It’s time to think about creating an online home for your business!
Why do you need a website for your business? A website can serve a variety of critical purposes for your school or education service.
- If you aren’t online, do you exist? General consumer data says that 76% of consumers look up a business’ online presence first. Your primary audience (parents) fall in the age group that makes up more than half of online activity. Parents are online. You should be too!
- Identity. A website is a first impression. Your identity is expressed in your brand – the logo, colors, images and words you choose to describe what you do. Your website is a canvas for showcasing that brand! Are you serious about offering tough academics for high-achieving students? Do you bring an off-beat twist to history curriculum? Your website can tell that story from the moment a parent visits
- Sales. Your website is your opportunity to sell parents on the vision for your school or the quality of your education service. You can bolster your own words with testimonials from parents and students. If you’re selling a tangible product (i.e., curriculum), your site can have an ecommerce function for direct purchases.
- Nuts and bolts. This is the ideal place to host important information like costs, classes, product details, application forms, and more. You can also include information for parents on how to use their ESA to purchase tuition or your education service. Feel free to link to our Love Your School website about ESAs, too!
- Advertising. Your website will give you a place to point your online (Facebook, Google, etc.) ads, should you choose to run them now or in the future.
Your website is a canvas for showcasing that brand! Are you serious about offering tough academics for high-achieving students? Do you bring an off-beat twist to history curriculum? Your website can tell that story from the moment a parent visits.
Are you convinced? We hope so!
If you’re thinking, “yes, I know I need a website, but I’m not tech savvy and I have no budget for a web developer.” Well, good news! You don’t need much tech savvy or money to build a basic website. There are dozens of drag-and-drop, easy to use website builders – and most will give you a free trial to try them out before you pay a dime! Here are just a few…
- Squarespace. Pro: Cutting edge templates, easy drag-and-drop. Con: Not a lot of flexibility to customize within the template, unless you know coding. Cost: Starting at $16/mo.
- Wix. Pro: Flexible templates, free domain for one year. Con: Less structured. Cost: Starting at $16/mo
- Weebly. Pro: Has a free option. Cost: Free option; Paid plans start at $10/mo.
- Shopify. Pro: Ideal for selling products. Cost: Start at $39/mo., includes inventory, shipping management, and payment processing.
- And there’s more…! See a full breakdown of website builders here.
Whether you’re building it yourself or hiring a web developer, here’s what you should consider including:
- A splashy – and functional – home page! Your home page should start with a short and bold headline that tells how you will benefit students and families. “Securing your child’s education future,” or “A Classical School for K-6,” “Discover the Joy of Riding,” or “History in Stories.” If you’re launching a school make sure to say what grades you’re teaching and the curriculum you’re using! Then, it should immediately direct parents to an action step (“buy now,” “book now,” “apply now,” or “learn more.)” You can highlight your main pages, feature parent testimonials, and include a “sign up” form for a parent to be added to your email list. Your footer should have primary contact information, social media links, and address if applicable. Make sure you include the basic info about your school on the home page so it is super easy to find. That should include the type of school you are (if applicable), what grades you serve, what curriculum you use, and your address if you’re a school or providing an in-person service.
- About Page. This is where you tell your story! If your education service is a school, this might include your history, your vision, and your mission statement. If you are selling curriculum, a tutoring service, or horseback riding lessons, you might give your personal biography and explain some of your core values.
- Pricing. Whether it’s tuition by grade, the cost of your curriculum, or your hourly rate, this will be important information to include, especially for ESA parents. Don’t make pricing too hard to find.
- FAQ. This is where you answer the questions you get allll the time. Not sure where to start? Start by thinking through the steps a parent would go through to attend your school or hire you. Imagine the questions they might have in that process (“when do classes start?” “What are the school day hours?” “When is payment due?” “What if I pay for a session with you and don’t use it?” “Can I see a sample?”). Jot those down. That’s your starting FAQ. Next, keep a list of the questions you get from parents via email or over the phone or in person. If you find yourself answering the same question more than once, include it in your FAQ! You can also include questions you wish someone would ask!
- Contact Page. This is a must! Include an email (email@example.com) and a contact form.
- To blog, or not to blog. Blogs are great for SEO (search engine optimization – i.e., how high your business will appear on a Google search page). The content lives forever on the internet and can ensure you rise in Google’s rankings over time. Blogs are also time consuming to maintain. Consider if regular content makes sense for your education service. Will it enhance your business, sales, or customer experience? Examples of blog content could be articles on educational topics or fun posts with photos of events or students enjoying your education service. Your blog posts can also double as email content served up to your subscribers on a regular basis. On the other hand, if it’s not a good fit or won’t really serve your goals, better not to bog yourself down with a blog.
Now, where should you start?
- Assess your budget! A drag-and-drop website will likely cost you between $0 and $30/mo with no other upfront costs. A professional web developer will charge anywhere between $2,000 and $15,000. If you have the budget for a web developer, go for it! It will save you lots of time and potential headaches and they can build your site with all kinds of design features, analytics, and other cool stuff you won’t be able to do on your own. But if cost is the biggest factor right now, don’t sweat it! A drag and drop will do just fine for an initial launch.
- Decide what your website needs to accomplish. Whether you’re building it yourself or working with a developer, you’ll need this step. How do you need parents to use your site? Just as a source of information? Do you need parents to be able to apply or book sessions from your site? Does it need an e-commerce feature so they can buy curriculum or educational materials? Zero in on the primary action step you want them to take and make sure the whole site directs them there.
- Decide on your pages. Talk it through with your web developer or make your own list. Use the guide above as a starting point and then add on from there based on your needs.
- Write your content. Open a Word or Google Doc, create a page in the document for each web page, and jot down the headlines, copy (words!), forms, and action buttons you think should appear. If you are working with a marketing company, they will help you with this!
- Choose images. Real images of students at your school or using your education service are best! But if you’re brand new, you probably don’t have those yet. So find authentic stock photos on a paid site like iStock or Adobe Stock or on a free site like Pexels or Unsplash. Also, if you are the face of your education service, invest in a good professional headshot!
- Go time! Now it’s time to pass this all off to your web developer – or get to work with your drag-and-drop web builder. Have fun watching your business come to life online!
A quick word on domains… You’ll need one for your website. Search available domains and their cost at GoDaddy.com or Domain.com. When you find the one you want, buy it up before someone else does! If you have a web developer, they’ll take it from there. If you’re using a drag-and-drop builder, they will have an easy step-by-step guide to connecting your domain to your live site.