In order to understand how to increase inquiries, it is important to understand the applicant journey. When we analyze a school's applicant's journey and the admission funnel, we consider three main stages, awareness, consideration and decision:
- Awareness: The stage in which they are weighing their options and aren't sure if they want to attend private school in general
- Consideration: The stage in which they are choosing the private schools they want to learn more about
- Decision: The stage in which they decide which private school to attend
If you're looking to increase inquiries, your school's website should focus on content and design elements that move a prospective student from awareness to consideration.
For content, you'll want to focus on value propositions, authentic content and visual content to nudge your prospect down the funnel. Once your content is in place, you'll need to make that conversion as easy as possible. This is where the design and architecture of your school's website comes into play.
Here are four of the best school website design ideas we've seen recently for increasing inquiries:
Use A Cinemagraph
Cinemagraphs are still photographs where there is a minor and repeated movement that occurs, forming a video clip. Because they are saved as a GIF file, cinemagraphs have much smaller file sizes than the popular embedded hero videos, but offer as much opportunity to engage website visitors. According to Flixel, a cinemagraph software, cinemagraphs increase image "dwell time" from one second to nine seconds.
Repton School in the UK uses a cinemagraph as the main image on their new homepage. Because cinemagraphs are still new, it immediately catches your eye and encourages you to learn more. Additionally, because cinemagraphs are uploaded as an image, not a GIF, they can be implemented on any website or interior page.
How can you use this increase in dwell time to your advantage? Place a call-to-action button with a link to your inquiry, open house, or request information form. Because website visitors spend 9x the amount of time looking at a cinemagraph than they do an image, they are less likely to scroll past your CTA.
Shorten Forms on a Unique Landing Page
While a short form may not necessarily be a school website design idea, it is certainly a design element than can boost your school's online inquiries. Because online forms are your school's biggest conversion tool, it is essential to consider the relation between form length, the level of commitment, and what is provided in return.
In all industries, when the length of a form is shortened, the conversion rates are higher — much higher:
- There is a 120% increase in conversions when you reduce the number of form fields from 11 to 4
- There is a 20% conversion rate on forms with only 3-5 fields
- The average conversion rate on a form with 11+ fields is only 5.4%
For inquiry forms, we suggest using 3-6 form fields: first name, last name, email, and then 2-3 more fields you need in order to communicate with them and send targeted messages.
However, be aware that forms should never stand alone on a page, as the page on which a form is located should focus on giving that final nudge from awareness to consideration. An inquiry page should have important content elements that drive conversions, include value propositions, visual content, and social proof.
On-Demand Webinar: Learn how you can start building landing pages that convert.
Use A Sticky Navigation with a Call-to-Action
A sticky navigation with a call-to-action button is one of the best school website design enhancements you can invest in. A sticky navigation — whether docked on the top, right, or left — will follow your user everywhere they go on your site, making it easy for them to make the next step in the process, whether it be to inquire, apply, schedule a tour, or give.
We recommend using a sticky navigation that has at least two options that are appealing to visitors who awareness and consideration stages of the journey. In this example from Nardin Academy, their sticky navigation has three options — Inquire, Apply and Give — that follow you throughout the site.
If your goal is to increase inquiries, you can also opt for a "Request more info" button, or an "attend an open house," button — as both of these aid in moving the prospect from awareness to consideration.
Add A Pop-Out Form
Because forms can often lead to an "end" in the user experience — especially when linking to an SIS form — they can cause more harm than good.
For schools looking to increase inquiries, open house attendance, and eventually enrollment, having a CTA button that makes a form appear from the top or side, rather than linking to a new page, offers some big benefits.
For example, on Grand River Academy's homepage, when you click the "Apply Now" button, a form pops out from the right hand side, that allows you to apply to the school, without causing a disruption in the journey or user experience.
Similarly, when you visit Purnell School's homepage and click "Inquire" a form appears as an overlay across the whole page. Because their inquiry button is docked in their main navigation, this in-page experience can occur anywhere on the site and at any point in the journey.
Designing for enrollment is a strategy that requires a strong correlation between the content on a page, and the accessibility of a short form.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's Content Marketing Manager, Mia plans and executes a variety of inbound marketing and digital content strategies. As a former TV and news reporter, freelance cinematographer and certified inbound marketer, Mia specializes in helping schools find new ways to share their stories online through web design, social media, copywriting, photography and videography. She is the author of numerous blogs, and Finalsite's popular eBook, The Website Redesign Playbook.