What makes your school different from every other educational institution on the planet? You might offer similar courses, have access to the same professorial talent, and provide similar extracurricular activities. You don’t want to focus on these areas for your school website design because they show how you’re the same as everyone else. It’s your story that sets you apart.
People Respond to Stories
The best school websites evoke an emotional response in visitors, and storytelling offers the perfect vehicle to reach that goal.
You don’t have to look further than the latest bestseller list or film festival to understand the power of story. Narratives drive human emotion and provide resolution to conflict. Human beings have told stories for centuries — first carving them on cave walls and now posting them on naval-gazing blogs. Stories capture the public’s attention because everyone wants to know how a story ends.
A story doesn’t have to take the form of a feature-length film or a published novel. The parts of a story are relatively simple. All you need are characters to populate the story, a place to set your story, a plot to drive the story forward, a theme to draw meaning into the story, and conflict to create tension.
Characters: Use Real People to Create Effective School Website Designs
The characters in your school’s story are your students, your teachers, your administrators, and your alumni. They’re the people who have confronted conflict and achieved success at your university or college.
Use photographs and videos to highlight the people who matter most to your school. Tell their stories in an evocative and compassionate way to engage potential students emotionally.
Setting: Creating a Rich Backdrop For Your Story
Your school website design should reflect the aesthetic of your school itself. This is why it is so important to work with a designer who has experience with higher education marketing. He or she must capture the culture your school embodies to tell its story effectively.
Plot: Giving Your Story Movement and Interest
A great story requires your characters to do something. When planning your university website design, think of ways to highlight movement and action. It could be through an interview with a student who describes his or her experiences at your institution or a video that illustrates students living a day at school.
Theme: Figure Out What Your School Believes and Stands For
An effective university web design makes it clear where the institution stands. It describes the administrators’ and professors’ beliefs and incorporates those facts into the unfolding story. Every page of your website should touch on your school’s believes and aspirations.
Conflict: Creating Tension in Your Story
A great story evokes a sense of urgency. It introduces a problem to solve or an obstacle to overcome. Your school website design can incorporate urgency and tension by communicating stories that involve conflict and resolution.
Why Storytelling Matters in School Website Design
As mentioned above, you want your school to stand out above all the others. You want prospective students to feel an emotional connection to the school and to feel strongly that they belong in your hallowed halls.
Stories are the essence of emotional connection.
Your school’s site design should facilitate storytelling in an evocative way. You might use text, still images, video, illustrations, infographics, or other elements to tell compelling stories, but it all starts with the design.