About … Admissions … Academics … There are standard pages that every school website needs.
But then there are the pages that allow schools to get creative. Showcase their personalities. Connect with specific audiences. And these are the sections of a website where a school gets to shine.
One of my clients, The International School of Boston (ISB), recently launched a new website that was months in the making. Not only did the project include a complete structure and design overhaul, but also a total re-telling of the school’s story.
The result: some new, unique website pages that I believe other schools could use as models in storytelling.
Here are some new ways to present often overlooked content on your school’s website:
We talk a lot about positioning, or defining your school’s “sweet spot”, and how to create a story that both resonates with your audience and sets you apart. But here’s the secret: you don’t need to cushion that positioning in soft, indirect content. You can, and should, simply come out and say: “Here is why you should choose our school over all the others.”
ISB does this on the page Why Choose ISB?. The page introduces the school and then lays out the specific benefits of an ISB education. It’s clear, straightforward, and makes the case.
Again, most schools aim to attract a specific audience. So make it clear who that audience is, and make it easy for your website readers to see (or not see) themselves reflected there.
In ISB’s case, the school is multilingual, with French and English being the primary languages learned. So while it wants to welcome all who are interested, a specific type of student does well with its curriculum.
To help interested families understand this BEFORE they even inquire, ISB clearly details its ideal students in the Who Should Apply at ISB? section of Admissions. Here is the example from its Maternelle (PreK-Kindergarten) application:
The biggest hurdle your site has to overcome is standing out amongst your competitors. You want to make an impact and be memorable. You want your audience to immediately understand what makes your school/curriculum/community unique.
ISB showcases its difference in many ways throughout the site, but the most striking example is on its homepage. In The ISB Difference section, users not only see the school’s various brand attributes written out, but also can click into each to get more information. This section mixes video, text and stories to bring these attributes to life. It gives readers reasons to believe ISB’s positioning.
Can you put your school’s approach to learning in words? You should!
ISB does this for each of its schools: Preschool & Kindergarten, Lower School, Middle School and Upper School. Each Approach to Learning page explains the philosophy behind the curriculum. It’s a great way for families to see their personal educational beliefs reflected in the actual classroom work.
ISB has a double challenge — it not only has to sell the school, but also the benefits of a bilingual education. And one of the ways it does this is on a page called The Power of Languages: Students Benefit from Being Bilingual.
This page gives textual support for the benefits of learning languages, but more powerful than that is the video that shows the school’s students and faculty talking about those benefits in their own words (and own languages). It brings the ISB community to life.
ISB also has a page where you can Meet ISB Graduates. This is yet another way the school demonstrates its results in its students’ words, showcasing the diverse impact an ISB education has had on alumni.
Consider this the next time you want to demonstrate your school’s results. Is there a way for you to show, rather than tell?
These are just a handful of the hidden gems in the new ISB website. If you’re looking for storytelling inspiration for your school, I encourage you to explore it in full — and as always, become a Cursive Insider to receive even more school marketing tips and ideas directly to your inbox.
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