When my daughter started preschool, I spent a lot of time looking at the websites of preschools in my area (and also a lot of time thinking, “Where did my baby go?!”).
It was important to me to find the right school— one that fit our schedule, reflected our philosophies and would nurture her little three-year-old spirit.
Because, while it was “just” preschool, it was a big deal to me. It was my daughter’s first real school experience and I wanted it to be great. I was paying money for it and I wanted it to be a good investment. I was putting my daughter in the care of someone else, and I wanted to feel confident that she was in good hands.
Those feelings aren’t unique to newbie parents sending their toddlers to preschool. They’re the same feelings that rise up in all conscientious parents sending their kids to school anywhere, from preschool right through college. Which is exactly why it’s so important that your school’s website connect not just with students, but with parents.
Not sure your website hits the mark? Here are 4 questions to ask yourself.
You might not realize it, but you can probably predict the questions parents will ask—because they’re the ones you’ve already heard dozens or even hundreds of times. Answering their questions negates their need to ask it, which makes you seem like a genius mind-reader and makes your school seem like a great fit.
Make sure you have the basics covered (tuition, deadlines, application process), then move on to the more in-depth or emotional questions that you commonly hear (like: what happens if my boarding school student gets homesick?).
By doing this, you will ease parents mind, position your school as super helpful and make it clear that you’re in touch with parents’ concerns.
Parents care deeply about their child’s future—but they also care about their child’s present. If you want to make parents feel really good about your school, focus on both the long- and short- term benefits for the student. Make it clear that the time the student spends at your school will be among the best of his or her life— and point out the benefits that experience will continue to bring after they leave.
Give specific examples, use exceptional photography that illustrates your point and don’t forget the little details that prove why your school is an outstanding choice. For example, telling parents that 90% of graduates go on to Ivy-League colleges is important, but so is sharing the fact that your dining hall only serves local, organic food.
The tone of your website should reflect your outlook and philosophies, as well. If your school is super nurturing, make sure to use language that makes parents feel that warmth. Is your school known for its military-style strictness? That’s what your ideal family is looking for, so speak to them in a way that shows your style. The only wrong choice for language and tone is an inauthentic one.
I’m interested in your school. Now what? Do I call someone? Send an email? Sign up for a tour or an informational session?
As a website visitor, there’s nothing more frustrating than wanting to take action and not knowing what to do, or having to go out of your way to do it. That sounds lazy, but it’s not. This is the age of instant information, and you don’t want to make your audience work hard to get in touch with you.
Write each page of website copy with a goal in mind by answering the question: What do I want people to do once they’ve read this? Then, you can include a clear call to action that answers the question of what you want people to do next.
You will be judged on your website. I guarantee it.
Is it such a leap for parents to think that a school with an antiquated website might have antiquated facilities or technology? If your content is out-of-date, could you fault a parent for wondering if your communication with them will be equally lax?
By looking at your website with the needs and concerns of parents in mind, you will be able to create a better online experience that makes them feel great about your school.
Ready to make website changes? Get extra credit with School Website Content: When to Keep It, Save It, Trash It [A Checklist].