How to Choose a School Website Template

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A search for 'school website template' will throw up all sorts of results and resources. But how do you choose the best school website template for your school? At Schudio we've designed hundreds of school websites and want to share with you some key things to think about and help you make the best choice for your new school website design.

The very first thing, even before starting to look for a website template is to plan your new project. We've written a school website planning guide that may be helpful as you go through this process. Website design is covered broadly as part of the planning process. When the key goals and strategic vision are in place for your website it's time to think about how the design can help your school achieve your website goals.

School Website Aim and Objective

Hopefully you've been able to determine your key audience, and objective for your website. If there are secondary objectives consider these too. What elements will your new school website template need to include to ensure these goals are met.

For example:
Key audience is prospective parents, key goal is to encourage parent to apply for a place at your school.
Elements required will be an admissions page that clearly explains what the admissions criteria are, and the process. Clear navigation to find this page is a key requirement.
Requirements could also include an online application form, especially if you require any supplementary information to the local authority applications. (This will give a helpful indication of the number of applicants, and also save time compared to a paper based system) Or a dedicated form if you manage your own applications.

More than just a Pretty Homepage

Consider different page types, not just the homepage. While the design of your homepage is really important and is often responsible for forming the first impression of your school's online presence. Your homepage is actually a gateway into the rest of your website. Most time spent on your website will actually be on internal pages, reading and viewing content about your school.

For example:
Homepage design has been reviewed. The design of standard content pages, class pages, news pages, event pages, blog pages, and contact pages have also been reviewed. The design chosen has styles for these pages in place. It also includes a number of different elements to enhance and customise individual pages. Our class/subject pages can have a visual in page menu. Our policy pages can display documents in a more interesting way than just basic links to files.

Future Proof Website Design

Firstly ensure your website template is responsive and will work on a variety of different devices. If the design is responsive it should work even on devices that aren't available yet! A future proof website design will serve you and your school well going forward. Of course design trends are always changing. The question to ask is will your school website template choice let you stay on top of the trends, or will you need to revisit this project again in a year or two's time. Consequently a future proof website won't rely on fixed graphic elements, key image driven areas on the page  hopefully it has the flexibility to change the graphics and photographs displayed on the different pages and in the different template areas of your school website.

For example:
The new website design has lots of space to provide our own photographs and other images. We can customise the homepage banners and replace them as and when we need to. We can update our logo when we update it to a more modern high quality graphic in the coming months.

Integrating with Website Software

Does the design tie you into a certain website content management system? (That's not always a bad thing - investigating the right school website software is part of the new website project already.) If the design is specific to a company or platform is the software suitable for your requirements? Does it have the functionality that you need? Is it easy to use? Can you change content through the website content management software easily, especially in those template areas of your design.

Read more about 'How to choose the right school website software' and our answers to why we think we're the best choice for your school.

After Choosing the Template

There's a long list of questions here, but this will ultimately help define the next stage of the process and should provide confidence in the choice made.

  • Will your chosen provider be able to help you with the setup of your new website?
  • Do they do any compliance checks?
  • Can they advise if your website goals fit with the design you've chosen and work with you to refine and achieve them?
  • Do they have experience working with schools and their specific requirements?
  • How much of the design will you be responsible for?
  • Are you given a blank website, a login and left to set up your website alone?
  • Or is the process managed for you? (You just need to provide the detail and everything is set up for you.)

What about design changes?

  • Will it be possible to make updates or changes to your template?
  • While design changes to an existing template will usually cost some money to cover design time. Is this even an option?
  • Is this level of support available?

Depending on the design change(s) it might be better to select a different template. But knowing your school website provider is proficient in bespoke design changes hopefully fills you with confidence that they know what they are doing.

  • Finally what level of support will they provide?
  • If you somehow make a mess of the design will they come and fix it?
  • What about future updates and compatibility going forward?

For example:
The chosen school website template is from a education specific website provider. The chosen template is a tried and trusted design and has worked for schools in the past. The provider will transfer our existing content, customise and setup the design to match our brand. They even provide a statutory compliance check. There is a process in place for additional design changes, including a quote. Furthermore the company provide ongoing support, updates, and lots of relevant and useful additional information. They are even available for bespoke strategy meetings and consultations.

Choosing the Best School Website Template Checklist

  • The key website goal is met through the chosen design.
  • A good selection of consistent, high quality page type designs (The homepage and a variety of other internal page types)
  • Future proof design with lots of space to populate our own content, especially on the homepage.
  • The Design is compatible with a good quality, feature rich, and easy to use CMS.
  • The school website provider is an expert in their field and can provide help and advice. Bespoke changes to the design are possible too (Additional costs may apply to cover additional consulting or design time outside of package)

To conclude, if you hadn't already worked it out, the examples provided above are based on using a Schudio school website design. If you'd like to speak to us about a new website for your school do get in touch.

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