Charter schools across the country have been upping their digital presence over the past few years as charter schools in key markets were still fighting for enrollment numbers. But 2020 was a catalyst that struck the charter school market by storm, ushering in challenges that forced charter schools to adapt their recruitment and communications strategies online; a drastic change from the mostly in-person events, open houses and word-of-mouth approach that had worked so well in the years prior.
To help overcome these challenges, we saw many charter school websites shift beyond their utilitarian purpose to focus on telling unique stories and bringing communities to life online — and the ones that have done it well, have seen success in a difficult year.
So, what makes a “best of” charter school website? A dynamic combination of brilliant design, well-crafted content, and a user experience optimized for today’s parent — someone who has high expectations and a low threshold for waiting. In addition to user experience, the best charter school websites of 2020 also take into account the mobile experience — ensuring that content is accessible to all future and current stakeholders, whether or not they have Internet access.
And while it was certainly hard to narrow down our list to just five (there is a lot of impressive work out there!), it’s time to celebrate the best charter school websites of 2020!
- Legacy Early College | South Carolina
- Benjamin Franklin Charter School | Arizona
- Hogan Prep | Missouri
- University Prep Public Schools | New York
- Wesley Academy | Georgia
Legacy Early College | South Carolina
This is hands down one of the best charter school websites out there. This charter school has already established its own legacy of transforming the lives of thousands of teens in the underserved communities of Greenville County since 2010 — and it's that legacy they were ready to bring to life online with a new website.
And boy, do they bring that story to life! Entering the website through the homepage, you’re immediately drawn in by the elegance of warm and cool tones, stunning video, and compelling tagline: Your legacy begins here. Brilliant!
And while that’s the first impression, the website continues to impress. As you scroll, “Pride” becomes an interactive experience, a clever acronym for the school’s values and which plays throughout the site’s content and designs. The “Why We’re Different” and “Legacy Voices” panels tell captivating stories of success.
However, you can’t just land on the “best of” list for a great homepage, your interior pages matter too. The “Schools” landing page has nice details, but even pages like “Health and Nutrition” are excellent examples of a nice layout combined with a strong design sensibility.
In addition to design, the accessibility of the website’s content is the gold standard. An easy-to-use mega navigation, mobile-friendly website pages, and bilingual language option for Spanish website visitors, this website not only looks great, but works great for its target audience.
Needless to say, the classroom isn’t the only place Legacy Early College is leaving behind a leaving behind a legacy.
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Benjamin Franklin Charter School | Arizona
While Legacy Early College’s custom website design is certainly stunning, Benjamin Franklin Charter School in Arizona proves that you don’t need to invest in a custom design to have a brilliant website – and that one of Finalsite’s theme web designs can help you sprint over the finish line, too.
For a charter school, 25 years is a long time to have been around, so “Excellence in Education since 1995” is worth the opening homepage message. “Tuition-Free and A-Rated” follows soon after. This content, coupled with the school’s high resolution photography, showcases a charter school that is full of energy.
With a focus on recruitment, calls-to-action like “Visit” and “Enroll” help guide prospective families from point A to point B easily, while the double utility navigation allows for quick access to content for current families.
Throughout the site you’ll find pleasant photography, compelling content, and a refreshing navigation experience that only leaves you wanting more — in a good way.
Well done, Benjamin Franklin Charter School — we’d like to say that you can add “Excellence in Web Design since 2020” to your list of accomplishments!
Hogan Prep | Missouri
There is so much to love about Hogan Prep’s website.
First things first: if you look closely, you will notice that Hogan Prep and Benjamin Franklin Charter School use the same Finalsite theme design — but they look totally different. While that is a testament to the flexibility and customization options of theme designs, it is more so a testament of creativity — and that is something we want to acknowledge Hogan Prep for.
From the bold color palette to the school’s motivational language, you feel as though you’ve been transported from your home office to the lively classrooms, halls and fields of the Hogan Prep energy — inspired by the young leaders ready to move, shake, and to jump off the homepage.
There’s an energy that exists from the moment you land on Hogan Prep’s website within this that you have to experience yourself to truly understand it.
Further down the homepage, the pattern of powerful images continue, with clear guidance from calls-to-action to help visitors explore the school’s divisions and programs. The variety and breadth of images — students with backpacks and easels, football gear and textbooks — is as diverse as it is inspiring.
This accomplished tuition-free charter school has a lot to be proud of over the years — and they finally have a website that allows them to “Do Amazing” online, too.
University Prep Public Schools | New York
While this charter school website launched in early 2021, we just had to include it in our “Best Of” list for 2020 because there is so much to love about this site! First up, the bold color palette of greens and blues immediately gives you a feeling of “this place is different.” And it is! University Prep Public Schools is the highest performing charter organization in the South Bronx with a college acceptance rate of 100%, parent approval rating of 99% and 98% graduation rate.
With the school still in its infancy having opened in 2008, they have a big story to tell — which they do brilliantly on their new custom website design. Greeted by a custom homepage, their big story unfolds on their homepage as you scroll through testimonials, a college slider, and infographics, while pages like “Results” and “Approach” focus on finer details.
University Prep Public Schools left no stone unturned on their interior pages, either. Smart design and content choices ensure mobile-friendly layouts on essential pages in the school’s Admissions and About sections. You can tell they put a lot of thought and attention to detail into their content.
As a charter school that focuses on getting results, we are certain that this new site will help them get the results they desire for recruitment in 2021 and beyond.
Wesley International Academy | Georgia
All we have to say about this website is: “Wow!” Land on Wesley Academy’s homepage, and you’re transported from your dreary (home) office to an international charter school beaming with life and culture.
And just like that, we’re hooked. But wait, there’s more. So much more.
The site’s design and color palette is vibrant to match its community. The use of red throughout the site — in both text, design and photography — offers a thoughtful look user experience. Everything just feels “right.” Infographics, photography and testimonials tell a story of how Wesley International Academy is definitely right for you, too.
All of this is important — as the Atlanta, GA market is a competitive one among public, private and charter schools. But, with a new website in place, Wesley International Academy is telling its one-of-a-kind story in a brilliant new way. Well done!
Charter schools are transforming the way they market and communicate — and a beautiful and easy-to-navigate website is the foundation for success. It was hard to pick a “best of” list for charter schools this year — we’re so proud of all our charter schools who launched new websites in 2020 and look forward to watching your stories unfold even more as we move through the new year.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mia is a creative and passionate school marketing thought-leader. Since joining the Finalsite team in 2013, Mia has produced hundreds of pieces of content with one goal in mind: helping private, public, and international schools improve their online presence. In her current role as director of demand generation, Mia focuses on full-funnel inbound marketing strategies. She's also a co-host on The School Marketing Show, a frequent blogger, e-book author, Expert Course consultant and webinar host. She loves putting storytelling at the heart of all communications — and before joining the Finalsite team, Mia was a TV and radio broadcaster, wedding cinematographer, and author for various online magazines. She is an army wife, mom, and rookie photographer currently living in southern Georgia.