23 Jul How to get a nice, easy, top-quality new school website
We’ve recently done quite a lot of work with a number of schools, helping to craft new responsive websites and bring their digital presence up to date. Examples include SFX School, Bedale High School and Diamond Hall Infant Academy.
Schools are fascinating to work with, as whilst their core requirements are often very similar, how they might choose to realise these requirements varies quite a lot. This can include things like:
- limiting access to pages to the appropriate department
- creating staff-only document repositories online
- creating secure pupil sections, where children can access information or media relevant to them
- bespoke calendar and timetable solutions
- interactive prospectuses
Sometimes, the school we’re working for doesn’t want any of these, and instead opts for a nice, subtle brochure site.
We’ve learned in our time building these sites that there can be a lot of different opinions on how a school website should be done. Not only between schools, but also within schools. So, we’ve come up with three key tips of an enjoyable school website building experience!
1. Choose a liaison team!
It might sound like you’re assembling a diplomatic mission to a faraway land, but it really is true that too many cooks spoil the broth. We find that development times can be prolonged, costs increased and a lot of additional stress if the website gets put out for review to the entire school. Everyone will have a different opinion, and unless you assign a team to choose the design and functionality of the new site, it may never get done!
Furthermore, it’s a good way to keep in touch afterwards. One point of contact within the school can channel queries and questions to the developers, and vice verse.
2. Only upload what you can maintain!
Sometimes it seems like a good idea to simply use the website as an easy file database. You know, upload every document that’s ever been photocopied, and display it up there for safe-keeping. We’ve had discs with hundreds of DOCs, PDFs and Excel files land, but the truth is, are you really going to want to maintain these after they’ve been uploaded? It’s better to have a small amount of up-to-date examination information than a huge list of school cleaning policies from ten years ago.
We’re not trying to be killjoys, but it’s not likely that most visitors are going to go that deep into the school archives for certain bits of information. Like the hourly schedule of last year’s Sixth Form trip to the museum.
3. Become a leader
Schools are investing in updating their digital presence at quite a pace. This is probably due to the large advances in web technology in the last five years, but also with the ever-growing mobile internet usage that is showing no signs of slowing down, it’s more important than ever to have information accessible at the touch of a button – especially amongst the younger generations.
Don’t be left behind. As other local schools invest, you can end up in a situation where your school looks far less enticing than others that parents or children may be considering. A sleek, professional and intuitive design coupled with professional photography and organic text and copywriting well go a long way to ensuring that your school website not only works and lasts, but it’s effective at doing the things you really need it to do.
These are just a few of the things we’ve discovered, and we’re sure there’ll be more to add in the coming months as we complete some further projects.