Today’s post comes from David Smith from Webanywhere, one of the many companies that build school websites. He’s going to give a bit of advice on school websites in general, and tell you a bit about what Webanywhere can offer. City of Edinburgh schools should also bear in mind the advice that James Coltham, the Children and Families Web Services Manager gave in this post on the Bright Futures blog, and check out the school and establishment website guidelines on The Orb.
Five tips for an up to date school website
More schools than ever before now have their own website. It’s not a surprise either; today, schools have to work like businesses – and when it comes to marketing themselves in the right way to attract new pupils, nothing can do this as effectively as a website.
At Webanywhere, we’re proud to have been a part of this boom – we’ve seen countless schools really embrace the digital age and dedicate themselves to producing outstanding websites. The best school websites we’ve seen are those that not only present the school as a great place to be – but also act as a useful resource for parents, pupils and teachers alike.
But part of having a fantastic, successful school website is keeping it up to date – a regularly updated website can vastly improve your Google search rankings. In turn, your school website will attract prospective parents looking for a local school. In order to help you manage a website with plenty of content that’s regularly updated, we’ve listed five ways to effectively keep your school website up to date.
Choose A System That’s Easy To Use
If you don’t have a school website yet, one of the key factors in your search should be a system that’s easy to use. The easier your website is to update and maintain, the quicker you can keep on top of it.
When choosing your website system, always think about how much time is going to be needed for creating pages, adding text and uploading photographs – then think about how much time you or your team will actually have available each week! If it looks complicated and will need weeks of training, forget it.
If your school website is left to one person to do all the updating, that’s fine – but it may mean they don’t have the time to oversee all areas of the website.
A better way to manage the website’s content creation and uploading could be to assign specific tasks to different members of staff. For example, your secretary could keep your events pages up to date with the latest open evenings, sports days and school parties, or your children could write blog posts for their teacher to upload. If different areas are assigned to different members of staff, it should be easier to keep updates consistent across the website.
Set deadlines too. If each section has a deadline for when new content needs to be added, you can not only balance out regular updating across, say, the course of a month – but you can ensure content is ready to upload when it needs to be. There’s nothing worse than forgetting about that calendar entry for Parents’ Evening!
Try Different Things
Over time, local anything, updating of the school website can become a monotonous task. Therefore, make sure interest is maintained not just amongst your staff but with visitors too by trying new things. For example, you could get the children involved over Christmas – allowing them to update the website – with some careful guidance of course – and therefore improving their ICT skills.
Ot how about creating a video of pupils’ classwork, narrated by the children? It’s a fresh way for parents to view the work their children have done – and it’d be an exciting classroom task, too!
Have Website Meetings
You’ll no doubt have regular staff meetings – so why not include the school website on the agenda? Better still, you could begin regular website meetings. This way, anyone involved in the school website can have their say, which should result in new ideas for content. You can also use it as opportunity to get updates on the progress of any new content being created.
Some website systems allow you to create survey forms – i.e. website visitors can complete a form and give their views and opinions on your website. This is a great way to find out if your website is doing the trick – and it’s an easy way to get new ideas – right from the target audience themselves.
You could even go one further step and ask the children themselves what they think of the website – or send out a physical survey form to parents. Ask them whether they think your website has an effective design, or if they find the resources pages useful. React to the feedback with what people want – and you’ll have visitors coming back to your school’s website again and again.