How to make an instant impact with your school website homepage

Friday, 22 February 2019 | Written by Jonathan Wallis-Leggett; Digital Marketing Manager at PrimarySite

In brief

  • It is important for any school website to include an impactful homepage that grabs the attention of the user while communicating the values and principles of the school.
  • There is a range of options including full-screen photographs, illustrated photographs, fully illustrated designs and videos.
  • All of these approaches are highly effective in delivering an impactful experience that can communicate a range of messages from creativity and fun to learning and aspiration.

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There are a lot of important elements that go into producing a great school website, from sharing the right information to creating intuitive navigation but getting the initial impression right is possibly the most important part.

As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression and when a visitor first lands on a website there is a window of only a few seconds to capture that person’s attention and to instantly communicate who the school are and what makes them unique.

A school’s values and principles are often summed up in their motto, which can be prominently displayed along with the school’s name on the website homepage, but one of the first things most people notice upon landing is the imagery. A great image can transform a homepage experience and can be a vital tool in providing an engaging user experience.

Here we are going to explore some of the options available when designing a school’s ideal homepage.


Full-screen photos

Many school websites opt for a slide show of high-quality photographs displaying life in and around the school as the centrepiece of their homepage. Not only does this give a modern aesthetic but a professionally produced set of photographs gives an opportunity for schools to highlight and bring attention to different elements of the school’s curriculum, values and personality. For an example of this take a look at the Old Basford School homepage.

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What many love about this approach is how naturally it can achieve all this, it can truly capture a day in the life of a school and is a great way to show the children engaging with lessons and having fun. Photography is versatile too, and should a school want a look that is more deliberate and arranged to reflect their image rather than natural and in the moment, this can also be achieved with a great amount of success.

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Full-screen photo with illustration

A well-taken photograph can tell a story quicker than a piece of writing, and this option is a great way to take that idea to the next level, truly bringing a photo and its story to life. A still image does not do justice to the final animated effect of illustrating photographs, taking a look at Ascot Road Community Free Schools homepage provides a fantastic representation of what can be achieved.

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If a school is looking to stand out and show how it is different, this is a great way to achieve that. Not only is the overall effect of illustrated design striking and attention-grabbing, but it gives a school a chance to show its creativity, which can work in so many different ways, for example, to convey a sense of expression and fun, or aspiration and distinction. Another great example of this style coming to life is the homepage for St Mary’s Bentworth Church of England Primary School.

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Illustration

Another way to make an impact with illustration is to have an entirely illustrated homepage. Often featuring the school buildings or location in the artwork, this is a great way for a school to have a truly unique and personal design that reflects who they are and feels instantly relatable with the school.

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The illustrated style also communicates a great sense of personality, enjoyment and fun and when it comes to an instant impact, website visitors can get drawn into spotting all the different details shown in the illustration. One other thing that a completely illustrated design allows is animation, which further draws attention and brings a homepage to life, an example of this is the Northdown Primary School website.

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Video

A full-screen video running in the background of a homepage can create a striking impact that immediately brings a website to life, it is a great way to give a sense of experiencing the school in action and can feel like a natural, personal welcome to a homepage. A great example of a video doing this is the Barons Court Primary School and Nursery website.

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A video can demonstrate a wide range of things a school has to offer; it’s a great way to show the children interacting and engaging with lessons or having fun at break time but also a great chance to show the school itself. A great example of this is the Barnby Road Academy website which shows multiple locations and facilities while also including a lot of interaction with the children.

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In summary

There are four very different approaches shown here, and there is no right answer for which one a school should take as each is highly effective at having an instant impact with visitors. Each of the four methods can communicate a range of messages, be it centered on learning, fun, creativity, aspiration or something else, and each gives a school a chance to create a look and feel that is unique and personal to them.

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