Building a website for a specific industry sector requires careful consideration and creative insight into the demands and conditions that are inherent to that particular industry. This might seem simple enough, but it’s a notion that is all too easily overlooked. There are international web standards that all sites should adhere to, and then there are industry specific standards, which need to be researched and considered in the early stages, before the creative process begins. Let’s take education as an example. It is a sector that requires a careful analysis of its key audiences – in many cases both students and their parents, or people who are looking for concise, easy to access information are visiting the site. Things like this need to be scrutinised and carefully considered in order to create the most comprehensive, accessible and attractive resource possible which ensures retention and more importantly conversion.
Creating a website for an education institution requires careful consideration of their key demographics and how this will affect the look, feel and content of what you create. Here are some key points to be considered when building an education website.
Approach to Information
First comes the web tree which is part of our briefing process. This is essentially a blueprint of how the site and it’s content will be structured and how it will be navigated by the user. Our approach has always been to consult directly with subject matter expects to develop the web tree, as this forms the backbone for the content of the site. Once the structure of the site is determined, before we even begin the design stage, we develop mood boards for the client using examples of industry leading websites and other relevant sites. The feedback we receive from these is extremely important in learning exactly what is required and expected from the site.
Content is the lifeblood of a website. Without carefully mediated content, the audience will lose interest immediately; and if information is hard to access or difficult to understand, it will actively drive traffic away. An education website needs to be comprehensive in the information that it divulges, without being overwhelming. It should be treated first and foremost as a resource, rather than just a landing page that details where further information can be found. That being said, education websites also need to be strategically organised. This will be determined by your audience.
For example, a website for a high school may focus on their diverse faculty, extra-curricular programs, news about the school and their achievements, and information on enrolment. A site like this needs to balance design and information, focusing on creating a resource that acts as both an advertisement for the school, targeted at their appropriate demographic, and a source of information.
A university on the other hand may be less focused on striking aesthetics and more on extensive information, demonstrating exactly what the college has to offer. This will also require careful design consideration, however, this time taking into account the requirements of each prospective student: what faculty they are looking for, what grade of education they are inquiring about (undergraduate, postgrad, masters etc), what a course has to offer. Design that promotes easy navigation is paramount for a site like this.
Overall, information needs to be accessed easily – if it is not, it may be very easy for prospective enrolments to opt for somewhere else.
Only once all market research and industry analysis has been completed, the web tree has been finalised, and feedback has been received from the moodboards, do we then move on to the design stage. Being armed with a wealth of industry knowledge and having an in-depth understanding of the specific site requirements is imperative to making the most intelligent and informed creative decisions. A functional web site design is a genuine marriage of art and science.
We believe it’s essential to have at least two creatives working independently on the initial website concepts, as we’re able to present different creative solutions to the same problems, and often new solutions can present themselves as a result. The concept stage usually involves designing just a few pages and key elements in order to establish an overall look and feel for the site, including the UI and UX design. Once a concept has been chosen, we can then move on to the full website build.
Realising a vision from the start is an important step towards creating the most effective site. Again, here is it important to understand and focus on a target audience – it will be the biggest influence on the look and feel of what you create.
Your website’s colour scheme, fonts, logos, media and layout should be informed by your target market. These will directly reflect your institution and market positioning while also acting as an aesthetic drawcard to prospective students. If your institution already has an established brand, then your website will be an extension of this: the digital component of the personality that your organisation has taken on.
For example, for an institution for international high school students to come to Australian to learn should be both professional and youthful. It should be a resource for parents as much as students, offering information in an appealing aesthetic package. It shouldn’t seem overly complicated, so as not to confuse students or parents. A darker, more clean cut colour scheme might be adopted, reinforcing the expertise of the institution; but this may be offset by ligher fonts and engaging imagery to appeal to a young audience.
This may differ for a private tertiary college, perhaps one that offers digital media or design diplomas. Here it would be most prudent to have a slick, multimedia-heavy website, boasting precisely the skills that college teach while simultaneously giving information about the college itself.
Media is not only important for a learning institution it’s important across the board for educational facilities. Media such as photos, videos, or examples of work students have done can highlight and promote what one can expect from the institution in a very transparent way. Photos and videos are the best way of showing parents or students the grounds, facilities, resources, technology or equipment of a school or college – a very important factor to consider.
Creating an allure of prestige, status, wholesomeness or integrity can also be important. Along with comprehensive information, people want to feel like there is something to be a part of. Interactive media like photos and videos are often the best form of advertising – they create a connection. This can be put down to what is called psychographics; that is, creating an alignment between the lifestyle interests of students/parents and the institution through visual mediums.
Building a website for an educational facility may be daunting, but when you take a moment to research your market and think about your audience needs, things can become much more simple. Breaking elements down and considering them one by one is very important, otherwise the process may become overly confusing and the original essence of the project may get lost.
We approach every website we build with the same holistic approach (much like our approach to digital marketing): methodical research, working closely with the client, and an enthusiastic and engaged creative development process