A website redesign is often a great chance for an educational institution to innovate their digital strategy. A lot of clients that we talk to on a regular basis are sometimes unsure as to what they should think about before starting a project like this. In this blog post, we will discuss five things that education marketers should think about about when undergoing a website redesign.
One of the first things you should do when considering a website redesign is to nail down who your target audience is, in other words, who visits your website. The most obvious one is that of students and parents, but that doesn’t mean those are the only people you want to target. Maybe you want to target community members, or potential employees.
Once you have a general idea as to who your target audience is you’ll want to put yourself in their shoes. Why are they coming to your website? What are they looking for? The development of these visitor personas will greatly help in next area of focus.
In todays high tech era, one of your greatest marketing tools is your website. Knowing that, think about what you want your target audience to do once they get to your website. These conversion goals are going to depend upon what type of educational institution you are. For instance, if you are a private school you may want to push prospective parents towards requesting a tour, or to contact a recruiter. If you are a public school, you may to focus on increasing parental involvement.
You will likely have different conversion goals for your each of your target visitor personas, and having an idea as to what each of them are looking for when they get to your website will help you, and your web firm, design strategies for maximizing these conversions.
Design is such an important aspect of your website redesign, and one you should put a lot of thought into. You don’t have to think about how it will look, after all that is what the designer is for, but you should consider what feeling do you wish your students and parents to have when they get to your website. A quality website design should capture the essence of your organization. What makes you stand out from your competition? What is the culture like? What impact does your organization make on your students? These are all good things to express to the designer as they are then able to encapsulate all of that into a beautiful design.
Workflow and Usability Improvements
Although the design phase of your website redesign should make every effort to focus on usability from the sites visitors point of view, site admins are users too. Every admin interface should be designed in such a way that intuitive and easy to use, and that is especially the case when it comes to managing the content of the site itself.
Usability extends beyond just content though. The web is such a powerful tool and is capable of doing so much more than simply displaying a webpage or two, and workflow automation is one of those areas where you can really get a great return on investment. One of the hardest areas for clients to determine is what areas of their workflow could be automated. A good starting point is to think about your conversion goals of your website. Let’s say for instance that you have a recruitment form that a parent is able to fill out and submit. What happens once that form is submitted? Does it have any complex workflows that it needs to go through? How is that submission recorded, and could any of that be automated. You may not know if it could be automated but that is what your web firm is for. They will be able to help you determine what areas are most cost effective and which ones aren’t.
Prioritized Features and Functionality
I saved this one for last, not because it is any less important than the others, but because this is one that you may have already thought about. What types of functionality do you wish for your new website to have? What you are looking for is to nail things down like event calendars, slideshows, parent portals, etc. When coming up with your list of functionality, it’s important to start off by writing everything down that you can think of that you’d like for your site to do. Then once you have your wish list organize those pieces of functionality into three categories: Must Haves, Should Haves, and Like-To-Haves. The “must haves” are things that your site *must* have in order to launch. Should have items are ones that it should have, but aren’t necessarily show stoppers. The “like to haves” are your bells and whistles that you’d like to have happen but only if time and budget allows for it. Having a list like this is important as it allows you and your web firm to focus efforts on what you feel is most important. It also allows you to easily split your web project into phases so that you can spread the cost out over a period of time.
So there you have it, five things to keep in mind when redesigning a website for an educational institution. If while reading this list, you feel as though some of these issues are difficult for you to conceptualize, don’t worry. Your web design firm should walk you through each of these areas and help you determine the best approach moving forward.