January 24th 2018

5 tips to what makes a good School Website?

We often get asked the above question and it is quite a hard one to answer, however we can give our view on what we think is a good website for your school.

Your school is actually a brand to start with so ideally your website needs to communicate your ethos and brand messages. This sounds too corporately so how does your school communicates with the children and parents wanting to come to your school. Word of mouth is possibly going to always come first and then the potential parent would want to have a look at your website. As a school it's not as simple as this as you do need to also have boxes to tick with the Government and Department of Education.

Setting the right tone both visual and through word is going to be key to help sale your school to the parents. The website then needs to be more than a glossy brochure with some key information to tick the boxes for OFSTED. You don't want the website to be over complicated and hard to use as well.  In this blog we're not going to write the obvious when it comes to building a website like we have developers it needs to be XYZ.

Lets real it back a little as well, as at the end of the day someone from your leadership team or one of the teachers are going to have to take responsibility for the administration of the website so lets start here:

1) Lets get it right for OFSTED and the inspectors/auditors

So every website will have to 17 standard pages these are:

  1. School contact details
  2. Admission arrangements
  3. Ofsted reports
  4. Exam and assessment results
  5. Performance tables
  6. Curriculum
  7. Behaviour policy
  8. School complaints procedure
  9. Pupil premium
  10. Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium
  11. PE and sport premium for primary schools
  12. Special educational needs (SEN) and disability information
  13. Equality objectives
  14. Governors’ information and duties
  15. Charging and remissions policies
  16. Values and ethos
  17. Requests for paper copies

So you will need to have all the content ready for the above pages. These could be seen as the most haves you can write them in away to suite your tone of the school. You should have some nice graphics to along side this.

2) What kind of message do you want to give?

The way the content is written and the visual images will set your website apart from others, the most time consuming part of getting your website designed and built is the content. With out it the designer will have a hard job and with out the right visual elements the site could look a little bland. It is well worth either investing in a decent SLR camera or commission a photographer to take some images of the school. A mixture of a good written message on a page with some high quality graphics or videos will help bring the site to life. A good tip when taking photos is to take them landscape rather than portrait. The designers will then be able to crop and work with them better and get the most usage out of the images. Keep images consistent and all the same size will help with image galleries and layouts when doing the design for the website.

3)  The design of your website

The design of your website is very much about how you want the parents to learn about your schools. A good web design company would find out what your looking to achieve. If you have had poor OFSTED results then you may want to focus the design about promoting areas where you where weak on.

If you looking to increase bums on seats then it may be that you want to show of success stories of how well your students and teaching staff have performed. Many sites go down the root of whats being fashionable try and break from convention. It may be prior to commissioning the website you have a focus group and ask teachers and parents on what they would expect to see and what would help them as stakeholder.

Things like mobile responsive and it should be easy to navigate you shouldn't even worry about and expect this from your website designer. However make that very clear in your brief to the the website designer. (You never know they may not be with the times).

4) Saving you time

The perfect website would save you time and a lot of effort.  The brief at the start of the project would should be the hardest part of getting your website built. You need to document in detail exactly how you want the website to work and what you would like the website to do for you. The more information you give your web company the better and painless it will be for you. The designers will work exactly to  you brief and will not make assumptions about say how a gallery will work. If you tell them it needs to be in a grid and open into a lightbox. The main gallery page should show every gallery created and when you click on the image it then goes through to that gallery. Get involved and stay involved in the whole process.

Functionality is also key and you part of the functionality is that you would want to make sure the administration is as easy as possible so you don't waste time looking or waiting for things to work.  For example a page in the admin area you would want title, select the template, possibly make it a sub page of another page. Then a simple to use word processing where you can type and add images. Select a gallery, then put in the SEO information title and meta description. Then a simple publish button. You don't want multiple check boxes or going to other screens to make the page appear. Likewise you don't want to be calling the web design company every 5 minutes to be reminded or show you how to do things.

5) Do what's right for your school

There is a lot of us out here looking to work with schools and our straight up advise is to do what is right for your school. One thing we would say is cheap isn't good, likewise paying the earth for a website may not be the right move. However you can look at the website as an asset which can help your balance sheet. Write the cost off over a a couple of years and look at the website as a key tool in your marketing arsenal. We know schools at the moment are going through a very tough time financially but if you will need to invest in marketing to help get the numbers up to get your funding for each child. Everyone is searching for schools on their phones and desktop computers and finding the right web design and development company will help you do whats best for your school.

For more information on how we can help your school get a easy to use feature packed website please do get in touch through our contact us page. If you want to find out more information please click here

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