Having a well-designed education website is an ideal way to show who you are as an establishment, whether you’re an existing institution or building your education brand from the ground up.

Education website design
Get ready for a crash-course in education website design. Illustration by Orange Crush, web design by Mithum.

Remember, you’re providing both a valuable and invaluable service: knowledge. The best education website design solutions will support this knowledge through a clean layout, captivating images and engaging features.

Higher education and professional school websites

The purpose of this type of website is to uphold the overall brand of the university or college. A higher education website contains a great deal of important information for students, faculty and staff. Additionally, it’s a way of representing the campus culture for prospective students.

Drexel University website
The Drexel University home page is full of navigational cues, but they are organized and separated in such a way that it never feels cluttered or confusing.
Web design for professional training courses
This website communicates the nautical vibe of the school’s town as well as the professional vibe of the student body. Design by UndoRedo

What works well?

University of Montana website
via University of Montana

When it comes to higher education website design, the competition is fierce. The landing page needs to be simultaneously simple and striking in order to hold the attention of the visitor, especially if they happen to be a prospective student.

Look for a hero image that encompasses what makes your university unique. In the case of the University of Montana, the hero image celebrates homecoming season by highlighting their marching band. It’s timely, it’s engaging, and it gives the visitor an in-depth look at what makes campus life so great. This is your time to really show off.

While a great hero image will encourage the visitor to stick around and explore, a clean design will help them make the most of the website experience.

Think about simple, easy-to-comprehend categories which your user needs to see. Make everything clear and clickable. Create an intuitive, functional layout and remember to factor in a way for the navigation to work on a mobile device.

Universities are going to have a lot of portals for students and faculty, so your navigation menus will need to be particularly well organized. Start with the three As of higher education website navigation: academics, admission, athletics. Then, branch off from there.

Elementary and high school website designs

While the overall goals of elementary and high school websites are similar to that of a higher education website, the audience is completely different. These websites are most likely to be visited by parents and employees, rather than the students themselves. But still, they’re a great resource for important information, so it’s important to display everything clearly.

Academy for Thinkers website
This design by Gabriel™ makes student life the priority with a photo-centric approach
High school web page design
This design by webDAE emphasizes a cooperative learning environment
Web design for elementary school education
This design by TheLionKing showcases young pupils hard at work, giving parents confidence that their children will be challenged

What works well?

Think about what a parent wants to see when they visit the website for their child’s school: they want engagement.

Little Seeds Academy website
Websites for younger students can appeal to curiosity and imagination inherent in education. Design by slf1986

Try showing a variety of interactive photos, like students at play or students with teachers in a classroom.

Focus on all the little things that make your school great, and most importantly, show how happy the students are when they’re at school. Be authentic with this approach. Avoid stock photos, and instead, invest in a photographer who can capture your student body in its natural environment.

For the navigation, think about things that parents care most about. For example, the best education website design solutions will have an easily accessible calendar feature. It sounds obvious, but actually, the calendar is often overlooked. Plain and simple: it’s truly one of the most important features for parents who need to know about breaks, holidays, exams and school-wide events.

Online education and e-learning website designs

Get schooled without leaving the house? Score. Online education is a growing field, and the backbone to any online education platform is a thoughtfully designed website. If the entire educational experience takes place in one digital environment, it can’t be anything short of excellent. And an online education doesn’t have to mean homeschooling or online college—it can also be something quicker and simpler, like a course on Lynda or Skillshare or even a mobile app that lets students learn a new language.

Online learning web design
Because e-learning takes place in a digital environment, you can trade the photographic approach for illustrations. Design by Max Iver
E-learning web page design for digital marketing
Design by Iconic Graphics.
Language Learning landing page
This web design by Simplywebs99 is easy to navigate and gives prospective students a visual snapshot of the world they are about to enter by learning Japanese.
Web design for an online learning platform
This design by Jetro Cabau makes video courses easy to find in the navigation bar at the top.
Web design for an e-learning platform
Skill Me Up website design by Mithum
Web design for an e-commerce education platform
Education websites for more digital skills can get away with a modern look. By Design Castle.

What works well?

True story: clean, minimalist design works well in nearly any digital space. Online education websites are no exception. It’s as easy as ABC: a digital learning space should allow the student to have a very easy time getting where they need to go. Don’t make it too complicated. Opt for easy-to-read fonts on bold buttons with simple calls to action, like “learn more about our courses” or “start your free trial now.”

Online learning website for Saas
Color and a simplistic layout is key for helping users navigate. Design by Adrian Hufsa.

The difference between this type of education website and others is the student will essentially live within the digital environment. This means particular attention must be paid to the profile and the course browsing pages. Make sure the student can easily find courses, understand their contents and can see how long each one will take—right down to the minutes—all at a moment’s glance. The student profile should be simple to use and act as a main hub where they can organize notes and create their own lesson plans. Even the most eager students can find self-motivation challenging, so make it easy on them by designing eye-catching measures and badges that demonstrate progress.

How to earn top marks with your education website design

Appeal to a diverse faculty and student body

When deciding on the visual aspects of an education website, there are many important factors to consider. Be strategic. This website could be the decision-maker for those who are interested in gaining knowledge from your institution or becoming employees who share their knowledge with others.

Web design for corporate education services
This web page design by NEX Solutions has universal appeal with a classic, straightforward layout that still manages to look minimalist, modern, and fun.

Aim for universal appeal to any audience. The Skillshare website is a great example of universal appeal. The colors are neutral, the layout is easy to comprehend and the content is diverse. In the case of a higher education website, universal appeal means that your site should be attractive to the vibrant, curious student audience as well as the professional, experienced faculty or staff audience. Make it clear that everyone is welcome at your institution, and everyone makes up an important piece of its overall success. This can be reflected through diverse imagery and a generally neutral, ageless look. Be modern without being trendy.

Web design for a memorization learning platform
If your educational approach is unconventional, your website should be as well. This is what separates you from competitors, so show it off. By Cinnamon Pixels.

Additionally, use your website to show what gives you an edge over your competitors. Do you have an award-winning curriculum? Share your success. Is your campus filled with beautiful architecture? Let visitors see the perks right from the first click.

Extend your education brand with colors, shapes and imagery

Colors and shapes are brand-defining aspects of any business, including educational establishments. Branding is necessary and important regardless of the audience, whether it’s higher education, primary/secondary education or an online learning tool. Visual cues can help show who you are and what you’re all about. It’s what makes you memorable, and it’s a nice companion piece to your website design.

Educational website design for international students
This web design by Anron heavily relies on color as a branding vehicle. Even the binders in the header photo subtly match the brand colors.
Educational website for learning agriculture
This web design by Anton Siribaddana uses a monochrome green color pallette and the repetition of wheat imagery to convey cohesive branding.

Consider some popular education color schemes which pair well with a signature shape, like the University of Michigan’s striking blue-and-gold letter M. These colors have become synonymous with the university as a whole, and the shape is also extremely recognizable. Throughout their website, the colors stay true to the overarching theme. This intelligent, easy-to-recognize branding supports the university as a whole. Even those who have never been to Michigan and don’t follow college sports are still likely to recognize the colors and the shape.

University of Michigan website
via University of Michigan

Some of the most successful education branding ventures are those that embrace simple, visually appealing shapes. An iconic example is the Harvard University coat of arms. The rich crimson color and bold shield shape are incredibly significant to the university as a whole, and it’s also a front-and-center element of the university’s website design.

Harvard University coat of arms
Harvard University’s website design incorporates their classic coat of arms in modern way.

For Denman College, the headings on the website are concise and to the point. Each is supported by a vivid color to draw the eye in, but the colors are still coordinated together. Since the colors are fairly bright, the designer made the smart choice to not focus too much on unique shapes. The layout is built entirely from rectangles, which makes it easy to digest and navigate.

Denman College website
Denman College website design by akorn.creative

Long story short: don’t go over the top. Say the words you need to say with the colors and shapes which support your overall identity, then let the brand speak for itself.

Get smart with a great education website

Education is your area of expertise, and your website should support your overall goals. Just be smart. Making smart design choices can boost your brand and elevate your appeal, both for prospective students and employees.

A well-designed website is an essential part of any education venture, regardless of the type of knowledge offered or the desired audience that you’re trying to reach. Now that you’ve hit the books when it comes to website design, it’s time to bring in an expert to bring your vision to life. Connect with our global community of designers and start creating a website that’s honor roll-worthy.