As a user of the internet (which you clearly are if you’re reading this), you’ve likely had the experience of landing on a frustrating website. If you’re in charge of your camp’s web presence, these summer camp website tips are designed to help you ensure that visitors aren’t having this experience.
Whether your site is old and hasn’t been updated since 1997, doesn’t load quickly, looks jumbled, or just doesn’t make sense, an update is the most important thing you can do for your camp marketing. Your site is a virtual first impression and it’s how you tell parents about the life-changing experiences their kids will have at your camp. Just like you wouldn’t attend an open house without a professional approach, you shouldn’t offer a website experience that might dissuade families from enrolling their kids.
There are benefits to hiring a professional to update or completely redesign your website, but if you don’t have the time, budget, or capacity for that big of a project, have no fear. These simple summer camp website tips can help you make a great first impression for new visitors, and keep your most important audiences coming back time and again.
- Tailor your website to your audience: camp parents
- Make sure your site is branded by using your colors, fonts, and images
- Simplify your menus and make it easy to get back to your homepage
- Create an FAQ page and feature testimonials prominently
- Make it work like a well-oiled machine by fixing broken links and ensuring mobile responsiveness
- Test page speed and use Semrush to fix loading issues and compare your site to competitors
Website Tip #1: Tell the right story to the right people
Most camp websites are designed to attract new camp families, which is important to remember when you are updating existing content or adding new. While you can probably make a list of 1,000 things to love about your camp, it’s critical that you edit your homepage content to include:
- Emotional appeal – how camp positively impacts campers
- Credibility – through testimonials and reviews
- Program fit – cost, location, schedule, activity types
Think of this as a problem-solving approach. Parents have the problem of not knowing which camp to send their kids. You want to solve that by convincing them as quickly as possible that your camp is that place.
Website Tip #2: Highlight your brand using fonts, colors, and images
Maintaining brand cohesiveness across all marketing channels creates a sense of familiarity among potential camp families, which can help your messages stay with them as they look at all their options. Three visual elements to keep consistent are:
When it comes to colors, focus on using just your brand colors in key places, such as a header menu, buttons, and titles or headings.
If you want more variety, try finding slightly lighter or darker shades of your primary brand colors, so you keep that ever-important consistency.
While you might use a specific font for your camp logo or swag, the font on your website needs to balance brand and readability. Our font tips are:
- Use a web-safe font to ensure that your text will load correctly on different browsers and devices.
- Choose a limited number of font styles (different sizes and degrees of boldness for headings, subheadings, body text) and stick with them.
- Black text on a white background is the easiest to read. If you want to use your brand colors in text, you can check their contrast by using this tool. Just enter the color codes for your text and background, and you’ll get a score. Then you can make adjustments to improve your rating.
Nothing tells the story of your camp better than some of the amazing photos you take. These images are essential content for your website, but there are some important things to remember as you add them.
- All images should be high-resolution, but don’t forget that file size matters. You can use this tool to optimize your photos so they retain their sharpness but don’t slow down your site due to their large file size.
- Make sure you know the difference between file type, and choose appropriately. Photographs should be jpegs, while graphics should be uploaded as PNGs.
- Properly naming your images can help with search engine optimization, and help your camp website rank higher than others. Instead of file names that start with ‘img’ followed by a series of numbers, name each photo with its subject at the beginning of the file name, and each word separated by a dash.
Website Tip #3: Create a simple menu and homepage navigation
When you’re driving to a location you’ve never been to before, it’s obvious that the simplicity of the directions makes a difference. The fewer turns you have to make, the less likely you are to get lost. The same is true for websites. Ask yourself:
- Are your website feature pages clearly named and defined?
- Can visitors always get back to your homepage, no matter where they are on your site?
- Does your menu have too many options?
It may shock you to learn that visitors spend an average of 15 seconds on a webpage, before leaving. That gives you very little time to connect with people. Having a limited number of pages in an easy to digest menu is one way to keep them on your site longer. If a visitor ends up on a page that doesn’t give them the information they need, a sticky header menu that remains at the top of the page, even when scrolling, with a clickable logo that goes to your homepage, can get them back to the starting point with ease.
Maintaining brand cohesiveness across all marketing channels creates a sense of familiarity among potential camp families, which can help your messages stay with them as they look at all their options.
Website Tip #4: Feature an FAQ page and testimonials
Forms that allow parents to ask questions or request information are a must-have, but they also take time and effort to track and respond. Most of these questions will be about processes (registration, enrollment, and forms) and impact (what your camp can deliver to kids). By setting up an FAQ page, and displaying testimonials or reviews prominently, you can potentially reduce the number of parents asking you for this information.
As you seek to implement these summer camp website tips, your goal should be to create a more complete and user-friendly site. A Frequently Asked Questions page can be a real difference-maker for prospective families.
Group questions by topic (health, safety, activities), or by time of year (before, during, and after camp) and keep this FAQ page on your list of routine website maintenance. Policies and procedures change often, and you don’t want parents getting outdated information.
In a recent study, 92% of consumers reported that they would hesitate to make a purchase if there were no customer reviews available. An online form that you send to camp families after each session can help generate reviews that you can then post on your website.
Testimonials and reviews can help convince prospective families to send their kids to your camp without you having to do anything (besides keeping your website current). Feature testimonials on your homepage, below program information, so parents don’t have to click into deeper pages to see how your camp makes a different in kids’ lives.
Website tip #5: Test forms, fix broken links, and ensure mobile responsiveness
Many of these summer camp website tips are about the look and feel of your site, but no matter how sharp your presentation is, if your site doesn’t work the way visitors expect, you won’t convert them into new camp families. That’s why you need to test (and frequently re-test) your forms, your URLs, and how your site appears on phones.
Testing your web forms is important because you don’t want to lose track of the information these forms are collecting. The most important elements to check are:
- Do people submitting a form get an automated on-screen response letting them know their submission has been received?
- Do they get an email alert so they know you’ve collected their information?
- Is the form properly storing information and reporting submissions to the right staff member?
A delay in responding to important new camp families or inquiries can have a serious and significant impact on your summer, and reviewing each form is a simple way to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
If there’s a website issue more annoying than a broken link, we can’t think of it. There’s nothing that guarantees frustration and site abandonment more than seeing ERROR 404 on a screen. You can manually test each page, or if you have a larger site you can enter your homepage URL in this free tool, which will scan your entire site’s footprint and alert you to any broken links. Once you have your report, you can go through and fix each issue, either by updating the URL, deleting the page, or setting up a redirect to a newer version.
According to the Google Analytics Benchmarking feature, mobile devices drove 61% of visits to US websites in 2020. Mobile responsiveness should be built into your site, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t review each page anyway.
This tool allows you to enter your domain, and then view your site on different devices and orientations. If mobile responsiveness is an issue for you site-wide, it might be time to contact a developer to help you with a larger scale improvement.
Website Tip #6: Use speed tests and Semrush to help you site compete
Too slow is a no-go for websites. Many things can impact a site speed, including large media files, out-of-date plugins, and unnecessary lines of code. Some of these issues do require developer skills, but the first step is understanding if your site has issues in the first place. Another test you can run is a comparison between your site and those of your competitors. Until you know how your site loads and where it ranks, you can’t make strategic decisions for updates, both those you can do and those for which you need outside support.
Page speed tests
Your web visitors have a need for speed. If your site is slow to load, you can lose valuable traffic. There’s no need to refresh your site with a stopwatch in hand—just use Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix. Paste your URL into either tool and you’ll get a report that not only details any issues that impact the load speed of your site, but also suggestions for how to improve it.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a big can o’ worms, but if you’re willing to spend a little money, Semrush has a number of features that don’t require expert knowledge. You can also start with a free seven-day trial before you create a paid account.
One of our favorite features is the position tracking tool. You can enter your URL, as well as the names of the camps you think are your direct competitors. After adding keywords (the tool will suggest many of these for you) and setting your geographic location, Semrush allows you to see where you rank in search results compared to your competitors.
How to know if these summer camp website tips are working for you
As you make these changes and updates to your site, it can sometimes be challenging to know if they’re contributing in the ways you want them to. The best way to determine this is to ask! Here are a few approaches:
- Prospective parents are your most important audience, and you’ve got a whole slew of former prospects to talk to. Reach out to some camp families that you know well, and ask them how they find your website. Did they have a good experience on their first visit? What do they love or hate about your site?
- Do a competitive analysis. Look at your competitors’ websites and make sure that you’re providing the same information, but doing it better.
- Reach out to friends or family members and give them tasks to complete on the site. You can interview them after and ask them what worked well and what didn’t.
Summer camp website tips that make a difference
If you put yourself in the shoes of a potential camp parent, you know exactly what you want them to feel when they visit your site. That your camp can deliver the experiences that can change a camper’s life, that you and your team can be trusted, and that you will provide an intuitive process from the first time they visit your site until the day they drop their kid off.
Little improvements can go a long way, and anyone can make them happen, even without development knowledge or experience. Improving your camp’s website in these simple yet important ways, means you can reduce friction and frustration and increase the likelihood that first-time website visitors will join your camp community.