Aside from the home page, the first page in the admissions section is the most important page of private school websites. Why? It’s where the application process for prospective families begins—inquire, visit, apply—a journey they’re likely considering with several schools. To ensure they continue with your school, the admission landing page must be memorable and effective. Making the page stand out from the crowd is a matter of addressing the following questions.
1. Who is the audience?
One of the most powerful ways to catch the attention of visitors is through visual representation. Visuals absorb the user into the school’s story by providing a window to imagine what their experience at the school will be like. A well-developed video with dramatic shots highlighting the school’s programs, or a slideshow of professional-quality images will give visitors a sense of the school’s atmosphere.
For visuals to fully hit their mark it’s critical to consider audience demographics. A pre-teen interested in arts isn’t going to connect with an athletics image and vice versa. Make sure the visuals on the admissions landing page encapsulate the student body’s age, gender, and ethnic diversity, as well as their top interests. Remember, you want visitors to see themselves (or their children) on the page—and at your school.
Equally important is knowing the other schools that your audience is interested in and the experience they are getting on those schools’ admissions landing pages. Carefully review those pages to understand how your school can present a better experience. If a top competitor is displaying a soccer image, and your school also has a soccer photo, that image isn’t differentiating your school.
2. Why should they apply?
After you’ve gotten the attention of admissions visitors with compelling visuals, it’s time to reel them in by explaining why they should apply to your school. You don’t want to overwhelm them with text—they’re still in the getting-to-know-you phase—so you’ll want to keep the text to approximately 300 words by making every sentence count.
Again, what makes your school unique? What will students only gain from your school? What important aspect wasn’t communicated in the visuals? Sometimes this is simply a matter of digging deeper. A one-to-one laptop or tablet program is no longer special, but if those devices are being used to teach programming—now you’ve got something.
The persuasive messaging doesn’t all have to live in the body copy. Marrying text with visuals such as image gallery captions, clickable content cards, or facts-and-stats icons is an effective strategy for making key points of the school’s messaging stand out. If someone is skimming the page, it’s more likely that they’re going to read and retain a brief statement that’s connected to a photo or icon than messaging within the body copy.
3. What should they do next?
Create a sense of direction and make it easy for admissions visitors to learn more about your school with strong calls to action (CTAs). Let’s once again think about the demographics of the page and divide users into two categories: new and repeat visitors. The repeat visitors have come back for a reason, they’re looking to learn more, so we want to draw them into the admissions funnel with CTAs to “Inquire,” “Visit,” and “Apply.” These can display as secondary navigation or buttons on the page, but also include invitations in the copy such as “Attend an open house to experience our beautiful campus first-hand.”
First-time visitors likely aren’t going to complete an inquiry form or sign up for an open house— not yet, anyway. To nurture them to this point, you’ll want to have CTAs inviting them to learn more about the school. This is where the strategy of matching carefully-selected photos with key messaging can help. A content card showcasing robotics could link to the STEM page, a stage performance callout to the drama page, and a lacrosse shot to athletics.
By addressing the questions of who, why, and what’s next, your school’s admission landing page will be distinct, have a purpose, and drive action.
Want to evaluate the rest of your school’s website content? Read our tip sheet, How to Conduct a Website Content Audit Using Analytics.
About the AuthorMore Content by Rachael Eaton