Recently we had a client hire us to create a website for a new career and technical education school.
Usually with school sites the job is revising a website that is already there – deciding what content to add, what to delete, and what to revise, while also creating a new design and upgrading navigation and functionality as needed.
But this time, we were starting from scratch with a clean slate.
However, our approach to the project was the same as when we were working on an existing site – and that approach begins with these three questions.
1. What do you want this website to accomplish?
The primary goal of any website is to motivate a visitor to take a specific action – buy a product, make an appointment, etc. In this case, with a brand new school, the objective was to persuade potential students and their families to enroll, or to request more information.
We tried to initiate that action by explaining the types of courses available in the curriculum, what types of students would thrive there, and the projected volume of well-paying employment opportunities that may await them. We made sure these messages were prominently displayed on every page of the website.
2. Why will someone want to come here?
Most school and school district sites indulge in some praise of their facilities and their faculty, but they don’t have to recruit a student body. Any children in their district at their grade levels will attend the school closest to them whether they want to or not.
But our client had no such regional advantages or restrictions. And being a new school, there was no track record of achievement to promote. So we suggested a stronger emphasis on the benefits of studying toward a career in the academic areas stressed within their curriculum. As previously stated, we stressed that these courses of study prepared students for good jobs in growth industries. We specified the type of training they would receive and the wide array of positions for which they would be prepared.
If this school could give a young person a head start toward a secure future by working in a rapidly growing industry, it stands a much better chance of success.
3. What is the best way to communicate this message?
All websites are comprised primarily of written content within a designed format. But from that framework can emerge a myriad of possibilities. Given our goals, what features should be included? Banners at the top of the home page? A blog? Videos?
At this stage, for this client, we decided to keep it simple at the start, test the effectiveness of our message by gauging webstats and enrollment numbers, and then adding other components and measuring their impact. Once we started analyzing site usage, we could adjust our strategy based on that feedback.
The results? So far, so good. And while brand new websites don’t often come along in the public sector realm, we believe these same three questions also comprise the basis of an effective strategy when it’s time to revise an existing site.
ADA compliance is another vital component of any public sector site. Find out more about this critical issue by downloading a free copy of our white paper. And if you believe your site may need to be reassessed for compliance, contact us.