Home Page Suggestions

School Websites have a lot of information to manage and present in a way that is useful to parents, students, administration, alumni and the public in general. The content on your home page should be the gateway to that information.
This article gives some good examples and tips on what type of content to put on the home page and how to plan and arange the content.

Photos

Tell the story of your school or latest events, community involvement or other issues affecting the school. By now everyone with a phone has a basic camera, even if it's not the greatest quality a good photo will draw users in much more then a bunch of text.

Events

Put excerpts of upcoming events on the home page. Entice the user to participate or at least read more by adding a small photo or illustration.

Welcome to . . .

Please forgive the bluntness of my thoughts here but the statement on any Website that says "Welcome to our Website" or something similiar has done nothing for me as the end user. Happy talk like that has no value to end users. Instead try something like "The Home of the Bob Cats" or "Serving the Community of East Sandy for 50 years" or "Commited to Excellence in Education".

A Work of Art

Your Webiste might not hang in an art gallery but the creative work that your kids are making could be a fun and interesting to "hang" on the home page. This might not be for you but, the way this school used a students art caught my attention; http://schools.penncrest.org/cses/
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Overall Website Tips

Users Scan

Users don't read every word on a page, they instead scan to find what they are looking for. User look quickly from photos, to sections headings to buttons and navigation. Most users are looking to accomplish a task and we as webmasters need to help them accomplish their goal(s). One of the greatest tools in helping users complete tasks quicker is to use section heading tags (these can be easily added, under the format dropdown is a quick list). The page titles use H1, I suggest cascading down from there. For example I am using H2 in the headings for each of these sesctions. A sub section then uses H3 and so on.

Keep Contrast High

This means if you are going to put blue text on top of a blue background, the text needs to be a very, very light blue. Another example is too avoid very bright colors too often or next to each other, i'm sure the local Art teacher can help tremendesly in the design aspect. Call attention only to one, two at most items per page.

Keep the Content Fresh and Updated

Check for broken links at least monthly. There is a great tool in K2 that allows you to have "featured articles" that can be set up with a module to autofill and then when an article gets old you can take it off the featured list.

Don't Get Stuck in the Template

What I mean by this is that the template that we used for each of the school sites was more or less a cookie cutter, we left branding for the end, in the hopes that the schools would inject some personality. Colors, layout, arrangement can be altered. If your not sure how to do something or what the limits are just give us a holler, we're happy to help.

Examples of Good School Web Sites

Higher Education

http://www.elon.edu/home/
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Elon University has an engaging carousel that tells the user something about the school. Notice the events have a link to "all news", they don't try to cram it all down in one column, two leading events and 3 snipets. The intro video is nice, especially since most people would rather watch a video then read a two page article about the school, the option to scroll to watch another video is a good idea as well.

http://www.ursuline.edu/
ursulineUrsuline College has a nice clean site. I like the idea of the collage, and the arrangement of NEWS, EVENTS, and COMMUNITY are very easy to scan and small enough to digest easily. http://www.ua.edu/
 
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The UA Webiste is clean, uses great images and divides categories well. The Quick links at the bottom of the page are a nice user feature. http://www.bisd.us/
 
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I love the background on the Brownsville site. How fun and easy would that be? Grab a camerea and snap a few pics, perhaps an assembly or sports event.