The first glimpse many families have of your school is through the tiny screen of a mobile device. The average American spends nearly 5 ½ hours a day on their mobile device, checking their phones 96 times daily — or once every 10 minutes.
And whether they're browsing your website while waiting in line for coffee or scrolling through pages during their child's soccer practice, these moments, however fleeting, are crucial. They form the first impression of your school and can be the deciding factor whether or not they take the next step.
So, your school needs to adopt a "mobile-first" admissions process, and it's just as much about making your website look good on smartphones as it is crafting an experience that is engaging, intuitive, and seamless on smaller screens — after all, nearly 60 percent of website traffic comes from mobile devices these days.
When your admissions pages and processes prioritize a mobile-friendly user experience, you remove barriers discouraging busy parents from learning more about your school. Easy, intuitive navigation, fast-loading pages, and clear, concise information mean increases in inquiries from parents, and students can find what they need — without frustration.
Mobile-First Design in School Admissions: Understanding the Mobile User’s Needs
Creating an effective mobile admissions process is about understanding the needs of mobile users:
- Mobile User Habits and Expectations: Mobile device users want information quickly and easily. Prospective students and parents are on the go, so they might not have the patience for long forms or slow-loading pages, long paragraphs of text, or small calls to action that are hard to click.
- Importance in Decision-Making: For many families, the first impression of your school comes from its website. Showcasing the value of your school and supporting it with engaging content on your admission pages carries them to the next step, whether it’s inquiring, registering for an event, or downloading a viewbook.
Did You Know? According to Google, fifty-three percent of users are likely to leave a webpage if it takes more than three seconds to load, and half of us expect pages to load in less than two seconds!
Key Components of a Mobile-Friendly Admissions Site
Creating a mobile-friendly admissions site involves making it accessible and engaging on a smartphone. Responsive design, easy navigation, speed optimization, and accessible content — each of these elements plays a vital role in providing an enjoyable experience for users, which is key to keeping them engaged and interested in your school.
- Responsive Design: This is about making sure your admission pages look good and work well on any device, large or small. Everything should adjust automatically to fit the screen it's being viewed on (including tablets.)
- Easy Navigation: Menus should be simple, and buttons need to be big enough to tap with a finger on little mobile screens. The goal is to make it easy for users to find what they're looking for without frustration.
- Speed: Always be mindful of the size of the content on your pages, and that includes using large video files, optimizing images for the web, and using icons to replace large images or groups of text.
- Accessible Content: Use fonts and text sizes that are easy to read on small screens. Make sure your buttons and links are physically large enough for users to access with their thumbs.
Simplifying the Admissions Journey for Mobile Users
The private school admissions process can be complex, but when your site is optimized for mobile users, it can become a smoother experience.
Streamlined Inquiry Form
Making It Short and Sweet: Long forms can be overwhelming, especially on a small screen. Keep your inquiry form short. Through your admissions software, ask only for essential information like name, contact details, and perhaps a few key questions about the student's interests or educational needs. This way, parents and students can fill it out quickly and without frustration.
Easy Navigation: Drop-down menus and checkboxes make filling out forms on a mobile device much more straightforward. They speed up the process and reduce the chances of errors. Plus, they're great for keeping the form tidy and manageable.
A streamlined inquiry form, an easy-to-navigate admissions calendar, and features within Finalsite Enrollment, Finalsite's enrollment management system, can encourage engagement and significantly enhance the mobile experience — all of which increases the likelihood of an inquiry or event registration.
Optimized Admissions Calendar
Easy Access: Your admissions calendar should be one of the first things parents and students find when they visit your admissions site on a mobile device. It should be clear, up-to-date, and easy to read, even on smaller screens.
Interactive Features: Add features that let users sign up for visits to campus, 1:1 meetings, or open house events. For example, they should be able to tap on a date to get more information about an event or deadline.
User Experience and Accessibility
Readable and Navigable: Use fonts that are easy to read on small screens and organize your content so it's easy to find what users are looking for. Menus should be simple, and important information like contact details, FAQs, and application guides should be just a few taps away.
Inclusive Design: Remember, not everyone interacts with mobile content the same way. Some might use screen readers, others will want to translate your admissions page into their preferred language, while some users rely on larger text. Making your site accessible to everyone is essential.
Submission and Immediate Confirmation: Once the inquiry form is complete, submitting it should be a breeze. A brief, automatic confirmation message should appear, and a follow-up email should be sent immediately, both of which should be easy to read on mobile devices.
Don’t forget: The email could include the next steps, additional resources, and a thank-you message from your admissions office — but keep it mobile-friendly!
After the Submission: Keep users engaged on your site with easy access to other parts of your website. Mobile-friendly navigation with clear labels and an intuitive navigation structure will help guide users around your site comfortably — and quickly.
By making these changes, your school's admission process will be much more user-friendly for mobile users. This not only makes life easier for families, but it can make a difference in how families view your school.
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.