You’ve selected your website provider, have organized and mapped out your content, now it’s time for design. So do you hire a pricey website designer to fashion a custom one, or will you be forced to pick from a short list of dusty, boilerplate templates your web provider offers?
You now have a third option: the School Website Design Center, an new online resource from Campus Suite that enables school communicators to choose from dozens of website designs and participate in creating just the look they like.
The design center allows a school to select from a premium design library, then through a series of easy steps, select the options they want to create, in effect, a custom design to make it uniquely theirs.
Taking part in the website design process
Many schools are looking to improve the appeal of their websites for reasons of enrollment, parent and community engagement, and overall improved communications, so there is pressure on those who manage school websites to create attractive sites that project school excellence.
“We wanted to give schools more options when it comes to this very important aspect of building a new website,” said Steve Williams, Campus Suite co-founder and VP of operations.
“We’ve learned that the design phase of building a website tends to excite customers, so we created a vehicle for school communicators to participate in a big way in examining options and trying some on for size,” said Williams.
Test drive your design choices
The Website Design Center features live click-throughs that enable anyone to see and experience how pages other than the homepage will appear. Secondary pages and their menus, layouts, and widgets can be viewed live and in action. Visitors can browse the dozens of designs, select view, then click through to get a real-time accurate feel for the design at work.
“Homepage design is just the tip of the design iceberg,” said Williams. “The design center allows school communicators to drill down into how other key pages on their website will appear. The beauty lies in the flexibility they then have to modify layouts and navigation – should they want to do that.”
Helping define school brands
The design themes enable schools to create consistency for branding at the district and building (school) levels by locking in primary, secondary, tertiary and accent color scheme for all websites operating in a school system. This feature supports school/district branding style guidelines, as only approved colors and fonts are made available to approved content editors.
Campus Suite’s E-Z-Editor™ enables countless additional design flexibility, allowing site editors to adjust layouts and navigation. Page previews are afforded to let editors see how pages look – on mobile and desktop views – before they go live.
In addition, design options include more than 50 widgets that can be embedded on web pages to add interactivity and functionality to the website.
Making great design accessible
The last thing school administrators want to learn is that their new website does not pass muster under ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) laws.
Another benefit to starting in the School Website Design center is that every design is built to be ADA compliant and fully accessible. There’s no risk that a design originating in the design center will present barriers to access for people with disabilities.
“We take an ‘accessibility-first’ approach to creating our designs,” said Williams. “Whatever Campus Suite design you choose, you can be assured it will meet the latest website accessibility standards.” Any updates to standards are automatically pushed to the new designs, so schools stay on the right side of the law.
Every design follows WCAG 2.1 standards, federal guidelines for ADA compliance and accessibility. (For more on creating and maintaining accessibility on your school website, check out the School Website Education Center.)
Because design is important to you
Whether they’re districts looking to be more competitive in an open enrollment environment, or private schools trying to boost enrollment, schools are leaning harder on their websites, and expecting more from them with great website design.
What’s more, the savvy school communicator is playing a larger role in shaping the distinctive style, culture and brand a school can convey through its website.
The new Campus Suite Website Design Center is helping school administrators shape, change, or in some cases, create a school brand with all the design choices to create engaging websites.
Marketing director and content strategist for Campus Suite, Jay’s a former school public relations specialist who’s helped businesses, schools and colleges use the power of web communications to improve their image, generate support, and optimize relationships. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @jay4schools.