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Make Your School's Story a Bestseller
Mia Major

2014 was the year of responsive. With a focus on the mobile user, we worked with schools to launch websites that provided an engaging website experience from desktops, smartphones, and tablets alike.

But it wasn't just about a website working on different devices — that's easy. For our schools, it has always been about creating a flow between content and design, and having that partnership tell a story.

So as we kick off 2015, we're predicting a focus on stories. And just as each year brings hundreds of newly published titles to the bookshelves (or your Kindle), 2015 will ring in some pretty steep competition among schools' stories online.

In order to ensure that your school's story is a bestseller, you'll need to cover all your bases. Here's how you can ensure you appeal to all your site users (with some advice dating back to ancient Greece).

Appeal to logos: the user experience.

Today's user only reads about 20% of the content you write on your website. We know what you're thinking — wait, what?

It's a statistic that's surely a little disheartening, especially if you spent the last week perfectly crafting six paragraphs about your school's mission. But when it comes to sharing your school's story online, providing a highly visual experience will encourage your user to engage with your site.

Incorporate photos as frequently as possible, use infographics to display statistics, and replace text with videos when possible. We know, that sounds like a lot! So how exactly do you fit your entire school's story into your website? Scrolling — and lots of it.

While this may have been web design taboo five years ago, the prevalence of mobile devices has leaned web design in that direction as well. Vertical and parallax scrolling have redefined the user experience as something that can be fun and engaging, rather than cluttered and confusing.

Check out Baylor School and Charlotte Country Day's websites for some inspiration for a user experience that informs and engages.

Appeal to ethos: the skeptic.

Don't judge a book by its cover, and don't judge a school by its website. As competition gets steeper, you can't just say your school has amazing academics using a cool graphic, you have to prove it.

Some website visitors think extremely logically about their decision for independent school, with one consideration obviously being the price, and others being location, classes available, college matriculation, etc.

In order to appeal to the skeptic, you must make it just as easy to find important information like tuition, available classes, application due dates, college acceptances, and more. Use an organized navigation or clearly identified call to action buttons to guide your skeptics to the information they're looking for. Once they've found it, they may go back and explore your site.

Key takeaway here: sometimes, rather than getting caught up in design, it's better to let facts be facts.

Appeal to pathos: the user's emotion.

Appealing to your website visitor's emotion is the most effective way to engage with them. Sharing facts doesn't hold the same weight as stirring up some emotion. So, if you're looking to turn your website visitor into an applicant, providing content that evokes emotion is your key to success. (This is also extremely crucial for fundraising!)

Student and alumni testimonials are our favorite way to appeal to pathos. Interview students about their experience and share it on your homepage. Or better yet, plan out an admissions video that encompasses student life in and out of the classroom.

Take a look at Berkshire School's admissions video for some inspiration.


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