It's easy to get swept up in the latest features, chatbots, and flashy interfaces of school website designs. But what truly makes school software stand out? It's simple: putting users first.
Think about it — from eager students and devoted parents to hard-working teachers and staff, your school benefits when their needs are at the forefront.
According to Forbes, more than 85% of consumers prefer to interact with a human when they have an issue, and only 30% believe that chatbots and virtual assistants make it easier to address customer service issues. Users want a human touch.
The best content management system for schools will create bridges, and when technology supports relationships — not replaces them — it will bring your school community closer.
Imagine a site where everyone feels right at home, from new students to the most involved parents. Navigating a school website should feel like walking through a familiar house, not getting lost in a maze.
For your school community, the key lies in creating accessible digital spaces tailored for every member, from personalized portals, parent zones, and mobile apps, to a tailored enrollment experience and parent communications.
Creating Personalized Spaces for Every User
Portals for Parents and Staff: Imagine a secure corner where each user finds what they need. With portals for your school, parents get updates based on their student’s divisions or grades, staff can find resources, and trustees or board members can access important reports and resources. It's like having a personalized digital workspace for everyone.
Parent Zones: Sometimes, parents need to access the latest info quickly, but it’s not sensitive or privileged information. A parent zone, like Saint Andrew’s School’s, can quickly become a dedicated go-to space with school event details, important dates, and resources, ensuring parents always feel connected and in the loop.
Mobile Apps: In a busy world, being mobile-friendly is key. Tailored, personalized mobile apps can receive mass notifications and updates that matter to each user. A school's dedicated mobile app can offer real-time notifications so the right information finds its way, whether it's an upper school soccer match reminder or a lower school schedule change.
The Enrollment Process: Making Connections Personal
Yes, a school's enrollment process is a lot of logistics, but it's the start of a new relationship. By understanding the unique needs of each family, your school can turn the daunting admissions journey into a welcoming and personalized experience.
The more your school knows about its prospective students and families, the better it can cater to their individual needs, aspirations, goals, and even challenges.
Instead of just collecting basic details like name, age, and address, consider adding fields on your inquiry form about a student's hobbies, likes, or future goals. This not only gives the admissions team a clearer picture of the student but also sends a message that your school cares about the individual, not just the numbers.
Just like De La Salle College High School has done, let's say an applicant mentions her interest in robotics on the inquiry form. The admissions team could then use the student data in its enrollment management software (EMS) to highlight the school's strong science program, invite her to a related school event, or connect her with a current student who shares the same interest.
Automated, personalized emails with content specifically catered to that student’s interests save time AND turn a generic admissions process into a personalized experience.
Furthermore, using calendar scheduling tools, parents can pick suitable time slots for school visits, one-on-one meetings, or phone conversations. Parents can view available appointments, book meetings, and even reschedule if necessary, all without endless back-and-forth emails or phone calls. This not only streamlines the process but also respects the busy schedules of today's families.
Reaching Parents Through Their Preferred Communication Channels
Effective school communication is about understanding and catering to your families, and one size does not fit all.
By utilizing varied channels, like SMS text, voice, email, mobile, and website notifications, your school or district can ensure they reach every parent in a personal manner. Tailoring your communications tools and your school's mass notifications to meet parents' preferences ensures stronger relationships and trust.
Everyone has a favorite way to chat, and a mass notifications system sends out texts, voice alerts, emails, mobile app alerts, and website notifications, offering real-time information right at your family's fingertips. Whether it's a quick reminder, formal email, or urgent update, communication should feel comfortable, and this flexibility offers personalized convenience, which makes parents more likely to engage.
Accessibility and Inclusivity: Making Everyone Feel at Home
Inclusivity is an ongoing commitment to ensuring every individual feels valued and included. By addressing accessibility issues and breaking language barriers, your school can create an environment where everyone feels they truly belong.
Flagging Accessibility Issues with Your Website Content
Digital accessibility ensures everyone can use and understand your website, regardless of their abilities. Software like AudioEye and the built-in accessibility tools within Finalsite’s Composer evaluate websites for accessibility concerns. They highlight areas of improvement, such as color contrast issues or missing alt text for images, and by regularly running checks, schools can ensure their content is friendly to all, including those with visual or auditory impairments.
Language Translation Features for Diverse Audience
Services like Weglot, Finalsite’s preferred language translation software, can transform your school’s written content into more than a hundred languages, creating a personalized experience for any non-English speaking user.
Instead of struggling through pages or feeling left out, they can simply choose their preferred language from a dropdown. Instantly, the website content is translated, making information accessible and easily understood.
It's not just about the fanciest features or the sleekest designs. The best websites for schools offer a full-suite solution that makes everyone feel seen, heard, and valued. Prioritizing and personalizing a user experience is a heartfelt approach to connecting with families and developing lasting relationships.
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.