Skip To Main Content
11 Things to Delete (and Add) to Your School's Website
Connor Gleason

Whether it’s because they aren’t accessible, not mobile-friendly, or just annoying, there are certain things that just don’t have any business being on your school or district's website.

Visitors to your site are sensitive. And picky. And impatient. Although well-intended, sometimes we add things to our web pages because we *think* they’re helping, but they end up doing just the opposite.

Fortunately, there are some easy edits to your website that can quickly improve a user's experience. Here's the content that you should remove from your school’s website design (pronto!) and what you can replace it with.

1. Stock photos

Users can usually sniff out a stock photo from a mile away. They’re fake, every school has access to them, and they work against all your other efforts to present your unique school’s brand.

Add this instead:

Your own photos! They’re genuine, it’s your community, and no one else has them. When it comes to showing authentic, inspiring moments, there’s no substitute for the real thing. Teachers and students engaged with classwork, and your community showing emotion throughout your campus —stock images can't do that nearly as well.

2. Your testimonials page

Yes, testimonials are the “social proof” we all look for before making big decisions. They’re a huge part of your school marketing effort, and when you’ve got some really powerful quotes to share, it’s like gold. But if you have an entire page solely dedicated to testimonials, you need to hit “delete” and rethink your strategy.

Add this instead:

This “evidence” should be as physically close to the conversion you’re pushing for, not on a page disconnected from content and without context. Have a quote about the impact of a donation? Put it near your “give now” button. Do you have a wonderful testimonial from a student about their experience in the classroom? Put it on the admissions or community page.

Blair Academy quote

Blair Academy includes a great testimonial right on its Support Blair page. It’s no coincidence — as generous donors make their choice to support the school, social proof supports their decision. Nicely done!

3. Photos of text

Not only are they not accessible, but they’re just hard to read, especially on a mobile device. Lose the slideshows of lunch menus and the community flyers posted as thumbnails on your homepage and swap them for stories. Save the graphic design work for more image-friendly platforms, like Instagram, and move your announcements to a page more suited for communications.

Add this instead:

I challenge you to find another way to present the information, which could easily be done through an engaging photo and limited text. Content presented through Finalsite’s Posts module is flexible enough to accommodate news, blogs, school announcements, updates, and more.

4. PDFs

PDFs pose a variety of accessibility challenges — they’re annoying to update, they look bad on a mobile device, they’re not translatable, and they are usually oversized. You can’t easily add engaging content, and they don’t do your SEO efforts any favors. The list goes on and on… When you recreate your PDFs as content on your website, you’re doing yourself and your users a big favor.

Consider this:

  PDFs Website
Measurable No Yes
Shareable Not really Yes
Easily Updated No Yes
Interactive Not really Yes
SEO-friendly Not always Yes
Accessible Not always Yes

Add this instead:

It’s time to present PDF content digitally. Student handbooks, curriculum guides, brochures — they all can be reimagined as sections and pages on your website. As website content, they’re much easier to update, they're searchable and translatable, and they remove a lot of barriers in terms of accessibility.

Maret school curriculum

Maret School presents its curriculum online using Finalsite Posts, making it easy for students and parents to navigate the resources and information about all its academic programs. Unlike a PDF, the categories and filters make it easy to search, and the icons make it so easy to view on a mobile device.

5. Vertical photos

Vertically-oriented photos belong framed on your bookshelves, not on your website. Unless it’s part of an intricate design element, it’s tricky to effectively pull off a vertical photo that reproduces well on a mobile device. Plus, most multi-column content elements stack left-to-right when viewed on a smartphone, and that can create some awkward user experiences.

Add this instead:

Try to stick to horizontal photos that are cropped with common aspect ratios, like 4:3, 5:7, or even 16:9. They’re more comfortable to the eye, and they respond better on an iPhone or Android device.

The Ultimate School Website Planner

6. CTAs that say “Click Here” 

Without a prompt, visitors may not know what to do next. Directions are helpful, but these vague “click here” calls to action lack emotion and fail accessibility standards. This makes it difficult for users with disabilities to engage with your site or determine what they’re accessing with screen readers. 

Add this instead:

Your CTAs should be engaging and distinctive. Not only will action-oriented words and phrases entice visitors to click, but they'll also meet accessibility standards and can be deciphered by screen readers. Try “Learn more about our enrollment process” or “Contact the front office” instead.

SAS calls to action

The CTA’s on Singapore American School’s admissions page are great examples of descriptive, unique language and when paired with the icons and declarations above, making a choice is easy and accessible.

7. Lengthy paragraphs with too much text

Your visitors don’t like to read pages with too much text. Attention spans are short, and lengthy paragraphs that lack proper subheadings, design elements, and images are challenging for users with dyslexia and other accessibility considerations. 

Add this instead:

Since 50 percent or more of web traffic is through a mobile device, be strategic about how you present your content. Write concisely, organize your text into smaller chunks, use bullet points, and use images and iconography to help break up longer groupings of text.

Pro tip: When it comes to visitors actually reading your content:

  • Long paragraphs are skipped
  • Headings are scanned
  • Paragraphs and bullet points are read

8. Email links

If there are links across your site that say “send us your questions at” or “sign up at,” it’s not doing anyone any favors. Email links like those are just a middle-man; clicking them launches that annoying email app, and without context, they only make asking a question or submitting a response that much harder for your office.

Add this instead:

A short, branded, embedded form directly on your site allows your visitors to stay on the page and provides a better user experience. You can also send them to a custom landing page and a "thank you" email upon submission.

Whites District forms

Here’s a simple but good example: White’s Junior/Senior High School has a contact form for families to get in touch. They could have just hyperlinked some “Email Us” text, but their branded form will track submissions, cc’ an admin, and send an automated message once the form has been submitted.

9. QR codes

These little digital shortcuts have a purpose, and they certainly are handy with your print and digital marketing efforts, but if you’re viewing a QR code while using your smartphone — how are you supposed to access it???

Add this instead:

If you’re trying to make sharing your content easy, consider using an easy-to-remember vanity URL or adding social sharing buttons to your content. Simple!

10. Google Universal Analytics

With the rollout of Google Analytics 4, we’ll soon be saying “goodbye” to Universal Analytics and its data. If you haven’t done so already, enable GA4 on your site so you can accumulate as much historical data for month-month and year-to-year comparisons.

Add this instead:

The longer you wait, the less data you’ll have to compare from previous years, so get GA4 set up now and start learning the basics.

Keep Reading: Google Analytics 4 for Schools

11. Music

Sorry to be a downer, but no one wants to hear your auto-play videos or audio on your school’s site. This can be disruptive and makes it difficult for visitors to focus on the content they came to see. I think we’ve all experienced the shock of a video played at full volume… Also, music and voiceovers without captions aren’t accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Try this instead:

It’s simple: Remove the sounds from auto-play videos and focus on the visuals being presented. For your videos embedded on your site, make the audio optional and add captions to videos with voiceover/speech.

Key takeaway

It’s now clear that all of these things were, at one point, designed to help users and enhance the website experience. And while well intended, times have changed, users’ expectations have shifted, and it’s important to factor in how families search for and consume information. Make these swaps, upgrades, and changes today, and you’ll be that much closer to an amazing user experience.

The Ultimate School Website Planner

Connor Gleason Headshot


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.

Explore More Recent Blogs

Subscribe to the Finalsite Blog

Love what you're reading? Join the 10k school marketers who get the newest best practices delivered to their inbox each week.

Request a FREE
website report card

Want feedback on your school or district's site? Get a free website report card, generated by an in-house website expert, sent right to your inbox.