There's great news! When it comes to web design in 2017, it's all about our customers! This year, web design trends for school websites should be all about the customer user journey. Proper design, where form follows function will upstage the temptation to show off. In this article, we discuss school website trends for 2017.
An Increase In Storytelling
'After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.' – Phillip Pullman. When we talk about the idea of telling your school's story, we're talking about offering compelling stories that offer us real life examples of the experience your school provides.
Tell stories that shed light on how children are conquering challenges, whether it's building confidence or winning national sporting competitions, tell stories that give examples of how your school is transforming lives!
Top Trends in Digital Storytelling:
- Stories are really helping schools to educate visitors about their unique positioning
- We are seeing more creative wordplay and advertising-style campaign concepts
- This helps to provide more structure to key messages with an emotional kick
- More distinctive one-off content pages to encourage exploration beyond the homepage and strengthen the impact of specific key messages e.g. history timelines, day in the life stories, video walls, community profiles
Creative Use Of Video
In 1921 Fred R. Barnard wanted to capture the impact of an advertisement featured on the side of a bus and said 'One look is worth a thousand words'. And with that the statement 'a picture is worth a thousand words entered the general lexicon.' The modern day equivalent of Bernard's statement is 'A minute of video is worth 1.8 million words,' and comes from a Forrester Research report by Dr. James McQuivey titled 'How Video Will Take Over The world.'
Top Trends in Video:
- Increased use of video banners to make a more powerful impact
- Stronger use of video across other areas of design e.g. as interactive hover states in order to create more immersion beyond the hero banner
- Short video clips on interior pages to reduce the need for text
- Example: Oasis Community Learning
More Authentic Insights And Content
For some schools, the warmth and care of the staff, and happiness of the pupils inside the school is juxtaposed with intimidating buildings, large grounds, and top security! Your school website is the perfect place to offer a window into the soul of your school, especially when social media is integrated. At its core, business is human and as consumers, prospective parents want to do business with those that share similar values. We want to work with organisations that are truthful, genuine and dependable. It boils down to authenticity.
Top Trends in Content:
- More candid style photography that feels genuine and people-centred
- More engaging news and social media offering a better insight into current events
- Increase in staff and pupil profiles with more expressive biographical information
- Example: Shrewsbury International School, Bangkok
Bolder, More Exotic Feature Layouts
'There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.' - Milton Glaser. Schools are looking for more creative ways to express themselves and create a stronger sense of personality.
Top Trends in Design:
- Cookie cutter flat design websites have over-saturated the web and we'll see more distinctive layouts as a result, closer to what we see in print media
- More creative use of typeface and vector graphics that add character, but not file size
- Subtle animations and technical effects to further enhance the brand's personality and make sites more immersive without compromising the user experience
- Simple features that allow room for more creative expression e.g. full-screen menus
- Example: Northwood School (check out use of photo backgrounds)
Increase In Mobile First Design Patterns
'People interact with their phones very differently than they do with their PCs, and I think that when you design from the ground up with mobile in mind, you create a very different product than going the other way.' - Kevin Systrom, Instagram. Ofcom recently reported that two-thirds of people in the UK now own a smartphone, using it for at least two hours every day to browse the internet and scroll through social media. 33% of internet users see their smartphone as the most important device for going online, and we spend twice as long online with our smartphones than laptops or personal computers.
Top Trends in Mobile:
- As mobile conventions like hamburger menus become more common, school audiences will feel more comfortable with them, so they will show up more often
- The design process will look at mobile designs first, to reflect the fact that the majority of first-time visitors will be on a mobile or tablet device
- Website performance and accessibility will become increasingly important
- Example: Dulwich Prep London
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olivia works with schools worldwide to develop and implement social media strategies. She began her career in television and has worked with production companies including the BBC, Disney and Southern Star Australia. Transferring her skills to the corporate world, she has worked as a leadership skills coach and trained teams from blue chip companies including Coca Cola, AMP and IBM. Prior to her current role as Social Media Specialist at FinalsiteUK, Olivia was Deputy Editor for Families Magazine. Holding a Bachelor of Dramatic Art and a Diploma of Digital Marketing (CIM), her blend of experience gives her a unique understanding of audiences, branding, and storytelling. Olivia has 14+ years of experience working in corporate coaching, publishing and digital marketing.