Support for school choice programs increased last year, and for families looking for alternative options to public and private schools, charter schools have remained a popular option for parents nationwide.
In California, more than one in four parents switched their child’s school during the pandemic, with many transferring from districts to charter schools. Meanwhile, across the county in Florida, enrollment in school choice options increased by more than 40,000 students during the 2020-2021 school year, putting charter schools at the top of families’ lists and growing by 3.9%.
As more and more families weigh multiple options for their child’s education, it’s all that much more important to make a great first impression with your charter school’s website design and online presence to stand out in an increasingly competitive field.
An outstanding charter school needs an outstanding website and for some fresh inspiration, we selected some of our favorite examples of amazing design, user experience, and storytelling — all important factors for leaving a lasting impact and capturing the attention of prospective families.
Birmingham describes itself as “thriving” and with the site opening into a full-width, high-energy video with students fully engaged in thrilling athletics, a bustling student life, science labs, and at the center of a pumped-up crowd, it certainly makes a strong first impression. The video wraps with an amazing aspirational shot of a graduate, fist-pumping against a setting California sun — you can’t not think of the iconic ending shot from “The Breakfast Club.”
The “Dream It. Do It.” mantra of Birmingham is bold, but the charter school’s mission and values outline the environment that provides an academically challenging, personalized, and supportive setting that prepares students to be the best version of themselves and pursue their goals — Dream It. Do It.
A grid of “what we offer” pops off the page, showcasing all the differentiators found at Birmingham — like a school for accelerated studies, counseling, grade level academies, and a career pathways program. With strong "At a Glance" and "Our Community" sections a bit further down on the homepage, this charter school’s site presents more like a landing page of polished private or secondary school sites, but without the hefty financial investment. Impressive!
MOT Charter School knows just how much power families have when choosing a school — that’s why we love their section “Choosing a Charter,” where they outline how they give the best of themselves to students, every day.
Load up MOT Charter School’s site on a smartphone and you’ll also see how well the school knows that a mobile-friendly browsing experience can make a world of difference. MOT accomplishes a lot with the use of its Theme design — easily accessible menus, quick links, CTAs to their admissions office and a fly-out panel with the latest news and upcoming events puts everything families need within a few clicks.
As one of the first charter schools founded in Colorado, The Academy of Charter Schools has been operating successfully for over 20 years. Centered around the notions of "Prepare, Explore, and Empower,” its homepage leans into the idea of their program being the start of a transformative journey.
Whether in the classrooms during a lesson, connecting themes of sustainability while working on a farm, or focusing on a lab project, the academy builds upon the foundational lessons of academic skills, real-world learning, and practicing habits of the mind that will prepare them for success now and later in life.
With an experience like this, it’s not surprising that about 100 students enter its lottery pool every year, a process clearly outlined on its intuitive enrollment pages. The site’s new visual identity has come a long way, too — just take a look at what the site was before its partnership with Finalsite!
“Enlace” comes from the Spanish word for “link” or “connection,” and users can instantly feel that relation when they load up Enlace Academy’s homepage. Imagery filled with smiles, passion, and the joy of childhood is found throughout its pages, and visitors can get a true sense of Enlace’s strong family and community engagement.
With just a click of a button, Enlace can translate their site into Spanish, French, or even Burmese with Weglot’s translation services and welcome an even wider audience to their growing community.
“Our Story, Our Approach, Our Community…’’’ in its main navigation tells the story of a community focused on creating meaningful connections between students, staff, and families, and with branded testimonials throughout its pages, that story comes to life.
Its “Why Enlace?” page provides just enough detail to entice visitors who are curious about what makes their charter school different, and with a succinct inquiry form embedded within its site, they’re sure to capture the interest of more and more families.
As an entrepreneurial, not-for-profit organization, Open Sky Education is comprised of a network of learning environments that includes Hope Christian Schools and Eagle College Preparatory Schools, as well as Compass Educational Programs and the Character Formation Project. There's cohesive branding between the sites, but each webpage is still able to offer its own identity to its respective audience.
Open Sky aims to provide more high-quality learning opportunities for more children— some who have lost access to academic, faith, and character formation opportunities.
Their story of accessible and affordable education for all comes alive on their sites with a simple, yet engaging presentation that tells a clear mission of attracting the best-fit families and leaders. The group values learning, leading, laughing, loving, and ensuring those models are sustainable — all organized concisely on a mission and values page. Nicely done!
As families discover they have more available choices for their child’s education, charter schools hoping to capture the interest of prospective families need to consider the impressions they’re creating with families. A strong first impression with a user-centered design can set the tone for future relationships and help your charter school stand out in an increasingly competitive field.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.