- General Best Practices
We usually recommend that a school or district redesign its website every three to five years. While that may seem frequent, it’s important to consider how quickly technology changes. There are often new best practices and even requirements (such as WCAG 2.0 and now WCAG 2.1) that pop up year after year. So, at the end of a few years, even a once award-winning website can begin to feel a bit dated. And, a dated design can hurt your chances of meeting your enrollment and retention goals — and here’s some data that proves that:
88% of online visitors are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience
Judgements on your school or district’s credibility is 75% based on the website design
94% of first impressions are design-related
Despite design’s influence, many schools don’t redesign every three to five years because it can be an arduous process and/or expensive. Whether your redesign is five years old or fifteen, you’ll still need the following five things ready before you head into the redesign process:
A Staff That’s On Board
A Clearly Defined Goal (Or Goals)
A Plan for Navigation and Page Structure
A Content Plan
Brand Colors, Logos, and Fonts
1. A Staff That’s On Board
The first and most crucial step of any website design process is to make sure everyone is on board. If you are a part of a team that will be working on your school website redesign, you’ll want to make sure that all team members understand the purpose and goals for the redesign. Make sure that each person knows their role and commitment required for the project, and understands who will be the ultimate decision maker. This decision maker should not only see the final design, but more importantly, the first design. It’s a great idea to enlist their feedback from the very beginning of the project.
Related Further Reading:
2. A Clearly Defined Goal (Or Goals)
Get together with your team to figure out what you want to achieve with your new website and create a list of specific, measurable goals. You will likely have multiple goals. Some examples of measurable goals include:
Increase website traffic by 20%
Decrease bounce rate by 10%
Increase inquiries by 15%
Rank on page 1 in search for top keywords
You may also have some goals that can’t be measured by data, but are still important, such as:
Simplify the user experience
Improve the perception of your school’s brand
Increase the use of visual content
Keep in mind that your goals should be unique to your school or district. Once you have these mapped out, it’ll be easier to start thinking about things like page structure and content to support those goals.
Join two Finalsite designers in this FREE webinar to learn where design is headed in 2020, and see examples of sites on the forefront of design.
3. A Plan for Navigation and Page Structure
Before you begin the redesign process, you should have done some initial work on your navigation and planned page structure. While your designer and project manager can provide input and guidance on best practices, every school and district is unique, and the content shared on your website should reflect that.
Prior to the redesign, you should use Google Analytics to review the most popular and least popular pages. You can also survey you community on what’s important to them.
When going through your pages, you may find that some are no longer needed or a few can be combined to make more comprehensive pages. Your website visitors love clean and easy to understand navigation, so take the time to dive deeper into how they will explore your site.
Related Further Reading:
4. A Content Plan
Page structure leads us to this next tip: finding your content. Once your goals have been outlined, your team can start looking for content to support them.
By taking an inventory of your content before you start the design process you’ll be able to see what resources you currently have available. You may find that you need to write copy, take photos or create engaging video to help your site stand out. Making a plan for your content helps speed up the website redesign and launch process.
Related Further Reading:
5. Brand Colors, Logos, and Fonts
Many schools and districts have brand style guidelines. You should find all the colors, logos (designers need these in EPS or AI format) and your fonts. Some custom fonts require specific licensing to use them on your school website. Your Finalsite designer can help you figure out what to do if your brand fonts require licensing. If you are looking for a new font for your website, Google and Adobe offer a huge selection of fonts to help your brand stand out.
A website redesign can be very exciting, but a little time spent in organization up front will help to make your project run more smoothly—saving you time and frustration along the way! Make sure everyone on your team knows what the plan is and what is required. Work on your goals for the website and find content that supports those goals. Don’t forget all those brand assets! Got everything together? Let’s get started on your website redesign!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Keisha is one of Finalsite's many talented web designers and front-end developers. She currently serves on the board of directors for AIGA, a professional design association. On a personal level, Keisha loves interesting fashion, traveling to new places with great art museums, and killer make-up and nail art.
- Best Practices
- Web Design
- Website Redesign