Your website is a part of your brand in the same way as your prospectus and your uniforms, so it should be professional and convey the character of your school. We have put together a series of articles to help you leave a lasting impression, including tips to produce quality content, how to structure your website content, and some common mistakes to avoid.
Only include content that is relevant for your audience.
When people come to a website, they are usually looking for particular information, rather than stopping to read every word. Unless you are presenting article content, such as for an online magazine, newspaper or blog, you should assume your readers are running their eyes across the page, scanning for key words, headings and links to relevant information. It is your role to help readers find what they are looking for as quickly and easily as possible. Structure your information logically, be succinct, and use visual cues that make sense to your readers.
Tips to produce quality content
One way to make a lasting impression is to include only content that is relevant for your audience. Before you start, consider:
- Why am I writing this?
- What is my main message?
- Who am I talking to?
- How do I want them to respond?
If you can’t answer these questions concretely about your words, images, or links to files, then consider whether you need to post the content.
Your content should be well written, clearly signposted, and presented in easy-to-digest chunks.
Find your ‘voice’
When you write content for your site, be mindful of the messages you want to convey and the way readers approach those messages. Consider your audience and your tone. What are your school’s values and strengths? Choose words and images that reflect your school’s ‘voice’ and speak to your audience.
Get to the point
The average visitor will read less than 30% of the content on a page. Draw their attention to the words you want them to read. Your content should be well written, clearly signposted, and presented in easy-to-digest chunks. Readers should be able scan your page for important keywords and headings.
You are helping people find information quickly and easily.
Make sure you:
- Say it in as few words as possible – keep your sentences short and to the point
- Limit paragraphs to one idea
- Put the most important information at the top
- Highlight keywords using headings or bold tags for emphasis
- Use bullet points rather than paragraphs
- Divide information under meaningful sub-headings which can be tested by your users
- Use images to expand on your text.
You are not writing to impress your audience with your vocabulary and sophistication. You are helping people find information quickly and easily.
Follow these simple rules to get your message across clearly and concisely:
- Never use a long word where a short one will do
- If a word can be cut out, cut it out
- Use the active voice
- Avoid foreign phrases, scientific words and jargon
- Avoid acronyms—always spell things out
- Be personal—write like you talk
- Use action words
- Proofread your pages
Consistency within each page and across your site is important. Use the same style, punctuation and spelling on each page. Use the same sized images, headings and formatting. Your audience may not notice individual differences or visual discrepancies, but consistency across your pages will convey an impression of professionalism.
Your content should be web-specific and reflect the way users interact with your site.
A Style Guide is a particularly useful website reference as your content may have multiple authors over time. Establish your Style Guide to document preferred spelling, punctuation and other elements of style. Record the size and dimensions of images, headings and guidelines for optional formatting. Any time you have to make a choice about how to present information, note your decision in the Style Guide for future reference, for example, whether a percentage should be presented as ‘percent’ or ‘per cent’ or ‘%’.
Don’t just copy the print marketing
Your content should be web-specific and reflect the way users interact with your site. Make use of links within your copy to help your readers navigate. Links stand out from the rest of your text, so don’t write ‘click here’. Use words that provide cues to the reader about your content.
Images convey a great deal of information and are an important marketing tool. Post up-to-date photos of your teachers to help parents when they visit the school. Use quality pictures of events to create a vibrant impression of what your school has to offer.
Little things can make a big difference to how your audience experiences your website and therefore your school. Quality content will engage your audience and leave a lasting impression.