website design studio understand what makes you unique, then you are well on your way to a school web design that truly stands out from the crowd.
A closing note on Boylen: we’re in Adelaide - designers of school websites, college websites and experts in SEO for schools. If we can help, please reach out to us. We’re friendly and always enjoy hearing about a new challenge.
Our team was asked to present a paper on digital marketing for schools and colleges in Adelaide and regional South Australia.
From that we have developed a small, easy-to-understand guide.
Please email us here if you would like a copy: Digital Marketing and SEO For Schools: Adelaide and Regional SA.
The number one technique to increase school enrolments
Successful schools with long waiting lists have one thing in common.
In our work with private colleges, Education Department schools and tertiary educators, we have learned that a singular focus is at the heart of admissions success. A warning: while it may be relatively easy to plan, it does require disciplined implementation to achieve the benefits.
What we are referring to is the School Enrolment Funnel, which is a variation of the classic Sales Funnel.
There are four stages in a School Enrolment (sales) Funnel.
Understanding each stage of the funnel is critical. Having the organisational rigour to implement the correct actions, at the correct time, every single time, is what sets the best schools and colleges apart from the rest.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how the sales funnel technique can increase school enrolments without putting an excess strain on your marketing resources.
One caveat: your school needs to be a quality educator. If your campus has problems with poor academic records, bullying, substandard facilities etc, then no amount of marketing is going to make a difference. Substance always win out over style.
THE SCHOOL ENROLMENT FUNNEL EXPLAINED
The awareness stage of the sales funnel sits at the top of the funnel, its widest point.
It is the stage where “potential customers” (parents, caregivers and students) become aware of your existence and what you stand for.
The focus is on quantity. (Yes, quantity. Quality is secondary, except for schools that are struggling with an overly long waiting list and that requires quite different strategies to hold parents on the waiting list.)
School marketers need to fill the top of the funnel because there is a natural attrition rate as parents drop out or move down towards the decision point, which is the thinnest part of the funnel.
At this point, parents are making their first decisions about whether or not they want to “buy”.
How do you create this general awareness?
There are many marketing options, some of which are:
It’s also important to stay in tune with your market so you can alter your communications to reflect changing audience priorities, such as health during Covid. You should be keeping an eye on what other schools are doing and benchmarking yourself against them.
Once you have reached an appropriate level of awareness among your target audience, you can begin to focus on moving them down the funnel towards your conversion points.
The interest stage of the sales funnel is the point where people are interested enough to take some form of action.
It’s a mix of awareness and consideration, where people are curious about your school but not ready to enrol. If someone takes an action on your website — like signing up for a newsletter — you can assume they are motivated enough to learn more.
In general, if you can get someone to look at your website or sign up for a mailing list, then you’ve reached the interest stage and are on track to convert them. They need to be able to find the information they need to make a decision.
There is no right answer as to when someone should move onto the next stage of the sales funnel. The interest phase may last a few days or a few years, depending on where parents are in their parenting journey.
The interest stage is usually the most active part of the sales funnel, since people are taking actions that show their interest. They are motivated and they have intent.
It’s important to keep nurturing parents through this period by anticipating their needs and adding value via your communications. (Don’t bombard them with needless emails that don’t add value.)
Focus on the most cost-effective channels that are likely to convert into customers. Two standouts are:
Your website allows people to access information:
Make sure your school website is optimised for conversions. We could write a book on this. Setting up pages to be high converting is not an art, it’s a science. Highlight this paragraph as an area where you need to be implementing world’s best practice.
We’ve been fortunate to work with companies that sell globally and others that compete in areas such as the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) category. We have a substantial amount of intellectual property that we don’t publish but we do offer it to clients.
It’s important to track people through the interest stage. Your school’s budget will be a determining factor in what solution you choose.
Your website developer should be able to integrate your website with many CRMs, such as Salesforce. This allows you to automatically capture leads and automate follow-up activities like email nurturing.)
You can also use social media and advertising to direct traffic to your site. Then employ messaging and email marketing to communicate and to nurture them.
Once they are on the cusp of enrolling, you need to “close the sale”.
At the decision stage of the sales funnel, families know they have enough information to make a decision.
It is when people are most likely to buy. Some people go straight from awareness to enrolment but most don’t.
As the funnel narrows, your school has a shortlist of parents’ names that have passed through the filtering stages. They have become emotionally involved. It will be harder for them to say “no” than “yes” but it is likely there will be several other schools still in contention.
Obviously, your goal during this stage is to secure as many enrolments as possible.
Three factors that often come into contention, especially for private schools, are:
The action stage of the sales funnel is the point where the buyer has taken action to enrol.
This could be as simple as downloading enrolment forms, or as complex as taking out a loan.
What this means is that the buyer has made a decision to purchase but have not finalised their investment.
People can still fall out of the funnel during this period, so personal attention is required. Depending on the size of your campus, you may need to automate this process (eg. after a person has provided their contact details and downloaded an enrolment form, a series of follow up emails could automatically be sent if the forms have not been lodged).
The most important thing to keep in mind is that action is more than just getting people to “buy”. It's about building relationships with parents and getting them emotionally invested in your school or college.
The beauty of today’s technology is that you get live data at so many touchpoints. It makes continuous improvement easier than ever before. Here are some key ideas to consider:
At its core, a School Enrolment Funnel is a system that guides families through your sales process.
The widest part of the funnel is for the most general prospects, and the narrowest part of the funnel is for the most qualified prospects.
Can we help?
As you can see, we think a lot about the websites we design and develop for our school and college clients. If we can help, please reach out to us.
We don't employ sales staff in our design studio, so you will speak with someone who will probably work on your project.
Many young parents and their children are gamers.
They invest in gaming chairs and high-resolution monitors, and become totally immersed in the likes of Minecraft, Call Of Duty and Sea of Thieves.
Even banks are embracing the gamification of their online experiences and virtual school tours will undoubtedly follow this path.
In the education sector, enhanced video and VR technology is increasing “lead engagement” via virtual tours.
Boylen is seeing new "tour tech" all the time. It’s stunning.
On one hand, the new offerings might seem expensive. On the other hand, tours have such a strong correlation with enrolments, that they not only offer true value, but you can also calculate your return on investment via smart analytics.
Does your virtual tour let visitors see school facilities and ‘meet’ teachers and students, at a time that suits them?
Can users explore the school grounds, look in on classes and experience what a school day would look like?
Can we help your school make the right decision and achieve the best possible quality?