Since May, when we re-capped nine recent award-winning school websites, our design team has taken home an additional 10 website design awards in the 2017 Communicator Awards, the Summit Creative Awards, and the dotCOMM Awards. Judged and administered by leading associations — the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts and the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP) — when a school website receives an award in one of these competitions, it is of the highest honor and recognition.
Here is a full list of the award-winning school websites from the three competitions:
All of the following school websites received a "2017 Communicator of Distinction" award, the top honor of the annual award competition.
SUMMIT CREATIVE AWARDS
- American School of Bombay | Platinum
- Walnut Hill School for the Arts | Gold
- Sidwell Friends School | Honorable Mention
- Global Indian International School | Honorable Mention
- Have a deep understanding of their brand, audience and message
- Take risks
- Aren't copy cats
- Put in a lot of effort on their end
But aside from those key qualities, which are the foundation of any good school website, what makes these ten so special?
Segmented content that creates a personalized journey for the website visitor provides the ultimate website experience. Rather than providing website visitors a standard navigation experience, these schools prompt website visitors to identify with a particular program or interest.
North Bennet Street School does this particularly well, prompting visitors to select the exact program they're interested in, and then bringing them to a landing page with all the content about that particular program.
Kinkaid School offers a similar experience, serving up program content in a photo collage, and enticing the visitor to click to learn more. You can access program information from numerous different entry points — the scrolling homepage photos. This shows that Kinkaid School knows their audience well, and that different photos entice different website visitors — even if it ultimately directs them to the same landing page.
By presenting website content in this way, schools have the ability to control the journey website visitors take, increasing the chance of a conversion — which is always the end goal.
Each of these school websites offer an engaging scroll experience. Kinkaid School, American School of Bombay and Global Indian International School specifically have homepage designs that are brought to life by animations. It should be noted that these animations are not used in excess, but rather, in the perfect amount to create an engaging experience, not an overwhelming one.
"For Global Indian International School, the animations that we added made the experience very unique," said Kelly Wilson, the Senior Designer who worked on the project. "As you scroll down, the header changes, content appears, and the navigation on the right shifts and changes as you scroll."
- Experience Kinkaid School's website
- Experience American School of Bombay's website
- Experience Global Indian International School's website
A Focus on Content Beyond the Homepage
Having an awesome homepage is easy, especially when you're working with a great designer. They can make your school's mission and values come to life with photos, videos, and animations. But when it comes to interior pages, schools are handed a design to add content to — putting the storytelling in their hands. Because of this workload, some schools opt for simple interior pages with the necessary content. But in the case of these schools, their interior pages were given equal attention as their homepage.
"Beyond the homepage, their sites have great interior pages that continue their story," said Senior Designer Julianne Hamilton. "Sidwell Friends' Quaker Education and the Woods Academy's Curious About the Woods? pages break down what's really unique about each school."
Sometimes a school program is worthy of its own smaller site within the school's full site — AKA, a microsite. Microsites allow a school to provide more information and detail about a particular campaign or program important to enrollment, retention, and donations. For Taft in particular, these areas of focus are Athletics and Arts.
By providing these two programs their own "mini websites," the marketing team at Taft is able to provide digital experiences and additional content that match the individual brand and audience of that program, resulting in an increase in website traffic, engagement, and inquires.
What makes an award-winning school website?
It's a question we get asked a lot — and the qualities listed above are just some of the traits that make a school's website stand out from the crowd. To learn more about award-winning school websites, read these blog posts:
- What 9 Award-Winning School Websites Have in Common
- A Look Inside Western Academy of Beijing's Award-Winning Website
- What Makes a Good School Website?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's Content Marketing Manager, Mia plans and executes a variety of inbound marketing and digital content strategies. As a former TV and news reporter, freelance cinematographer and certified inbound marketer, Mia specializes in helping schools find new ways to share their stories online through web design, social media, copywriting, photography and videography. She is the author of numerous blogs, and Finalsite's popular eBook, The Website Redesign Playbook.