6 Ways to Improve the Parent Experience on Your School Website

February 2 2024

Guest article written by Jacob Shultz, founder of Bolsta Digital

In the quest to find the perfect school, parents are tasked with navigating a sea of school websites, each adorned with lofty visions of a bright and caring future.

As a school marketing consultant, I am particularly interested in how school’s approach their website and the ways in which they seek to enhance the experience of a prospective parent.

A school’s tagline or mission statement often serves as the initial point of contact for parents, and most schools consider this a pivotal aspect of their marketing and messaging efforts. Like the heading of a brochure, it provides parents context and aids them in making a decision about a school that resonates with their own values and aspirations.

So, given the perceived importance of this statement, I conducted some research on 20 independent schools in a catchment area about 40km in radius, in a regional area of NSW. I wanted to see how unique these statements were between schools, along with a few a other markers of a good ‘digital experience’.

I found that the vast majority (90%) of schools had a line in their website header about being prepared for life or about providing a caring and/or Christian environment.

That’s a huge proportion of competing schools sharing a very similar message.

Here’s some of the statements I found:

  • Leaders in Whole of Life Education
  • Equipped for life
  • Building better futures
  • Committed to prepare every child to meet the challenges of a changing world with courage and confidence
  • Ready for life
  • We believe in a holistic approach to education
  • A holistic approach to education
  • Well taught, well known, well loved
It’s clear that when parents first engage with your school, they are likely presented with an aspirational statement that bears a striking resemblance to that of the school they just finished browsing.

So whilst schools invest considerable time into developing these statements, they probably aren’t having the effect one might hope. So what does?

I talk a lot about “Parent Experience”. In marketing, this is often called brand or customer experience. In other words: The holistic impression formed by individuals as they engage with a brand across all touchpoints, encompassing interactions with products, services, marketing materials, physical environments, digital platforms, and customer service.

Re-framing your website as a brand touchpoint, rather than a brochure or guide, is a great start to building better digital experiences. A parent’s experience on your website will go a long way to shaping their overall impression of your school, particularly in the early research phase.

In 2024, parents are more reliant on and expectant of engaging digital experiences than ever before. As a school marketer, it’s important to be always pushing your thinking on this topic – how to improve the parent experience.

I’ve put together six ways to improve the parent experience on your website.

1. Clear calls-to-action

Only 55% of the schools I analysed had a clear call to action in their navigation or header that told a parent what is the next step they should take. This is something that should be actioned immediately if you’re in the 45%. A simple button in your header that links to your tour booking page or enrolment enquiry form is a perfect start.

2. Tell compelling stories

Storytelling is a powerful way of communicating the essence of your school’s vision and mission. By sharing real stories from your community that reflect your values and aspirations, you help to paint a vivid picture of what “Equipped for life” or “A holistic approach to education” really means. Highlight student achievements, alumni success stories, and impactful community initiatives.

The faces of your school—students, teachers, administrators—serve as powerful ambassadors. Incorporate their voices into your content creation to bring human connection into your contact with prospective families. A short video of your Principal will go a long way to bringing your tagline, vision and mission to life, but think creatively as well: Imagine video newsletters, day-in-the-life updates or short vlog series.

3. Online enrolments

Online enrolments are becoming increasingly common amongst independent schools. Of those that I analysed, 35% had an online application form. Everyone is familiar with the feeling of paperwork-overwhelm; that’s why so many of the services we use day-to-day have transitioned to fully online application models.

One of the best solutions for online enrolment forms is from Digistorm. They have a fantastic platform for forms that can integrate directly with their Funnel CRM. Online enrolments can require some administrative change, but the investment will pay dividends with the decrease in paperwork for your admin team and ease of use for your parents.

4. Make it interactive

Interactive elements, such as fee calculators, are a great way to turn a moment of stress into a moment of ease for a prospective parent. Fee calculators, like Feesable, integrate directly into your website and provide an easy way for parents to visualise their fees before they enrol.

Transparency is an increasingly important factor as people put their trust in organisations. 40% of the schools I analysed have already taken advantage of an online fee calculator; this is undoubtedly increasing the expectation of schools to make this information easily available. Making the fee calculation process easy, upfront and presented clearly is a great way of cutting through the crowd and provided a positive parent experience.

5. Utilise email journeys

Email journeys have long been a go-to strategy for digital marketers, but they are yet to be utilised well by small independent schools. Of the 20 schools I analysed, not one of them made a clear offer to sign up to a mailing list to receive updates or educational content.

Given the long lead time for enrolments, automated email journeys are a perfect medium for nurturing leads and connecting with parents throughout the enrolment process. The beauty of email is that it can be automated – meaning that you can be communicating almost constantly with prospective parents without using precious admin time.

Utilise platforms such as Digistorm Funnel, Ortto or Mailchimp to help with email creation and delivery, and consider opportunities such as:


  • A school tour follow up journey, sharing content from key staff members, stories from students, and finally an invitation to apply
  • An educational content journey sharing wisdom from educational leaders, child psychologists and parenting experts.
6. AI Web Assistants

AI is taking the digital world by storm. The rise of AI presents numerous exciting opportunities for schools to provide better digital experiences, without increasing admin load. AI web assistants are a category of software that provide a way of interacting with an AI persona, fed with knowledge of your school processes, systems, values etc.

Imagine utilising an AI Web Assistant to answer common questions about your school, such as “what is the uniform”, or “how do I order from the canteen”, or “is there a bus route to [my suburb]”. This is all possible with AI, using platforms like Ortto, Intercom or Sendbird.

Understanding and improving the Parent Experience is a key differentiator for attracting and retaining families.

Your school website should be a deeper experience than the mission statement on the home page. It should integrate different technologies, memorable messaging and be part of a broader digital strategy that crafts an excellent parent experience from the very first touchpoint.

By prioritising and investing into innovative ways to elevate the Parent Experience in the digital space, schools will position themselves as a top choice for discerning parents. If you’re interested to learn how to implement some of these digital experiences on your school website, get in touch with Feesable.

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