In this day and age, creating and maintaining a website is absolutely essential, regardless of the services you offer. Nowhere is this more evident than in education. A school is only as successful as the community that supports it and building that kind of support requires a professional website.
Of course, constructing a website from scratch can be a difficult, if not downright scary, task. To help give an idea of what a school website requires, and how to avoid the biggest headaches associated with it, we’ve constructed this guide.
Establish a Goal for Your Website
The best school websites are those that are created with a clear purpose in mind. It’s simply not enough to have a webpage with the bare minimum contact info. Instead, imagine the website as a place for more than just telephone numbers and addresses. An effective school website is one that emphasizes communication between students, parents, and faculty, and fosters discussions by showcasing the brilliant accomplishments of its students. In this way, the website should serve as more than just an advertisement for your school, it should also serve as an advertisement for your community.
Develop a Team with Clear Responsibilities
Building a website haphazardly will almost certainly lead to disaster. After all, without a clear structure for the team to attach itself to, it can be unclear who’s in charge of specific tasks. As a school administrator, it’s up to you to dictate how the website will fill with content. You could contract the work to professional services, or maybe you’d prefer a more personalized approach from your faculty. Either way, it’s best to be consulting your team directly to find the approach that will work best for you and your school.
Understand Key Design Terms and How They Affect Your Site
One of the biggest issues with any new site is one of design: fixed-width or responsive? To the novice, these names likely have little meaning. In essence, a responsive design is one that caters to the plethora of devices currently available that can browse the Internet.
With a responsive design, users can access content from your website from their smart phones, tablets, or computers without having to manually adjust any settings. By contrast, a fixed-width design is one that is specifically designed with a desktop computer in mind and thus provides the graphic designer with a greater degree of control over the finished product.
How to Improve Content
The beauty of the Internet is that it’s a place of constant discussion and exchange of ideas. As such, it won’t take long before feedback from visitors helps you to better craft your content and decide which information to include on your site. When dealing with an upgrade to an older website, you may need to go back and reword older pieces of content and update them to a more current vernacular.
In terms of visual content, always hire a professional photographer to take pictures of the school and surrounding area. Anything less may result in blurry photos that become pixelated when viewed on a larger computer screen. It should also be mentioned that, when attempting to use photos of students for the website, ensure that you have the parent’s permission beforehand to avoid any legal issues.
How to Take Advantage of WordPress
WordPress is one of the most common content management systems out there and has a number of great features with which to take advantage of. In particular, WordPress offers its customers the ability to quickly and easily edit content, as well as seamlessly incorporate calendars and online payment systems directly into the website. This is especially useful for schools that are on a tight budget and can’t afford to outsource the work.
Don’t let these tips dissuade you though. Building a website is a fun and exciting experience and is sure to bring your faculty and community closer together. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, schools can stay in touch with their students and establish a dialogue that simply wasn’t possible 20 years ago. Don’t let inexperience prevent you from taking advantage of this exciting opportunity.