Imagine this situation: A local parent heard about your school through word-of-mouth, as a friend was raving about how her daughter was excelling in the volleyball program and really loves the coaches. Intrigued, she goes home and Googles your school's athletics programs to learn more about what you have to offer. However, she never fills out an inquiry form because your athletics page failed to meet the expectations she had after the conversation with her friend.
This situation is all-too-common for schools. Branded searches (a search query that includes your school name + keyword) drive a ton of website traffic to school landing and interior pages. Despite this, schools often compromise their landing and interior page design to spend all their time, energy, and budget on their homepage.
However, your school's landing pages are equally as important as homepage design.
They're the pages that searchers, do in fact, land on. From a design perspective, landing pages are the main pages, other than your homepage, that you'd expect website visitors to land on from search, social, or your main navigation. For most schools, typical landing pages are Athletics, Admissions, Giving, Arts, Academics, School Life, etc.
To ensure that your school is always putting its best face forward, we've outlined the three most important qualities that your school's landing pages should have.
1. Your school's landing pages should have a consistent, predictable design.
Maintaining consistency among the look and feel of these is integral to your site architecture because it simplifies the user experience. You wouldn't want the look, feel, and navigation of your Student Life page to be completely different than your Admissions page.
Rather than approaching each page as a blank slate, it's important to ask: how can we leverage our content best as a part of this design?
For example, St. Sebastian's School has the ideal landing page structure, which includes:
- Quick navigation to interior pages of that section
- A hero image slideshow
- A brief description
- An infographic or testimonial — AKA that little something "extra" that engages the website visitor
- A simple, consistent footer
2. There should always be a clearly defined "next step."
When someone lands on any page on your school's website, they expect to find calls-to-action that make their next step as easy as their first. Use clearly defined calls-to-action that direct to other lower-level interior pages to guide users down a path of conversion.
A few important CTA qualities to consider:
Calls-to-action are most effective when placed in the top-left hand corner of the page or at the bottom: Generally speaking, people read websites in an "F" shape from the upper left the lower right of a page. Based on this research, best practices suggest that CTA buttons on the top left and bottom right get the most clicks.
Use contrasting colors to visually separate different calls-to-action. For example, if you'd like to offer three different calls-to-action, ensure they are three different colors, and also stand out from the other colors on your page.
Each page should have 2-3 calls-to-action that appeal to different website visitors. For example, while someone may be visiting your Admissions page, they might not be ready to apply. So offer other options, such as Download a Viewbook or Schedule a Visit.
3. Each landing page should tell a story.
A landing page (or even an interior page for that matter) isn't just a web page packed with the wordy content you didn't want to put on your homepage. It's another touch, another opportunity, another chance to engage and inspire your user.
Incorporate videos, photos, infographics, student testimonials, and other marketing collateral into a story.
General Rule of Thumb
As you design your school's landing pages, ask yourself the following questions:
- If this was the first page a prospective family visited, what would they expect to find?
- Where would they, logically, want to go next?
- What is the story we want to tell in this section?
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.