How to Build a Great Chinese ESL Website
For many Chinese, English skills are essential for connecting with the world. Since English language learners have different skill levels and goals, schools should find it tough to provide a one-fits-all service. This has resulted in a variety of ESL training methods.
The majority of foreign ESL companies already have qualified teachers, so what’s the next step for them to enter the Chinese market? Building a website! I’ll teach you the basics of creating a website that Chinese learners will love.
An ESL website’s colouring will have a strong impact on the readers’ first impression. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend more than three main colours for an ESL website. The main colour should often be the colour of the logo.
When choosing colours, it’s important to consider the key information that you want to convey, the colouring of that information should be strengthened to make it stand out.
If the brand is positioning itself as an expert in business English, cold colours would be appropriate, such as gentle blue, grey and brown (see image below.)
Make sure the colour scheme is suitable for the target customers. Cultural differences between the designer and customers could end causing a disconnect. People of different ages are also likely to have different opinions on colours.
Chinese people hold these general associations with colours:
- Red represents luck & hope. It’s also commonly used during traditional Chinese festivals. But, it can also represent a warning. I don’t recommend that ESL websites use red extensively, except during Spring Festival campaigns. A screen full of red could be too intense for readers.
- Orange represents youthfulness, energy and dynamism. If you use orange extensively, I recommend using a colour gradient, such as in the image below. Also, use white for the background behind text to make it all fit together nicely.
- Blue represents calm, stability, peace.
- Green represents health & hope. It symbolizes life.
- Purple represents mystery, grandeur, grace.
- Grey represents simplicity and calm. It’s cold and steady.
- Yellow is strongly associated with material wealth and power. It represents respect and grace. It was the colour reserved for emperors.
There should be a strong contrast between the website background and text. In order to make the text stand out, I wouldn’t advise using patterns or pictures behind text. In the image below, a red background is used to cover up the side of the complex car-racing background, and the text is placed over the red area. This makes the text a lot clearer than it would’ve been if it were placed directly over the car-racing background image.
Homepages are usually one of two types – navigational or landing page.
Navigational pages are useful for websites that have a lot of content or cater to more than one group of target customers. Check blow. The page provides users with several choices for where to proceed next, such as demo videos, event videos and a 7 day trial for online courses.
Landing page style homepages are suitable for websites that have less content or want to present a singular focus to their readers. The goal of these homepages is to present their benefits and drive users to take the next step. For example, on https://www.tutorabc.com.cn , it urges readers to sign up for a free course.
Besides colouring and layout, it’s the website content that will really determine if users will stay on the website or not. What type of content should an excellent ESL website have?
First, the website needs to clearly show which service they provide and for which customer group. This should be done in a prominent location on the homepage. For example, it may be 1) English for children; 2) TOEFL & IELTS tests or 3) business English for adults. If it doesn’t show a clear direction, the site is likely to lose a lot of potential customers who don’t have the patience to explore further. There are, after all, many competitors in the English training niche. In the image below, the website’s images and textual content clearly show that their service is tailored towards young students.
Next, the site should include information on courses and teachers. Suitable courses and quality teachers are very important factors for turning visitors into customers. The course schedules will likely be rather similar from one ESL training center to the next, but the teacher quality is a major factor that will determine if visitors will register for a course or not. ESL platforms should make their teachers’ background and qualifications easy to reach.
Third, present the strengths of the platform itself. If it’s online English training, I recommend providing a sample course that shows off some of your excellent teachers in video format. Another way is to give users access to a live one-hour course for free. The latter method makes it easier to gain the visitors’ contact info.
Also, if users can register for courses online, it’s best to put registration boxes on many pages of the site. This will help boost conversion rates. I prefer to use wording like “sign up for a free course” to get visitors’ contact info (such as in the image above).
It’s also important to have online chat tools on-site. This is extremely prevalent on Chinese websites and users expect it. Baidu Shanqiao and Qiye QQ are good options.
Webmasters often ask if they should have a blog to attract more visitors. I think this depends on how new the brand is and how much traffic the website is receiving. If it doesn’t yet have traffic, it would be more productive to post content on news platforms to help build the brand. Later, when the website has more traffic, a blog can help keep users coming back.
Audio/Video, Payments and Hosting
Speaking of live-streaming, ESL platforms use two methods. The first is integrated into the website. Students just need to register on the website and pay, then login to the website at the scheduled time. On-site courses usually allow students to type to teacher, but not speak. The other method of live-streaming is to use other software. This is usually more suitable for one-to-one sessions, as it allows for real-time video & audio sharing between both the student and teacher.
For payment methods, besides just Visa, Mastercard & JCB payment methods, I also recommend using Union Pay and Alipay.
For hosting a website in China, we have a few previous posts about that, such as The Problems With Hosting a Website in China.