Five Signs You Need A New School Website
Your website is a vital part of your school's communication strategy. It provides an online presence for the school, and allows parents, prospective parents, pupils and other members of the community to find out information about the school.
As with any website, over time it can become dated, less effective and in need of a redesign. First and foremost, it’s important to listen to your parent community, and their opinions of your website. If you’re concerned and require more feedback, consider creating a survey for them to complete about it, and put it in your next newsletter.
Here are five signs that your school website mighht be due for an update...
1. Your website doesn’t meet Ofsted’s requirements
It’s really important that the vital information from Ofsted is displayed on your website, but also that it’s easy to find. Inspectors will go to your website expecting to quickly find the above information.
Unsurprisingly, the latest Ofsted update in February last year, focused on the provision of remote learning. A larger update prior to that (November 2020) covered, amongst other topics, updates on admission arrangements, exam results, pupil premium, SEND information and sports premium for primary schools.
If you have an older website that’s difficult to update, it can mean at best, it’s a timely exercise, or at worst it gets completely forgotten.
2. The website isn't mobile-friendly
According to Statista.com, in 2021, mobile devices accounted for around 55% of internet search traffic globally. This is compared to around 30% in 2015. So, if you haven’t updated your website in that time, chances are it’s not fit for purpose anymore, because it’s likely to be ignored by the majority of people. Nowadays, a website should be designed to be responsive so that it looks good and functions well on all devices, including mobiles and tablets as well as desktops.
When updating your own school website you’ll most likely be doing it on a PC, so it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the layout is adequate and it navigates appropriately. To check this is really simple, ask three of your team to go through each web page on their device. Ensure one is checking on an IOS device (iPhone), another on an android device (like a Samsung) and finally someone on a tablet.
You’ll be amazed how many issues you pick up that weren’t visible before, like impossible navigation, images not displaying properly or pages that (frustratingly) require you to scroll across to read.
3. It’s hard to navigate and/or find information on the website
A good website should be easy to navigate, and the information you need should be easy to find. If your school's website is difficult to use, it may be time for an update.
It may be that it used to serve its purpose a few years ago. The problem is, school websites need to be updated with new information regularly for various reasons, and overall, the amount of content your website requires is increasing year on year. Is your current system struggling to keep up?
When people visit your school's website, they should be able to find the information they are looking for within seconds of landing on the homepage. If this isn't happening—or if you frequently hear comments from current or prospective parents about how hard it is to use the site (or how much time they’ve wasted searching for information) your website may not be displaying at its best.
Again, an easy way to understand this better is to reach out to your current parents and ask for their feedback. Create a survey and put it in your school newsletter or send one out via app notification.
4. It’s difficult to update the website
One of the main benefits of a new website (if you choose the right one!) is that it can be easily updated with new information. If you're finding yourself struggling to keep your website up to date, it's likely that the design is too complex or the back-end is too difficult to operate.
There are many benefits of having an easy-to-update school website. One of the most important benefits is that it can help keep parents informed about what's going on at school. Parents want to be able to see news and images of what’s going on right now, not three years ago.
An easy-to-update website can also help reduce the amount of paper newsletters that are sent home with students. This can help save schools money and help the environment. Another benefit of an easy-to-update website is that it can make it easier for schools to communicate with students and parents.
Choose a website provider that allows you to edit pages from the front end of your website, so you get a real idea of how the end result is going to look as you’re updating. This is also an advantage for those members of staff who aren’t as technologically minded as others.
Furthermore, multiple users should be able to access the control centre of your website to make updates. If, like Schoolzine’s websites, you are able to filter the access of logins, you can ensure you protect the security of your information and who has access to which pages.
5. It doesn’t link well with your other digital platforms
A good website should work as seamlessly as possible with other digital platforms like your school newsletter, your school app, payment and social platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Ideally, having as many platforms as possible under one login, and for those that you can’t, ensuring you make it as easy for parents and prospective parents to access the information they need.
With everything in one place, your visitors can get to the right information quicker, leaving them feeling more engaged, and resulting in cost efficiencies in your school office.
In addition to streamlining your platforms, it’s also important that your branding across these digital platforms is consistent and feels up to date.
If you’ve been left nodding your head at two or three of the above points, it might be time to consider a school website refresh. Always remember that your school’s website is the shop window of your school, and it’s often the first opportunity you have to make the right impression.
To see how we can help you with your school’s website and broader communication strategy, contact us today to chat.