Skip To Main Content
Destroying the Dead-ends on Your School Website
Connor Gleason

Every page on your school’s website should be an open road, inviting users to explore, learn more, and convert. After each desired action takes place, whether it’s an inquiry form submission, a newsletter sign-up, or the download of a resource, there should be more content, another resource, or an additional call to action to offer more content, improving the user experience and engaging the user even further.

Dead-ends are moments when a visitor has nowhere obvious to go, and every time a user encounters a dead-end, they face a decision: try to navigate back or leave the website altogether.

Even the best school website designs have unintentional roadblocks in the user journey, leaving users wondering, ”Where to now?”

These abrupt stops can disrupt a prospective family’s journey and not only jolt visitors out of their experience but reduce the chance of fully engaging a user. Dead-ends harm the overall user experience, leading to missed opportunities to share more about your school, increase engagement, and ultimately, increase conversions.

Destroying these dead-ends becomes essential for any school looking to pave the way toward the road to success and optimize its online presence and engagement.

Make a U-Turn: Benefits of Deleting Dead-ends

Prolonged Engagement

A continuous user journey leads to longer time on pages and sessions. The more time users spend, the better they understand your school's values, mission, and programs.

Higher Conversion

With each additional interaction or page view, the chances of a user taking your desired action, like filling out a form, registering for an event, or starting an application, grows.

Improved User Satisfaction

A smooth user journey and improved navigation lead to happy visitors. When they can navigate easily, find what they need, and feel the continuous flow of the site, they're more likely to return and recommend.

Keep ReadingThe Need for Empathy in Your School Website User Experience

Click me

Follow the Detour: Pages with High Exit Rates

A page with a high exit rate isn’t necessarily always a bad thing — depending on the page. If a user submits an inquiry and then leaves your site, that’s great for your admissions office. If a family visits your tuition site and then exits after seeing the cost of tuition, then there’s work to be done.

"Thank You" Pages After Form Submissions

While it's polite to thank visitors after completing a form, a simple acknowledgment can inadvertently end the user journey.

Solution: Say thank you, but then direct visitors to related articles and upcoming school events, or point them to other relevant sections of your school website. Each of these pathways increases the chances of further engagement.

Tuition Page

The tuition page is one of the most visited sections of a school website. Prospective students and parents, before making a commitment, often want a clear understanding of the financial aspect of the investment.

After digesting the tuition information, families may be left with questions or concerns. If they don’t find immediate avenues to explore financial aid, scholarship opportunities, or flexible payment plans, they might feel overwhelmed or discouraged. A barebones tuition page with just the price tag and no additional guidance can inadvertently create a dead-end.

Solution: Transform the tuition page and reassure users that your school understands their financial concerns. Consider including access to financial aid webinars, a downloadable resource on affording private school, or 1:1 interviews to discuss:

  • Financial Aid Information: Position links or buttons leading to detailed financial aid resources and application processes.
  • Scholarship Opportunities: Highlight any scholarship options available and application deadlines.
Sun Valley Community School tuition page

Sun Valley Community Schools offers many avenues for more engagement on its tuition page: information about tuition assistance, answers to FAQs, CTAs to contact the admissions office, and more.

404 Error Pages

A missing webpage or a mistyped URL can land users on the dreaded 404 error page. Instead of a plain error message, it's an opportunity to guide lost visitors back into the fold.

Solution: A custom 404 page with a friendly tone can make all the difference. Consider adding links to popular sections of your school website or a search bar to help them find their way.

Springman Middle School 404

Who doesn’t love a good pun? The Wildcats of Springman Middle School keep things light with its 404 page and some helpful links to popular pages.

Flamingos wondering the website went

The American Overseas of Rome also adds a few laughs with its flock of confused flamingos looking for a new page to fly to with the help of its most visited pages.

Keeping Reading: 9 Great Examples of Custom 404 Pages on School Websites

Admission Pages

The admission section of a school website is a critical junction. Once parents or students gather information, they should feel a clear sense of direction.

Solution: This is where a well-placed call to action comes into play. Whether it's prompting them to “Schedule a visit to our campus,” “Submit an inquiry,” or “Start your application process,” each CTA nudges them a step further in their user journey no matter where they are in the process.

JSerra Admissions page

There are multiple roads to take after browsing the admission pages of JSerra. Whether they're just looking for more information or want to register for an open house, users can make the most of their journey.

Through Finalsite Enrollment, users on its site can take the next step for what feels right for them in just a few clicks, like planning a visit to campus, submitting an inquiry, or starting a formal application.

Keep Reading: Tips for Crafting Calls to Action for Admissions

Inquiry Confirmation page

Gathering inquiries is vital, and for many marketing offices, it's the end goal. Yet, after submitting their forms, families need to know their options.

Solution: A blog subscription or a prospective newsletter sign-up can keep them connected. This way, even after they've received their answers, they remain part of the school's ongoing conversation.

Keep Reading: The Anatomy of the Perfect Admissions Inquiry School Landing Page

Blog Posts

Blog posts are a fantastic way to offer insights, thought leadership, and updates about your school. However, reaching the end of an article shouldn't mean the end of their site experience.

Solution: At the conclusion of each post, recommend related blogs. Or, offer a subscription to your regular blog round-up or newsletter to explore other sections of the school website. It’s easy to do with the Finalsite Posts module.

The Quaker School at Horsham blog

The Quaker School at Horsham takes this approach with its blog and offers more stories, a short form to subscribe to the blog, and even a chance to engage with its admission office by an “apply now” CTA.

Employee Page

Visitors might visit the employee page seeking contact details or getting to know the faculty. However, it's also an excellent place to showcase the school's culture.

Solution: Encourage potential employees to "Follow” you on social media so they’re the first to know about open positions. This not only keeps them informed but also subtly promotes your school's social channels.

Landon employee page

No dead ends here! Landon’s stellar employment page features all the reasons to join the teaching community and more. Even if there’s not an open position that catches a prospect’s eye, CTAs for downloading a viewbook, following Landon on Instagram, and a look into their admission and academic programs would keep any top talent browsing.

Key Takeaway

Every website evolves, adapts, grows, and changes. As it does, new opportunities emerge to refine and enhance the user journey. By proactively considering the user's experience at every turn and every click, you enhance the experience — every interaction is a step closer to achieving your website's goals.

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.