For prospective students your school’s website is likely to be their first port of call, and for existing students and parents it should be your key information center – is your website up to the task?
Update your school’s website regularly! Even if your website looks like a powerpoint presentation from the 90s, if the information on there is up-to-date and accurate then your website is useful. As soon as the information is old, inaccurate and unhelpful, people will stop visiting your site.
Try setting aside 30min a week to review and update, it’s amazing how quickly details change, an upcoming events calendar is a great way to get parents regularly visiting your website. Always display the date the article or information was updated so visitors know the information is current.
So you’re updating and creating new content regularly, but the old articles and pages are starting to build up… The solution is to create an archive section where you can file older content out of the way, but still have it accessible if needed. Archived data should be clearly tagged so it is not confused with your main content. Archives are an important part of any website and are often overlooked.
The cleaner and clearer a website is, the less time it takes to find the information you need.
Remove any unnecessary or duplicated menu items
Use familiar names, eg “Home”, “Contact”
Make content accessible and not hidden through layers of clicking
Remove anything that is not useful, particularly from the home page
Most of the above points can be done without involving a web designer, but if your website is looking particularly dated you may want to give it a refresh. A professional well designed website will instil confidence and solidify your school’s online presence. Whether re-designing in house or hiring and external company, here are some tips:
Get your readers’ views – speak to parents, students and teachers, find out what the people who will be using your website want
Navigation should be clear and easy to use
Keep it simple! As stated above, the cleaner and simpler the better, avoid flash animations, fancy menus and cluttered home pages
Choose a professional and readable font (comic sans is neither of these!)
Comply with UK web accessibility guidelines
Allow your readers to interact with you, enable comments on articles so teachers and students can express their opinions. You could also create a forum where your readers can start their own topics.
Add Facebook like and Twitter share buttons to your site, even if you don’t have dedicated pages these will help people to easily share your site with others. We will go more into social networking for schools in later articles, as it is a great way to engage with students, parents and share information.