Why Responsive Design Should Matter To A School Administration

Most educational institutions miss a big opportunity to educate and encourage family and community participation with digital tools. Websites are viewed as a chore to schools, and the value they have as a tool to communicate and save time and money is overlooked by many schools.

Take responsive design. This widely used and accepted design practice in the business world is often overlooked and dismissed by schools. Schools are missing traffic, questions and general communication that has to be handled in person because of the lack of tech they employ on the web. This can take a major toll on the administration, teachers and students.

If you ever find yourself interfacing with a school, working in an administration or helping on a web project, there are some main areas where a little effort will make everyone look like a rockstar.

Think customer. It’s about convenience so make it easy, intuitive, and responsive. Everyone benefits when parents are engaged and you need to make engagement an easy process.

Why responsiveness Didn’t Matter A Few Years Ago To Academia

Up until recently, a majority of traffic hitting school sites was from desktop computers so being responsive, mobile-friendly, wasn’t critical. But more and more parents, especially those in rural areas are browsing on smartphones as their primary Internet service. This means they are now looking at massive school and district websites from a tiny screen.

Because school staff are only looking at their school sites from their desktop, they don’t often see the challenges faced by parents and so they don’t recognize the frustration. Now, ADA compliance is being required for all school websites, so school’s are having to rework much of their UX and web assets, so administrators are already deep into the web tech.

What focus shift needs to happen (and from whom) to make responsiveness a priority

This means new designs and well thought-out planning for how the navigation should remain intuitive in the various layouts, desktop, tablet and on phones. There is no one size/style fits all so selecting a template that isn’t designed with the school’s unique needs in mind can create unintended results.

School needs are different from business needs, so experienced developers are beneficial.

What the change would mean for schools engagement with the community

School choice is a popular topic and something schools need to prepare for. That means being customer focused and making it easy for parents, community members, taxpayers, and others to engage with the school.

Focused communications and marketing strategies are essential to success.

In the future, the local public school won’t be the only option, so if they don’t do a good job of engaging, sharing successes, telling their stories, and building trust, their students will go elsewhere (and there are lots of options). Having fast loading, responsive, intuitive, informative websites is a must.

We’re passionate about this because we are all parents and see first hand what challenges parents and community members face when trying to navigate their school’s websites. We provide consulting and development, communications/PR, and website and social media management to schools throughout the U.S. and have for 14 years.

Bonnie is the founder of School Webmasters and has been helping schools improve their digital presence for over 14 years. She’s managed over 700 schools and loves sharing what she knows about the web.




About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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