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What Is Your School Website’s Value?
school website value

We live in a world where people are quick to form opinions based on first impressions. In today's tech-driven age, a website is your school's storefront that can work for or against you. It can show parents, students, and faculty that you're the real deal, or it can be a clear sign that there are better offerings on the market.

You already know that your school's website is a major contact point between you and a visitor. As a common rule, the internet is the first place your target audience will go to understand who you are and what you want to do. So how do you attract more visitors, generate interest, and stand out from other websites?

You may now be asking yourself, "What makes a valuable school website?" and "How can we turn our existing website into one with even higher value?" and "Do we really have to sell our website?" Well, in a sense, you do have to "sell" your website, but there are numerous factors to consider as you create a product that will be of real value in your unique industry—the business of education. To help answer these questions, let's take a look at what other online businesses do and tweak it to work for you.

Overall website performance

We've created a checklist of a good school website's critical characteristics:

1. Design for Overall Performance

Among the many factors involved, the content and design of the website must accurately and clearly reflect your website's mission. In other words, the design and content of your school's site should help promote the overall purpose of your site.

For instance, if the goal is to be a standout resource for students and parents, schools will increase their website value by putting calendar and news updates (more about that later) front and center. And adding a "quick links" section on the Home page for immediate access will make your site a friendly place for your target market—your school's parents and students.

You can also include social media buttons to direct visitors to your social media pages and allow them to comment, like, and share your posts. A strong social media presence will go a long way to improving your website worth We won't go into it here, but there's a unique algorithm that generates value and increases your domain worth as you share clicks between your school site and your social pages, increasing your social media visibility while simultaneously improving your school's site performance.

attracting students and employees to your school

2. Attracting Students & Employees

First impressions are crucial for potential employees and parents seeking the ideal school for their children. Improve your website's worth by showing site visitors what it might actually feel like as a student at your school by putting up two things that will surely improve your search engine ranking and bring in organic traffic:

  • Eye-Catching Photos & Videos

    You want your photos to be so good that people stop for a moment to take it all in! Of course, every image may not be that stunning, but it would be helpful to put one or two pictures on the home page and throughout your website with such spectacular appeal.

    Create even more genuine interest by posting videos on the school website. Inviting photos and videos is a great way to show prospective students and employees what to expect. Plus, it allows them to make a quick comparison between your school and the one down the street. You can opt for inspirational videos or even create fun, imaginative scenarios with your own staff. That'll definitely make you stand out.
    • Relevant & Quality Content

      It's imperative that your site contains relevant information that is easy to digest. Provide information that you know will be helpful to parents, students, and potential employees.

      Summarize information like semester dates, upcoming events, and lunch menus in easy-to-read, bulleted lists. Also, break down long texts into clear headings, subheadings, and tables when appropriate.
    browsing experience

    3. Creating a Smooth Browsing Experience

    All of us have accessed websites to book a flight, look up a menu, or order something online and wanted to pull our hair out because the experience is so frustrating. Sometimes the pages take forever to load, the ads are annoying, they're not intuitive and easy to navigate, and the whole page looks cluttered on our phones.

    You don't have to be a "website expert" to know that most people won't visit the site a second time. If you want your visitors to keep coming back, you need to keep the following three things in mind:

    • Quick Load Times

      People are very impatient these days. If your website speed isn't optimal, they won't wait forever for the websites to load. If the site takes more than five seconds to load, a large percentage of visitors will bounce. Obviously, this is an area where you need the help of an expert website provider.

    • Mobile Friendliness

      Since most people use smartphones for everything, you need to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Nowadays, websites that appear shaky on a smartphone are pure amateur work and a certain way to destroy your score on search engines, severely decreasing your website worth.

    • Effortless Navigation

      Increase your website value in a hurry with a simple navigation. Beautifully curated content and spectacular images are undoubtedly helpful, but they're of no use if visitors can't quickly find the information they're looking for, leave the website feeling frustrated, and go looking elsewhere. This is particularly vital for parents who are researching schools for their kids.
    keeping parents updated

    4. Keeping Parents Updated

    Surely you already know how sensitive parents are to every detail in your school. They have probably bookmarked your website to keep abreast of every development, big or small. You can provide the information and enhance your website value through two primary sources: 

    • A School News Page
      Be sure to include a special news page where you can share the children's latest activities and school events as well as show the school's daily atmosphere. This will show parents that you care. You can supplement the news with high-quality photos and videos.

    • An FAQ Page

      Another surefire way to boost your website value is by having a quality FAQ page. This is often the first place parents, students, and prospective employees and parents (potential "buyers") will look for essential information. What questions do people ask regularly? Really increase your website's worth by listing them on the website’s FAQ page, thus alleviating your already over-burdened office staff.
    laser focus by staff

    5. Leave the Staff to Laser Focus on Their Job

    You need the website to take some burden off the staff's shoulders. Your costs increase when staff is bombarded with calls and emails about questions that could be easily found on your website. 

    Imagine receiving 20 calls/emails a day about the lunch menu and 30 more about semester deadlines. A quick calculation tells you that if you put important dates, schedules, or calendars on the school's website, your employees won't have to spend their valuable time answering 50 calls/emails every day! 

    How We Can Help

    Of course, in addition to the website, you need a reliable website provider and manager to take care of all the items on this list. This is where we come in.

    By now, you know what a good school website looks like. Many schools may take an in-house approach to optimize their online presence, increase the number of visitors, and rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs). 

    It's certainly possible to have relatively good performance by doing so, but you'll have to spend considerable money and time to bring in external experts or train your existing staff. That may defeat your purpose and desire to increase your website value at a lower price rather than the higher price it would cost to develop and maintain the school's website while actually adding to your staff's already ridiculous to-do lists.

    How we can help

    Of course, there's another way, and that's to use a reliable website provider. At School Webmasters, we can turn your platform into the perfect school website where you make an excellent first impression.

    You can easily get a quote right now or just contact us (call 888.750.4556 and speak with Jim) and let us point you in the right direction. Are you really in the business of "selling your website"? No, but we are!

    School Marketing in the Digital Age eBook
    781250
    Hire Top-Quality Teachers by Focusing Your School Website on What Teachers are Seeking
    hire quality teaching staff

    Your school website is charged with serving many functions, particularly that of providing information to prospective and current parents of children in the grades your school serves. But, another important role is to recruit quality staff.

    When you are looking for qualified teachers, for example, you want to find teachers who appreciate and seek to work in a school with your values and services. Evidence shows that one of the first steps job seekers will do when they learn of your job openings is visit your school site to get a feel for what your school offers. They are looking for examples of what your school values, what your students aspire to, and what's in it for them. Does your school site provide that?

    Your journey starts here

    Where to begin

    You can begin by simply making sure you post jobs on your school website. Include both your classified and your certified positions. The job postings should be easy to access from your home page, and each posting on your site should include a job description that describes what values your school desires this person to fulfill. Teacher website recruitment is an affordable and effective way for school districts to not only to find quality applicants but to attract those with personal goals that support those of their schools.

    As an example, your school might include having every child reach their highest potential. So, your school would desire to hire qualified candidates who also value that goal. By including job-appropriate values in your job postings, you are more likely to attract candidates whose education and personal goals match your school's mission.

    With a bit of thought, this can be applied to every job posting. Some schools, on their job boards, call this area of the job description the "personal attributes," which defines what they are looking for. Be sure to include personnel aspects that reflect values that support your school's mission and goals.

    Oh, and don't forget to include links to teacher job sites where you've posted your openings on your social media. Make it easy for parents in your district's schools to share open job positions with their family and friends who might be interested.

    Human resources website focus

    Human resources website focus

    We recommend that school websites, particularly district websites, include an area for human resources, where they post job boards or open positions with attached job descriptions. Include an area that describes what your schools value along with your mission statement and goals.

    Provide evidence

    Provide evidence that these goals aren't simply nice-sounding words painted on the wall by the office but are successfully applied by including testimonials from students and staff. Along with those teaching positions, include testimonials.

    For example, if your mission is to provide students an education that prepares students for success in society, interview alumni and have them tell you how the education they received from your staff helped them succeed in their career goals. Include these testimonials throughout your site but especially with your open job postings to validate that your mission and goals are more than just talk—but they are lived by your staff.

    Assure support

    If you are targeting recent college graduates, include descriptions to assure them that they will be mentored and given career advice from experienced staff to help them succeed and positively impact their students' futures.

    Keep it simple

    Make it simple

    Make the process of applying for a job in your school or district a simple one by putting everything online. Let them post resumes as an attachment. Create an application that can be completed online. Let them upload recommendations or other application requirements right from your district and schools' websites.

    You can use online programs that streamline the application process, making it simple for the applicant and the HR staff. But, if you are a smaller school with an even smaller budget, you can still put everything online through your school website, making the whole process simple for job seekers as well.

    Outline requirements

    Some of the online requirements may include:

    • Eligibility requirements (by job)
    • Teacher or job experience
    • Requirement documentation
    • Education, Certification, licensing, or degree requirements
    • Resume/cover letter
    • Copies of transcripts
    • Letter of recommendation
    Questions candidates might ask

    Questions candidates might ask

    Give job seekers the answers they need regarding your hiring process. This may include questions like:

    • How long will I wait to hear if I'm being considered?
    • What is your interview/hiring process like?
    • If I'm out of state, will you consider an online interview?
    • What state or other requirements apply to this job?
    • What benefits (if any) are included in this job?
    • What career advancement opportunities are there in your school/schools?

    Does your site reflect your values?

    Look long and hard at the areas of your schools' websites that will be visited by prospective staff. Do they reflect the types of values for which you are trying to hire? Do you provide examples of these values in action in the staff and the students and even the community? If not, upgrade the site content to better represent your highest goals for your recruitment/hiring processes.

    Finally, expand your reach by getting your jobs posted on job search sites, job boards, and teaching jobs sites. For classified positions or part-time roles, consider classified ads in both online and print publications locally. On your human resources pages, include links to job search companies where you regularly post your teaching jobs.

    Culture matters in recruitment

    Beyond job descriptions and pay scales, potential staff is concerned about the working culture they will immerse themselves in for most of the day. In fact, a survey done in 2019 by Glassdoor shows us that 56 percent of working adults say that a strong workplace culture is more important than salary. 77% percent of those surveyed said they would consider the culture before they would even apply for a job there. I would guess that if this survey were done by those in the education sector, these numbers would be even higher.

    How can you reflect your school's culture to recruit staff? Basically, it boiled down to marketing your staff, students, successes, programs, and activities. It also includes keeping your school website current and informative. Here are a few tips:

    Highlight existing school staff regularly

    Does your staff know your school's mission? Do they regularly try to implement those education goals into their jobs daily or weekly? If so, how? Can they share examples of how they do that? These examples can be wonderful stories to turn into brief video testimonials for your human resources page and for information to share with prospective staff during the recruitment phase.

    Using your website as a repository for these glimpses into the stories of your staff is a cost-effective human resource tool that will help in recruiting efforts as well as invaluable for staff morale. Consider video interviews, written or video testimonials, photos, and site reviews that reflect successful staff experiences and the education programs they are proud of.

    Alumni success stories

    Don't forget about those alumni either. You are likely to have community members who have gone on to fulfill the dreams that began while they attended your school. Gather that information and stories and share them as testimonials on your site and in your recruitment marketing materials.

    Welcoming new employees

    New employees

    We're all looking for great teachers and staff, right? The trick is to stand out from the crowd so that those talented and dedicated folks choose your school (or schools) over all the others who are recruiting. And trust us, everyone is currently recruiting.

    Staff intranet

    Create internal processes where new employees are mentored and welcomed into your school culture warmly. Add a section on your intranet (secured employee site) where new staff can become familiar with how things are done at your school.

    Your teachers should access your intranet site daily to find things such as announcements, scheduled functions, success stories, and honored and valued traditions; and be sure to use it as a place to highlight and introduce staff on a regular basis and to support all of your schools' employees.

    We've got your back

    We've got your back

    Of course, as always, just reach out to School Webmasters when you need help with developing a website and social media to put all of these ideas into practice. Get a quote or call us at (888) 750-4556 and talk to Jim Leedy to learn how we can help!

    784963
    Is Your School Website Communicating Your Brand?
    school branding

    Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Apple, Gucci, and Toys R Us. You may love or hate them, but when you read each of those names, you know who they are and what they stand for. In other words, they have done an excellent job of conveying brand identity.

    Believe it or not, your school isn't that different from Coca-Cola. You are part of a specific industry—the education industry—with stakeholders to engage and impress and a reputation to portray. Whether it's a teacher looking for a potential position at your school, a parent thinking about the right placement for their kids, or a student researching the best school to help him reach his lofty goals, they need to understand your strengths and the benefits of going with your company/your school.

    Of course, people know that the internet, i.e., a good website, is the perfect place to get that basic information. That's the importance of making sure your school has a quality website, and that's why you cannot afford to make a miserable first impression.

    Let us show how to use your school's website to effectively communicate your brand and stand out as one of the best school websites in the industry.

    A Perfect School Website to Communicate Your Brand

    Yes, even educational websites must go through the process. If you want your brand, story, and identity to shine through your school website, there are specific website details and features to in mind.

    home page

     1. It All Starts with the Homepage

    When users visit your school website for the first time, you have about five seconds to make an excellent first impression. That’s why your website homepage plays such a vital role. As quickly as possible, on that first visit, you want your community (parents, students, teachers) to easily find the answers to these questions:

    1. Who are you, and what kind of school do you have?
    2. Why did you start this educational institution, and what is your goal?
    3. What makes your school different?
    4. What do you value at your school?

    Who can answer these questions? Whether your founder, CEO, teachers, administrators, or even students and parents, it would, most likely, be those who've been around a long time and really understand your goals and what you represent.

    Then, of course, you need to put such answers into a unique, lively package to make it attractive to visitors.

    2. Tell them “About Us”

    There is simply not enough space on the homepage to answer all these questions. An "About Us" page is the perfect place to tell your unique story, what sets you apart, and even introduce some inspiring personalities on your team. You can also outline your school's goals. Whatever the story is, it needs to be quick to access, easy to read, and relevant.

    3.  News, Blogging, Videos & Images

    Now that you've told about who you are, will you stop? No, because your story isn't finished yet. You need to keep the lines of communication open and keep users informed.

    A great website with no news or updates for three months or longer is not a great website. Keeping parents regularly informed is imperative.

    Let parents/students experience your school with a virtual visit or tell about the latest happenings at your school via videos and engaging images. You can also develop creative scenarios with teachers and staff to make your school's website even cooler.

    A good school website also needs a blog, which increases your site traffic and helps your search engine optimization. Be sure to check them periodically to make sure there are no broken links.

    4. Stay Relevant to Your Stakeholders

    This is the most fundamental point that educational organizations overlook when creating their brand. We must emphasize its importance. Everything you put on your website needs to be tailored to what you do and to your website audience.

    For example, someone visiting a high school website isn't interested in information that should be on a kindergarten website. The content of these two websites is vastly different. Likewise, parents who have new students with language learning or severe special needs will, most likely, not stay long on a website that gives the first impression of being only for the most gifted and advanced students in the community. And vice versa.

    You need to create a site that clearly tells your website visitors who you are and what you're trying to accomplish. Don't confuse them with irrelevant gobbledygook!

    5. Use a Clutter-Free Layout

    A cluttered design or layout on your educational website can make so much noise that it easily drowns out your message. Now that you've created relevant content to let parents know who you are, you must lead viewers to easily recognize it. Your educational website will achieve that with a clean, easy-to-navigate layout.

    school social media

    6. Open Portals to Social Media

    You know that social media dominates the web these days, and if you don't have a presence there, you virtually don't exist. You want to direct your website visitors to your social channels to keep them updated and engaged with your school. That's why you need to place social buttons (small Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter icons on webpages) prominently on every page. These are the gateways to your social accounts.

    Can You Do it On Your Own?

    After reading and hearing about these points, some schools might jump right into executing the process with the resources already at their disposal. You may have the same plan in your mind for your school. You can absolutely go for it, and we wish you the best of success. However, for the following reasons, you may conclude that you're fighting an uphill battle:

    1. You Need Experience & Expertise on Many Levels

    Creating professional, efficient layouts, producing engaging content, and keeping up your social sites require different sets of skills and expertise that are usually a bit hard to find in schools. That’s entirely logical because you’re an educational institution—not a website provider firm.

    2. Training People Doesn’t Come Cheap

    Yes, you can acquire that expertise by training the staff at your schools. However, the cost to set up the infrastructure and bring external experts to train and evaluate your staff’s performance can be out of budget. Plus, think about how many experts you'd have to bring in to handle different areas. You’re not working in just one dimension.

    3. Competition Won’t Give You an Eternity

    You’re not operating in a vacuum. Many players in the education sector with well-defined brands can quickly snatch talented hires and promising students away from you. You don't have forever to train your employees.

    full plate

    4. Your Plate Is Already Full

    Everyone on your team already has specific duties, which doesn't allow enough time to handle website management too. You want them to focus on their main job and not chase down two rabbits.

    What Is the Solution?

    So, you need to optimize your website fast and cannot solely rely on your team. This is where a reliable website provider comes in, offering you their skilled team, infrastructure, and website development experience.

    Don't waste all that precious money and time when you can bring in a professional website provider to handle everything from website design and management to social media and public relations.

    We Take You Step By Step

    At School Webmasters, we can help your school show your brand’s identity. With us, you can turn your platform into the perfect school website where you make an excellent first impression. We do not offer a typical customer management system, and you won’t have to ever worry about things such as functionality, responsive mobile devices, or ADA compliance.

    step by step

    Here are just some of the forces that we put at your disposal:

    Project Coordinators 

    Our experts recommend proven strategies and help with developing and carrying out the right action plan for your high-quality, new website.

    Copywriters & Designers

    Our copywriters use their magic touch to create engaging, relevant content, attracting parents and students. Our design team complements this detailed information with custom graphics for your approval.

    Web Admins

    Once the website is live and running, our web admins can take over, incorporate your staff’s updates, and make sure the website is easily accessible on all desktop and mobile devices.

    Quality Control Experts

    Even an exceptionally good school website won't stay that way without constant monitoring and management. Our quality control team closely monitors your website, makes the necessary adjustments, and contacts you when needed.

    We’ll be the professional squad by your side day in and day out. Plus, we save you money and time while helping you establish yourself as the best educational institution in your business.

    Contact Us

    We know every student's education at your school is of the utmost importance to you. We'd love to help ensure your websites help, rather than hinder, progress toward your goals.

    You can easily get a quote right now, or just contact School Webmasters (call 888.750.4556 and speak with Jim) to help move your schools forward.

    777575
    Grow Your Student Enrollment through Targeted Extra-Curricular Sections on Your School Website
    Extra-curricular activities

    What are you most proud of at your school? What are your stand-out programs? Does your school offer amazing extracurricular activities that your students especially enjoy?

    I Know About the Sports and Music Programs, But...

    Where I live, there are several high schools within a 15-mile radius. They are all fine schools, and I know that if a student has a special interest in excelling in sports, one or two of the schools might be a better choice for them. Students who are deeply passionate about developing their music or fine arts skills would benefit from a couple of the other high schools.

    music programs

    What About Other Extra Curriculars?

    What I don't know is what extracurricular activities the schools offer.

    None of my children were into school sports, and only one of my kids wanted to continue music after junior high school. But, as many high school students, they had great aspirations to be competitive in the college admissions process, so they needed solid extracurricular activities to help build their resume.

    Self-driven students are constantly on the lookout for good extracurricular activities that will positively impact their college applications.

    volunteer opportunities

    Volunteer Opportunities

    A couple of my kids took advantage of the academic clubs and school clubs that included excellent community service or volunteering opportunities our local high school had to offer as well as other outside organizations such as the Boy Scouts.

    One of my kids pursued other opportunities with competitive teams outside of the high school environment to help build his college application.

    Help Them Build a Strong Portfolio

    A self-driven high schooler who wants to pursue a college degree after high school will scour your school website extra-curricular activities for the unique extracurricular activity that interests them as they work to build a portfolio that will appeal to their colleges of choice.

    What does your school offer? And are those offerings well-represented on your school website? Let's discuss some of the popular activities and more creative activities your school might provide.

    Extracurricular Activities

    Many schools offer similar extracurricular activities. These are popular clubs that offer a high school student camaraderie and belonging or great service opportunities in the local community. Does your school offer some of the following fun and traditional clubs and activities?

    • Art
    • Cooking
    • Dance
    • Drama
    • Foreign Languages and Cultures
    • Future Farmers of America
    • Honors Society
    • Photography
    • Robotics
    • STEM
    Online courses

    Online Courses

    During the worldwide pandemic over the last couple of years, many schools developed online extracurricular activities. Before the pandemic, only an online school offered these online courses, but now, after some trial and error and finding some amazing success, many of these online extracurricular activities are here to stay.

    Students continue to make great impressions on the college admissions committee by learning practical skills and new skills via their school's online extracurricular activities.

    Online Activities for High School Students

    Here are some great examples of fit-to-impress online extracurricular activities for those who want to pursue the college dream.

    • Graphic design
    • Yoga
    • Art
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Improve your writing skills
    • Learn a new language (a native language speaker can improve their skills)
    • Learn a new skill (a musical instrument, calligraphy, beauty tips, cooking, etc.)
    • Learn a new sport (basketball, volleyball, bowling, etc.)

    Demonstrate What Was Learned

    No matter what the extra-curricular activity is when one takes an online course such as one of the above, it's imperative that the courses encourage students to transfer their expertise into a self-driven activity such as the following:

    • Conduct independent research
    • Start your own online business
    • Start your own Youtube channel
    • Write a short play
    • Do volunteer work
    • Self publish blog articles, eBooks, and websites
    • Build your own website
    • Start your own online group
    • Start your own blog page
    • Join online or in-person competitions
    Community service

    Community Service

    Many high schools and colleges have joined the online band wagon and have learned that even online, some amazing service can happen, impressing admissions boards.

    Knowing who your target audience is and a little creative thinking will help you discover what interests other students who have yet to discover what your institution has to offer.

    Be sure to share the online extracurricular activities you offer and how they can benefit those who participate in your programs.

    Website Extra Curricular Online Service

    Here are some online service ideas:

    • Do online community service work
    • Volunteer virtually
    • Mentor a young student virtually
    • Organize a fundraiser for charity

    You're Working Hard to Be Competitive

    You've been in competition with other public, private, and charter schools for years. You've worked diligently to show others the academic programs you've developed. Your curriculum is top-notch, and you're posting your course catalogs for all to see on your website.

    You've made sure you've posted your amazing special education and student services on your website.

    You have a robust college and career department, and all can see how hard you've worked to gather helpful resources for your students. In just one click, students and parents can access scholarship and financial aid information or local college websites.

    Your staff page lists all of your administration, teachers, and support staff members and their contact information. Even your school nurse has a page on your website with helpful information and necessary forms.

    You're using your website well to post quick-access links for your students, their parents, your staff, community members, and other visitors to your website.

    Does Your Website Need More?

    In our experience, most schools do a tremendous job posting necessary information on their school website. But the area of extracurricular activities, and especially online extracurricular activities, are, for the most part, still lacking.

    Too many schools only have one page for their extracurriculars with a short paragraph for each offering. Not super impressive. And not very helpful.

    To be competitive in today's online world, schools must make their presence known. How? Be as specific about your extra programs as you are about your academic program. Be as helpful with your extra programs pages as you are with your student services pages and the rest of your website.

    Let us help!

    Let Us Help

    There must be a balance between giving too much information that will overwhelm your site visitor and giving the right kind or enough information that will entice your audience.

    If it seems a bit overwhelming or you just don't want to add it to your list of daily tasks, leave the entire writing process up to School Webmasters.

    We Have Professional Copy Writers

    Our professional copy writers would love to take the information you supply and turn it into friendly, easy-to-read, informative, and helpful web pages for your website.

    Nobody will know how awesome your school's extracurricular activities are if you don't tell them, so whether we do the work for you or you take it on yourself, setting up a targeted area on your website to provide the information is imperative.

    772980
    What Makes the Best School Websites Work?
    best school website

    The critical goals of any school website are to:

    #1. Engage and inform your existing students, their parents, and your staff 

    #2. Market your strengths and successes to potential students and staff

    To achieve these goals, your school's website must be designed with intuitive navigation and easy-to-find content—and be kept current and informative. 

    Mistakes to avoid

    Mistakes to avoid with your new website:

    1. Don't just copy your old site architecture (navigation) onto your new site. Take this opportunity to create easy-to-use and intuitive navigation.
    2. Don't use all of the old website content. Streamline your website copy. Get rid of the "deadwood." Keep your content friendly and inviting. (Remember, this is a one-on-one conversation between your school and each website visitor.)
    3. Create brand and tone consistency. If you have several people writing your site content, you'll have a variety of writing styles that will detract from your school brand.

    Do it right with ongoing website management:

    The most vital work of a school website is the ongoing upkeep. It might look great when you first get handed a nice-looking and intuitive new site, but what happens a year or two down the road when you've had a variety of people adding, deleting, revising, and reorganizing it? 

    Did those folks making the changes understand best practices for website design or layout? Do they have a good grasp of public relations and how the school website affects your school's reputation and image? Do they know the requirements for maintaining ADA website accessibility and WCAG 2.0 standards? 

    Or, is everyone doing their own thing—or maybe doing nothing because no one has the time to take on these extra tasks? 

    school website design

    Effective school website design & development skills will include:

    • An experienced school website designer whose work experience includes a responsive (mobile-friendly) design.
    • Website development that ensures your website's code is compatible with all browsers and uses a tried and true user interface methodology, and is also ADA compliant with WCAG 2.0 website accessibility standards.
    • A graphic designer who will manage image copyrights, understand accessibility contrast issues, and create an elegant, intuitive, and visually functional site.
    • A professional copywriter who consolidates and organizes your existing content to create an inviting, customer-focused, and informative website with an intuitive navigational structure.
    • A project manager with school website experience to coordinate the whole thing and with the foresight to avoid common issues that can arise.
    website management

    Get an effective school website management service that:

    • Develops a style guide to create accuracy and consistency for all website content.
    • Trains staff who manage all updates, including proofing, quality control, and website accessibility compliance for website content.
    • Provides online training for all staff responsible for creating document attachments since website ADA compliance is required for attachments.
    • Sends reminders and encouragement monthly to your identified staff who provide news, stories, calendar items, photos, and other information to keep the website informative, current, and enjoyable.
    • Makes it easy to submit updates, with no staff training needed.
    • Provides quick response times to requests and information that are then proofed and placed on the website to keep the site intuitive and attractive.
    • Performs quality control regularly to repair broken links, remove old news, fix layout or structural issues, ensure ADA compliance issues, etc.
    • Offers guidance to your staff when changes or enhancements are needed to maintain best practices and keep your site at its best year after year.
    • Thanks and acknowledges staff members who "do it right" to encourage content-generating cheerleaders.

    Yes, we are talking about outsourcing your school's website management. Not just the website's design, which is quite common for most schools, but include the ongoing content updates, proofing, copywriting, graphics, and content additions day in and day out. 

    And, get all of this more affordably than you can keep all these tasks in-house, with experts to do it for you! Contact School Webmasters today and have Jim give you the details at 888.750.4556 or email him at Jim@SchoolWebmasters.com or request a quote and he'll contact you!

    best school website

    For more tips on school website best practices check out these articles:

    3 steps to expert school website management

    13 ways to create an effective school website

    Website management done right

    School website management: it might be time to get some help

    The transformation of school websites from concept to reality

    770217
    Grow Your Enrollment by Integrating Your School Website and Social Media Marketing Strategies
    increase student enrollment

    Why do we cringe when we hear the word "marketing" as it relates to our education services? Maybe because we think of "marketing" as merely "selling" goods and it's not in our nature to push a product onto our friends. (Admit it—you've hidden from your multi-level-marketing-selling friend too.)

    Marketing Campaigns & Student Enrollment Goals

    But when it comes to marketing strategies as they pertain to student recruitment, we're talking about promoting the services we have to offer that will lead to increased enrollment to meet our enrollment goals.

    student enrollment goals

    Whether primary, secondary, or higher education institutions, our goal is to educate students in a world in need of caring, responsible individuals, well-prepared for the future rigors and challenges of the world.

    You Have It All

    You know you have the goods (products) to do it. You have a fine program and amazing teachers. You have witnessed many success stories of past and current students, and you're pumped for the challenge.

    You just need to appeal to that prospective student who will appreciate what you have to offer and improve student enrollment so you can enjoy the fruits of your labors. You need to find (dare we say, recruit, entice, sell—market to) future students and the parents who will make the decisions about where their child will go to school.

    Appeal to Prospective Students to Increase Enrollment

    So, how can we reach potential students? What vehicles should we employ to convey our marketing messages to prospective students? Will one platform give us an advantage over another? And how important is search engine optimization (SEO), really? And what about the all-powerful Google? Is it all it's hyped up to be?

    Is increasing your website traffic going to give you an advantage over another particular school that may be vying for similar, highly sought-after future students? How does increasing your school's visibility online fit into your enrollment strategy?

    Let Me Tell You a Story

    I think I can answer most of these questions with one simple, personal story.

    A few years ago, my daughter-in-law was researching the options for her children’s education. Would she send her children to a public, private, or charter school? Or would she decide to home-school them?

    All the above were viable options, but the one she felt was the least likely, was sending them to one of the local school district’s public elementary schools. She wasn’t happy with the direction she saw the public school system going and was determined to find a better option for her young and growing family.

    time to get serious

    Time to Get Serious

    With a job change and new opportunities, her family, including her then four-year-old son who would be entering kindergarten the following year, began building a home in a new neighborhood. Now it was time to get serious.

    She had already applied and been accepted to a local charter school she felt great about. But she felt she had to be sure, and since she was moving to a new school district, she began a personal quest to research what would be her children’s new school in their new public school district.

    Success Stories

    She reached out to “people who knew people” whose children attended schools in that district as well as those who already had enrolled students in the elementary school her children would attend. She became intrigued as she followed her would-be new school via various social media channels.

    Conversation after conversation, I heard her say things like, “I love that they’re really active on Facebook,” “It seems like they do a lot of fun things,” and “I keep hearing and reading good things about them.”

    The more my daughter-in-law followed them on various social media platforms, and the more she went back and forth from social media to the school's website, the more impressed she was, and the more she wanted to be part of their community—their family.

    By the time their new home was built, she had turned down the charter school acceptance and was ready to register her son for kindergarten in her neighborhood public school.

    The school's social media marketing, the success stories it propagated, and its seamless integration with the school's website was the main factor in her important decision.

    A Testimony for the Whole Process

    Since that year, that family has increased to four little ones. Number three will join other new students in the public school system in the fall, and number four will follow soon after. Now they are valuable word-of-mouth and online marketing (via their own social media posts) advocates for that school and the entire school district.

    The school's very successful integration of social media and school website management was a crucial component that led to increasing enrollment of some ideal students (IMHO) for the foreseeable future.

    improve your school enrollment rates

    Do You Need to Improve Your School Enrollment Rates?

    My daughter-in-law's enrollment journey is not an isolated incident. Thousands of parents are searching for the best fit for their families every day. In your quest to improve enrollment at your school, whether public, charter, or private; whether you have elementary or high school students—or even college students, the principle applies. Leverage technology to increase student enrollment.

    More Parents and Prospective Students are Using Mobile Devices Than Ever Before

    According to Broadband Search, "as of January 2022, mobile has taken the lead at just above 55 percent of the market, with desktop devices taking up to 42 percent." So, since most of social media viewing is done on mobile devices, it stands to reason that schools must be present in the world of social media.

    3 ways to integrate

    3 Easy Ways to Integrate the Two

    There are several simple, organic ways to integrate your social pages with your school website. And as you keep the flow moving between the two, your school will rank higher and higher and be picked up by most search engines, like Google, allowing you to be found and letting the world know what student life could be like for them at your school.

    1. Tell Your Story

    Tell your school's story via your social media platform. It should include your school events, program highlights, and parent and student testimonials. Then link to more information about those events, programs, and testimonials on your school website as well as other helpful content that will shine a light on your best features, guiding more students to you.

    2. Begin the Conversation

    Begin a conversation about topics important to your audience on your social media pages, then link to the corresponding blog articles on your website. This content marketing strategy will help widen the net and attract more people to your website. An active blog page is one of the most valuable tools you can use to help you rank well in organic search results, helping to increase enrollment at your school.

    3. Toot Your Own Horn

    Toot your own hornLet your audience know about your amazing students and staff or the fun you all had at the last football game or field trip.

    Did a teacher receive an award? Post it on your website News page and your social media pages. Then link to the Staff page on your website to tell more about the teacher.

    Tell about student accomplishments and link to more information on the News page of your website.

    Of course, you're proud of your programs, and you want others to know about them. Highlight them, one by one, on the News page and your social platforms, and be sure to link back to the up to date specifics on your website.

    digital marketing

    A Digital Marketing Strategy that Appeals to Prospective and Current Students

    You may not think of an Instagram or Facebook post as "digital marketing," but that's exactly what it is in its most basic form. Prospective students and current students will appreciate your robust online presence. When current students are proud of the school they attend, they share it with their friends, and you reap the benefits of natural (and free) enrollment marketing.

    It's impossible to tell your entire school's story through your social media platform; therefore, your social media must be integrated with and entice your audience to visit your responsive (mobile-friendly) school website. And vice-versa.

    Does This Apply to All Institutions?

    If you're involved in higher education, you may be wondering how to increase college enrollment at your higher ed institution. Does this article apply to you? The answer is Yes! If you're a community college or another higher education institution, the same principals apply. Community colleges and universities are also challenged with recent decreases in undergraduate enrollment. In January 2022, NPR reported that now "more than 1 million fewer students are in college."

    Enrollment at Higher Education Colleges and Universities has Decreased Dramatically

    College enrollment at many colleges is way down! According to the same NPR article, though college enrollment has been decreasing since 2012, the recent pandemic "turbocharged the declines at the undergrad level." Colleges and universities are suffering great losses. Looking to digital marketing efforts via their college website and social pages may aid their efforts to increase college enrollment.

    Higher education, college websites, must also keep up with the online demands of their audiences if they want to increase enrollment.

    Let us do it for you

    If It Seems a Bit Overwhelming, Let Us Do It for You

    When it comes to integrating your school website with your social media, School Webmasters knows the drill. We've been doing it for almost two decades. We're happy to discuss various content marketing strategies or search engine optimization. We have social media gurus available through our Social4Schools services or public relations specialists through PR4Schools to help manage your school website and social media communication channels. Contact us today.

    770200
    An Argument For Pinterest’s Place in Your School Social Media
    Pinterest for schools

    Pinterest has a reputation as a platform women use to plan their next home renovation and learn to make mason jar salads. But hang in here with us for a minute or two as we make an argument for why your school should add Pinterest to your social media platforms.

    If you’re unfamiliar with Pinterest, it’s a “visual discovery engine” where users find inspiration on topics from DIY projects to event planning and, yes, even recipes. In 2021, one of the most popular categories for Pinterest searches was education, with subcategory searches including subjects, education level, applied science, teacher resources, etc.  

    Just the facts please for school Pinterest usage

    Let’s look at a few facts that should appeal to schools from Influencer Marketing’s “31 Mind-Blowing Pinterest Stats for 2022.” 

    • Pinterest has 444 million users.
    • Pinterest is the fourth most popular social media site in the US, outranking LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, and TikTok. 
    • Women are more likely to use Pinterest, and eight of ten moms use Pinterest. 

    Schools should definitely pay attention to that last point because women are more likely to be invested and actively engaged in their child’s education. The study indicates that one reason for the high number of women users is that the platform encourages users to form an emotional bond with Pinterest. Sounds a little weird, right? But a 2020 study of social media platforms looked at intimacy rankings, and Pinterest claimed second place. That means your school has an opportunity to connect emotionally with key stakeholders using Pinterest. So doesn’t it make sense for your school to have a presence there? 

    Best Practices for Pinterest

    best practices for Pinterest

    If your school is new to the world of Pinterest, here are five best practices you should be sure to follow: 

    Link to your Pinterest page from your website’s homepage with a graphic icon. 

    This will let people know they can find you on Pinterest and help drive traffic to your Pinterest page. For example, Region 9 Education Cooperative has all its social buttons listed prominently on its website’s homepage. 

    Link to your school’s website from your Pinterest page. 

    This “backlinking” to and from both pages helps your website with search engine optimization (SEO) and also makes it easy for people to find your school’s website, where they can find out more about who you are. 

    Fill out the profile section. 

    Make sure you highlight the most important features of your school in your school’s profile. This profile is visible to everyone who visits your Pinterest page. 

    Be sure to include where you are located, what type of school you are, and what grades you serve. Leaving this area blank or with a generic line like, “We are a public school,” leaves people with more questions than answers. Gadsden Independent School District is a good example. 

    Brand your Pinterest profile image. 

    Your Pinterest profile picture should be your school or district logo or mascot. The image you use should be the same or similar to what users will find on your website or other social pages. Willcox Unified Schools does an excellent job with this. Branding your school helps people to know they are in the right place. 

    Follow other schools and local businesses. 

    This not only lets you see what type of content others are pinning, but repinning content from other schools and local businesses will encourage them to repin your content. This is helpful if you are trying to spread the word about your school’s latest fundraiser, car wash, or canned food drive. 

    But it’s not just a great platform to reach parents; it’s also a great way to market your school. By following these five best Pinterest practices, your school is also engaging in good marketing. 

    Having a Pinterest presence helps more people find your school. By creating backlinks and optimizing your profile, you’re increasing your reach. And branding and networking are essential to good school marketing! 

    What is Pinterest?

    How to Create School-Centered Pinterest Content

    Next, let’s take that marketing to the next level by following these five ways to create exceptional school Pinterest content:  

    1. Create pinboards that highlight your school. Some examples are: Who We Are, Meet Our Teachers, Our School Facilities, School Events, In The Classroom, etc. Then pin pictures of these items onto each board so people new to your school (or potential students) can get a feel for the environment and what you offer.

      Also, consider including a board for newsletters and messages—you can pin this type of content simply by creating a PDF image of your newsletters and uploading the content to Pinterest.

    2. Create pinboards that are beneficial for families. Including pinboards, like Healthy Lunch Options, Homework Help, Local Attractions, Learning with Technology, and Keep Your Kids Organized, can all provide beneficial information to parents that help strengthen the home-school connection.

      Parents will love that they can get the information on your Pinterest page versus spending time finding pins on their own. Check out Region 9 Education Cooperative’s Pinterest account for some great examples.

    3. Change up the boards periodically with seasonal boards. The way to increase engagement on your Pinterest page is to keep it fresh with content. Stagnant boards are like stagnant bodies of water: they never attract people, only flies.

      For each season, think about what types of information would be helpful for families and children. In winter, create boards about snow activities, DIY holiday projects and crafts, or indoor games and activities.

      For summer, boards that highlight ways kids can keep skills sharp, fun outdoor games and activities, and recipes and meals to grill are all great ways to keep families visiting your Pinterest page.

    4. Change out the cover image on your boards periodically. This makes the board feel “new” and will encourage people to click through to it and see your pins. 

    5. Increase engagement with games and contests. One way to get parents and students to visit your Pinterest page frequently is to occasionally make a game out of it.

      For example, hide a picture of your school mascot on one of your Pinterest boards, and the first 100 people to find it get entered into a drawing for a prize.

      To start the school year off right, post a list of scavenger hunt items on your school’s website, and have them find those images (or answers to questions) on your school’s Pinterest board. Then offer a coupon of some sort (a great way to support local businesses) for people who submit their completed scavenger hunt form. 
    A picture is worth a thousand words

    It’s a fact: people want to consume visual content. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, Pinterest allows you to have millions at your disposal—all without writing much of anything. 

    By harnessing the power of visual content on Pinterest, you can strengthen your school’s brand, provide helpful information to parents, encourage parent and community engagement, and help drive traffic back to your school website. All for free. 

    Not on Pinterest yet? We can help. Call us or visit our website or request a quote for more information on our social media offerings.

    767176
    How to Use Senior Quotes on Your School Website
    How to use senior quotes

    All school districts are looking for ways to make their school websites more relevant. They are designed to be the go-to resource for parents and community members as well as to serve as the primary marketing tool for your school.

    So, let's discuss some fun and unusual ways to increase your website traffic while improving the effectiveness of your school communication and possibly your school enrollment.

    Beyond yearbook quotes

    Beyond yearbook quotes

    Many high schools include a section for senior quotes within the pages of their yearbooks. Those funny yearbook quotes are enjoyed by students and parents. Some senior quotes are profound, others considerably less so and, in retrospect, students regret them 20 years later.

    However, an exceptional senior quote can serve multiple purposes, including for school marketing purposes. Quotes that highlight school spirit, individual student growth, teacher appreciation, successful programs, and educational enthusiasm are tremendous examples to prospective parents looking for the ideal school for their own students.

    Not only are quotes from graduates considered trustworthy, delivered by reliable sources who provide sincere, often heartfelt evidence for the best your school provides, but these quotes are the kind of marketing you can't pay for, so don't overlook them.

    Make good use of those senior quotes each year by repurposing them in your school marketing, to strengthen your school brand, and to improve your online communications.

    But first, help students come up with great senior quotes that you'll be proud to use and with which they'll be able to impress their peers.

    encourage inspired yearbook quotes

    Encourage inspired yearbook quotes

    Senior quotations are a popular way to have them summarize their academic career (so far), thank teachers or peers, and express their individuality. However, this can be a stressful experience for students.

    I remember feeling quite overwhelmed about it, knowing it would be in my yearbook forever and I certainly didn't feel I had anything inspirational to share.

    But, school leaders can provide inspiration, ideas, and examples to those seniors to help eliminate this pressure (while possibly encouraging some higher-quality quotes in the process).

    Here are a few examples to share with seniors that might help. Create a list of possible ideas to get them thinking about what has influenced them so far in their educational experience or made their school experience memorable. Include topics that are smart, inspiring, or funny.

    Possible topics:

    • Thank your parents
    • Honor your friends
    • Share a favorite song lyric or line from a poem that reflects your personality or values
    • Give a shout out to a teacher
    • Share some humor
    • Inspire someone
    • Thank someone who has inspired you

    Consider providing links to sites and articles with memorable quotes used by others. As long as students give credit to whomever they are quoting, that is a perfectly acceptable option.

    Encourage students to be themselves and be sincere. Remind your students that choosing a memorable quote or catchphrase can leave a memorable impression.

    Create a few lists for the students to read and get ideas from. Here are a few of my favorites that I found online with a quick search.

    Inspirational quotes

    Inspirational quotes:

    • How can I sum up my amazing time here in such a short space?
    • When the last bell rings, I might actually miss this place!
    • If you're reading this, future me, put down this book and do something productive.
    • Dear future self, 'Always remember who got you where you are today.'
    • All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.
    • Thanks for all the memories. I've had the time of my life. I'll miss you all.
    • I’ve learned from the bad times and was humbled by the good. Thank you for all of the great life lessons.
    • Thank you, teachers, for never giving up on me.
    • Your future is only as good as the work you put into it.
    • Futures don’t make themselves; you have to create them.
    • Graduation is the first step of the next chapter of your life.
    • Yesterday is what brought you to today.

    Humorous quotes:

    • "Remember to always be yourself, unless you suck. Then pretend to be someone else."
    • "I want to thank Google, Wikipedia, and to whoever invented copy and paste. Thank you."
    • "100 character limit for our senior quote? That seems unfair. We refuse to be constrained by these ru."
    • “See kids? I told you I was sexy in high school.”
    • “When life shuts the door, open it back up. That’s how doors work.”
    • “Master has given Megan a high school diploma, Megan is freeeee!” -Megan
    senior quotes

    How can you use senior quotes on your website?

    We have a few suggestions for how to use some of your best senior quotes, so see what works for you:


    • Create a senior quote page on your high school website.
    • Link to the senior quote page from the enrollment page of your district-level website.
    • Write a new article for your high school website and your district website describing the graduation class or the upcoming graduation festivities, and link it to the senior quote page.
    • Write multiple social media posts about graduation day, the graduates, and scholarships awarded, and include links to the senior quotes page.
    • When you find an exceptional yearbook quote that discusses one of your school's strengths, use it as "proof" to blog about and add it to your enrollment area on your school website.
    • To include more students than just seniors, put “What Do You Think?” forms in high visibility areas of the school (or hand them out in person) with questions that let students give their opinions on various topics of interest. For example, “What do you think about the new ball field?” “What is your favorite cafeteria food?” “Where is your favorite place to shop here in town?” Include student quotes with their name and grade (and possibly their photo) throughout the website or dedicate a page to it titled "What Students Think."
    Marketing done right

    Marketing...done well

    Now that we've given you lots of examples and ways to use quotes, we want to be sure you understand why this matters. It begins with marketing. And not with the sleezy "trying to sell you something you don't need or want" type of marketing either. I'm talking about how using quotes, like reviews or testimonials, can provide a myriad of marketing benefits. Let's discuss a few of those now.

    Branding

    Your school has a brand, or at least it aspires to a particular brand image. But, ideally, the brand you aspire to should actually represent what you are and what you deliver.

    So, if your school aspires for students that achieve inclusivity, what evidence for that can you provide to show evidence of achieving that brand goal?

    If your school produces students who are prepared for college success, does your website and social media demonstrate that proof?

    Maybe your school's goal is to prepare students to be well-rounded, contributing members of society (as, I assume, is the goal of all schools), then you'll provide examples of that every chance you get.

    That is what branding is all about. You are living up to your desired goals and providing evidence of just that. You can use some of these student quotes as evidence that supports your branding goals. Use quotes that support your brand as we've outlined earlier in this article.

    Branding proof may be as simple as showing examples of student life or the values represented in student quotes that are encouraged by the education you provide. It may be the sense of humor your student demonstrates or the inclusivity they feel.

    These senior quotes will help build trust, which will encourage enrollment.

    Loyalty and trust

    By providing proof, in the form of actual quotes and reviews from your students, your school will build trust and confidence that you deliver what you claim to offer. You will share evidence that you do indeed deliver, through your programs and the education your school offers, what you promise.

    Loyalty is what will keep parents talking about and supporting your school to friends and neighbors. It is what creates referral marketing, which is the best kind of marketing there is.

    Trust and loyalty are invaluable forms of marketing. The type of marketing you simply cannot buy. So nurture it.

    testimonials

    Testimonials and reviews

    A student quote, whether it is a senior quote or a yearbook quote, is similar to a testimonial or a review. Because they are provided freely, without payment, they are often more trusted than any other form of advertisement around.

    And, when we know the person providing the testimonial or review, their comments carry even more weight. We trust those we know. Especially when they have nothing to gain by sharing their opinion with us.

    Customer Service

    Another aspect of powerful marketing is the degree of customer service you provide. One aspect of outstanding customer service is recognizing and valuing students and their strengths and value. Imagine the degree of loyalty this provides to your existing parents when their students are publically recognized?

    Make use of social media and website articles to recognize students and their achievements. This should include writing stories about awards, scholarships, athletic accomplishments, volunteer work or service-related work, and other areas of student progress and accomplishment.

    Using student quotes as another way to reinforce your school's values, goals, and the successes related to those goals is just smart marketing and an ideal way to build trust and confidence.

    tools

    Use all the tools

    Senior quotes are only one of the many ways to show off the fun, uniqueness, values, and successes your school has to offer. We hope you will look at this common high school tradition a bit differently moving forward and use these ideas in your public relations and marketing efforts.

    Also, don't forget to apply many of these same methods to testimonials and reviews. We've provided a few more articles on each of these important tools as well, so check out:

    Oh, and don't forget that if you need help with your website or social media, we've got you covered, so reach out to us at School Webmasters and request a quote or call Jim at 888.750.4556. 

    766219
    Use and Misuse of School Announcements on Your School Website

    Every school in America depends on school announcements to communicate with its teachers, parents, and students. Many schools disperse these important messages using daily reminders broadcast to the whole school via a P.A. system or weekly printed reports sent home in Friday folders. Others have opted for higher-tech email blasts or student-led, closed-circuit television "news shows" to share morning announcements and communicate upcoming events. Regardless of how a school chooses to communicate, their goal remains two-fold: to keep families informed and to create community.

    The same should be said of announcements housed on your school website.

    Yet, as a parent of school-aged children (and website copywriter at School Webmasters), I encounter many school websites that don't optimize the announcement section and/or news page of their sites. (And occasionally find a school that doesn't have one at all.) What a missed opportunity! For minimal (and in many cases, no) additional cost, and only a few extra minutes a month, schools could be boosting the effectiveness of their school-to-home communication using a tool they already own.

    A Missed Opportunity

    In education, communication between home and school has always been a challenge. But one of the benefits of modern technology is its ability to connect people with ideas and information regardless of time or distance. That's the purpose of your school website and why each section of that site should be optimized.

    School website

    A school website is the public face of your school. That sounds a little impersonal. But it doesn't have to be. With good copywriting (a.k.a storytelling), your school's personality—all the things that make you special (your "brand")—can shine any time of day or night. A school website is the foundation of your school brand. It represents everything your school is and, like your school, should be a community resource.

    If you've been reading our blog for any length of time, you know that a good school website is:

    • up-to-date;
    • friendly in tone;
    • easy to navigate; and
    • full of useful, discoverable information.
    • (Not to mention responsive and ADA compliant*.)

    *If you're not sure what it means to have a "responsive" website or what it takes to make your website "ADA compliant," we've got you covered! Simply follow the links to read more about these important website features. And if you still need help, let us know. We'd love to share our expertise.

    Expectation Vs. Reality

    The announcement section of your school site should be all those things as well. But for many schools, even those with good websites, this section gets neglected.

    I understand. You're busy. It takes time to maintain an online list of upcoming events—and at school, there's always something upcoming! It takes time to write messages inviting parents to join booster club or schedule a conference. It takes time to post congratulations on classroom achievements or a team victory. When you're doing your best to keep the school registration page updated each year and your lunch menu current, how can you possibly manage daily announcements?

    You can't. But, no one's asking you to either.

    Overwhelming your news page with a daily bulletin is a misuse of that space. (Not to mention a sure-fire way to make your office staff hate you.) Instead, use this online platform to help families feel welcomed and included in your school community. Provide them with the information they need and the resources they want.

    Top 5 School Website Announcement Mistakes

    Top 5 website mistakes

    Most announcement mistakes fall under the same five categories. And while they may require a little planning to fix, in general, these mistakes are easily addressed by keeping the cardinal rules of website design in mind (see "What makes a good website?" above). The top five mistakes I see schools make on their news pages and/or announcement sections are:

    1. Outdated Information. When people visit your school website, what do they find? A clean, friendly platform that's up-to-date and easy to navigate? That level of professionalism inspires trust. It lets a family know that your school values their time and prioritizes their needs over the school's ease. Outdated information does the exact opposite. Your school news page should be the most oft-updated page on your site.
    2. Buried/Hard-to-Find Information. People visiting your school website to learn about an upcoming event or celebrate a students' winning touchdown, want that information to be easily accessible. Information housed on a blind page without multiple, logical access points or announcements buried under a series of link clicks, frustrates your readership. All school announcements should be housed in one place—on your school news page. You're welcome to link to other pages of interest in those announcements, or even include a quick blurb on your homepage that links back to the full story, but don't make site visitors guess at where to find the information they need.
    3. Information. Overwhelm Daily announcements, classroom-specific messages, and the weather report (unless you're talking about the school's winter/emergency weather response) do not belong on your school news page. This type of information, while relevant to some, clutters your announcement feed and overwhelms those visitors looking for information about the bake sale next Tuesday. Eventually, those overwhelmed readers will become frustrated callers taking up the valuable time of your office staff.
    4. Targeting the Wrong Audience. Announcements on your school site are predominately read by parents and invested community members. Those readers are not interested in the math word of the day or who won the "cleanest classroom" award, so don't recycle morning announcements for students on your school site. Instead, use your news page to provide your targeted reader with the information and resources they need to support teachers and students.
    5. All Business—No Play. While it's true that families in your community want to access relevant information quickly and easily, don't be afraid to have a little fun in your announcement space. School isn't just about test scores and literature papers. It's also about discovery, connection, and growth. Make sure your school announcements highlight those themes as well. Celebrate the student council representatives who are spending their Saturday morning collecting donations for a local food pantry and invite other high school students to get involved. Post about the upcoming Teacher of the Year nominations or the science class' successful rocket project. Use your online platform to share announcements but also to tell your school's story.
    tools for success

    Tools for Success

    "Okay, I get it," I hear you say. "We're not using our news page as well as we could be. What now?"

    Or: "Yep, my school has definitely committed one of the top five announcement mistakes. How do we fix it?"

    Or maybe: "I hear what you're saying, but my teachers and staff are overloaded. How can I, as principal (or district web manager or person in charge of parent-and-family communication) ask more of my team?"

    I'll get to that last question later, but as they say, "The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one." Since you're still reading this article, I assume you are ready to begin the process of optimizing the way your school presents announcements to the public. So, first things first.

    Make a Plan

    All good, consistent communication strategies (of which, your school website and announcements are a part) require planning. Just like you wouldn't take a road trip without a destination and pitstops in mind, so you shouldn't attempt to alter the way you handle announcements without considering what you wish to achieve or the steps you'll take to get there.

    But optimizing your school announcements is only one part of an effective communication strategy for schools. If you've not already developed a plan to improve communication between home and school (or believe it's time to reevaluate the effectiveness of your current plan), check out this article about the purpose and attributes of a good communication plan. Then download a free sample communications plan from our PR4Schools initiative.

    One Step at a Time

    All education professionals understand the importance of goal setting. We also understand the power of writing our goals down (lesson plans and IEPs, anyone?). We’ve read countless books and studies on the research behind that phenomena. But did you know that research now suggests goal setting works best when a person focuses on only one goal at a time? A person with one goal often accomplishes that goal ahead of schedule, fueling a motivation to accomplish more. While multi-goal people, who must spread their time and energy across goals, lose effectiveness. They become frustrated and quickly lose motivation (Brown, 2020).

    What does this have to do with announcements? Even if you recognize your need to fix multiple mistakes with your school announcements, focus on one fix at a time. First, commit to cleaning up your news page. Delete all expired announcements and develop a schedule to keep it updated. Then focus on reorganizing your information so it is easy to access. Next, streamline your announcements to target the appropriate audience. And remember to have fun.

    Learn from the Best

    Remember, an excellent news page does more than just give your school a place to house announcements. It also provides a platform for you to share school stories.

    Check out these client examples for inspiration.

    Each of these examples, though different in size and scope, are up-to-date and easy to navigate. They know their audience and streamline content to target that audience. And they do an excellent job of balancing the business of education with the heart of education. That's your goal.

    Seek help

    Seek Help

    In this age of school choice, parents have access to a multitude of educational opportunities. From charter schools to homeschooling, private schools to remote learning opportunities, schools must now compete for students and student dollars. That means, as a principal or school administrator, you have to do more than provide information. You have to think like a CEO and learn to effectively market your school(s).

    If that feels beyond your abilities, School Webmasters would love to help. With an extensive background in public relations and marketing communications, founder Bonnie Leedy and her team of experts create and manage school websites and strategic communications services for schools nationwide. We invite you to learn more about what we do and how we can serve you. Then request a quote. You may be surprised at how affordable our services are.

    Winning Announcements

    It's not hard to create winning announcements for your schools' site. You just have to consider your "customer." School customers are parents, students, teachers (both those already employed in your district and those considering joining your team), and community members involved in your school. Some come to your website looking for answers. Others come seeking proof of how your school can meet their families’ needs.

    Whom do you target? Both—with a mix of announcement types.

    But just as you wouldn't share testing dates over a student-led morning news show expecting every student to take that information home to their parents, so you shouldn't depend on the announcement section of your school website to tell junior high students to wear fun socks on Tuesday of Spirit Week. Junior high students are not your website's main reader. So remember your audience. What kind of announcements do they require? What do they want? Support their needs and they will support your schools.

    Examples of Announcements on Your School Website

    Announcements for Answer Seekers

    What type of information are answer seekers looking for in announcements? Here are a few examples. (Feel free to use these as a springboard for writing your own announcements.)

    • First day of school
    • Testing dates and ways to prepare your student for testing
    • How to schedule a parent-teacher conference
    • Summer school information
    • Upcoming fundraisers
    • How to access student grades

    Announcements for Proof Seekers

    Prove your school has what a proof seeker needs for their family with announcements like these.

    • Celebrate high student math scores
    • Successful class projects
    • Results of high school band competitions
    • Teacher awards and honors
    • Congratulations on sports teams wins
    • Committee interest meetings
    • New course offerings
    Best practices

    Best Practices

    Outdated Information

    If your school news page is frequently bogged down with outdated announcements, set a monthly appointment to delete old messages and update your page with new information. If you don't have new information to include, link to a helpful family resource or event in the area.

    Buried/Hard-to-find Information

    How do you keep an important announcement from the school nurse or principal from getting lost on your newsfeed? First, keep only current information posted on your site, and organize it by date with time-sensitive announcements at the top. Next, remember that not every "new" thing at your school belongs on the news page. Information that will not change throughout the year but still needs to be accessible (like health protocols from the school nurse) should be housed in a more permanent location. You can make an announcement to draw people's attention to that new information, but it's not necessary to keep that announcement on your news page all year.

    Information Overwhelm

    How do you know what announcements to include on your schools' site when you administrate multiple grade levels? Curate your content to a specific audience and keep it organized. If possible, add separate sections to your schools' news page for each level. If there is still too much information to manage, consider adding teacher pages (or team pages like ELA, Art, First Grade, etc.) to your school website. While it may cost to develop these pages, once created, teachers assume all management responsibility. Teacher pages are often used to share course-specific information, publish student work, and announce special events that affect that class.

    Targeting the Wrong Audience

    Consider who uses your website. High school parents aren't interested in what the elementary teachers are doing for field day. Neither are students reading your district's updated education plan. So don't recycle morning announcements for students on your schools' news page. Though it sounds like more work, it's actually easier to target the right audience with fresh content.

    All Business—No Play

    Use your online platform to share announcements, but don't forget to tell your school's stories. Showcase volunteers. Celebrate student achievements. Interview excited teachers. Share your passion for education and get your team involved collecting inspiring stories. You can even ask student council representatives for help.

    Follow these simple tips and soon your news page will be in tip-top shape.

    1 Brown, D. "Why you should double down on one goal." Inc.com. May 19, 2020. Retrieved: March 28,2022. 


    Public Relations for Schools
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    How to Create an Effective Age-Specific School Website and Why It Matters
    age-level websites for schools

    Designing an effective school website for your target audience, parents and students, can be confusing and even stressful. So, let's explore some of the points one should consider in order to find the information that will lead to the website that parents and students will visit often.

    Know your target audience

    First, who is your target audience? And does that audience change from grade level to grade level? And even if it does, how important is it, really, to design a website specific to that audience?

    Elementary Schools

    Elementary Schools

    Elementary schools, with students from kindergarten to sixth grade, have a varied audience. Kindergarten students may not be logging on to your school website from their home computer, but their parents will visit the website frequently—if you've included the information they're seeking. And if you've made the information easy to find. And if you've kept that information current and accurate.

    And by the time that child is in the third through the fifth-grade year, he, along with his parents, will search for information on the school website. Kids that age will use the website to search

    • what's for lunch; and
    • to find links to the teacher's website or helpful education websites.

    Middle Schools

    Now you must take into account that your audience includes computer savvy kids and their parents using your school website to find what they need almost daily.

    They still want to find information such as links to the lunch menu and classroom websites, but now, they also want to find out when the upcoming dance, track meet, or special student activity will take place. In this very social climate, also want to see photos of themselves and their friends (and for parents, their own middle school kids and their friends' middle school kids) enjoying a great experience as they grow and learn at your school.

    There is no clearcut data that says this year is when a child begins to take their education seriously, but experience tells us that as they move toward becoming more independent, responsible educators, such as you, can add to their independent development by providing the right tools that will allow them to build on their growth.

    Giving middle school students an age-specific online home to help further their education is a great start. More about the data later.

    High schools

    High Schools

    During the high school years, your main audience is the students themselves. Many parents are still actively involved in school activities throughout the year, but by this time, many parents should have backed away from diligently monitoring their child's education and should be visiting the school site less often.

    High school students search the school website to find the answers to millions of questions. Yes, they may still want to find that lunch menu, but now they want to find

    • the activities calendar;
    • the athletics schedules;
    • teacher and classroom website information;
    • staff contact information;
    • graduation requirements;
    • college application information;
    • NCAA sports information;
    • what clubs are available and when they meet; and
    • the list goes on.

    Be sure to add lots of great photos. They still want to see pictures of themselves and their friends having fun as they pursue the all-important high school education.

    And one more thing: Be sure your search bar is easy to find and functioning well on your website. Parents and students will use it regularly to find the information they're looking for.

    What does the data tell us?

    Many studies have been conducted, and the data clearly shows that there is a correlation between parent involvement and student success, both academically and socially (see Parent Involvement and Children's Academic and Social Development in Elementary School). Most of the studies involve data regarding parental participation in things such as parent-teacher meetings, helping with homework, and attending school events.

    Reason infers that the best way for parents to find out what's happening and to stay current so they can be appropriately involved in their child's education is by gearing your school website toward their needs.

    What else does the data show?

    The data showing the impact of parent involvement in the later years of school is sorely lacking since it has received much less attention. But do we really need to spend millions of dollars to find out that it makes a difference then too? Of course, it makes a difference. However, the data does clearly show that too much involvement tends to cross the line into "helicopter parenting."

    So, let's talk about that for a moment, only because it's such an interesting topic.

    helicopter parents

    Who are the helicopter parents?

    Helicopter parents in the elementary school years

    The helicopter parents of elementary school students may go to great lengths to make sure their child gets into a certain school or gets a certain teacher. This parent may not only supervise the child's homework but may complete their school work and projects for them.

    Helicopter parents in the middle school years

    The helicopter parents of middle school students might select their child's activities or their best friend for them. Since they believe they know what's best for their child, they will not take into account what their child may prefer.

    Helicopter parents in the high school years

    Helicopter parents of high school students might take on the college or university search, themselves, to find the best school for their child instead of merely supervising the decision or leaving it up to their child. Or they may carefully watch over their child's shoulder when the student applies to colleges. These parents will contact school authorities such as teachers, principals, deans, or university presidents to request extensions of assignments or to find out why the student didn't get accepted to his dream school.

    What does the data say about helicopter parents?

    What does the data say about helicopter parents? What are the pros and cons of this style of parenting?

    For a long time, we have accepted the idea that when parents participate and are involved in their child's education, at home and at school, it is a good thing. Parent involvement is critical to a student's academic success and social and emotional development. The data tells us that parents who are involved foster kids with positive attitudes at school and at home. Active parenting reduces absenteeism and drop-out rates and enhances academic achievement.

    Many studies have produced data that indicates overprotective parents can have negative impacts. A child whose parents involve themselves at developmentally inappropriate levels has been found to have more mental health problems. The data also shows that helicopter parenting can account for the millions of adolescents and young adults who are particularly affected with anxiety, depression, substance abuse issues, fear of failure, low self-esteem, and poor coping skills with day-to-day issues.

    What does the information say about developmentally healthy parenting?

    Watch your child soar and become healthy and happy by allowing them to appropriately experience the difficulties and struggles of everyday life. You may want to do your own search to gain more information about healthy parenting skills during the various stages of life your child experiences.

    Let's building on that

    Let's build on that

    But I digress. This article is about why and how to build an effective age-specific school website. With everything you've read so far, think about the ways your school and your school website can successfully aid in the education (and the appropriate development) of every child who attends your school.

    So, think about your school. What does your target audience look like? Got it? Good.

    Now what?

    With your target audience identified, how do schools build websites that will effectively reach it? How can schools effectively support the millions of students and parents at school and at home who need help navigating through the years they spend diligently seeking a solid education?

    Let's make a list of a few things that must be easy to access as students and parents visit your age-specific website.

    Elementary School Websites

    • The school calendar
    • School news and announcements for upcoming events
    • The lunch menu
    • Staff contact and classroom website information
    • Photos of your school, your students, and school activities
    • A quick links section for specific parent information (be sure to include the parental rights information)

    Your colors, logo, and design will likely be on the younger or more "whimsical" side, as you gear your website to your younger audience.

    Middle School Websites

    • The school calendar
    • School news and announcements for upcoming events
    • The lunch menu
    • Staff contact and classroom website information
    • Photos of your school, your students, and school activities
    • A quick links section for specific parent information (be sure to include the parental rights information)

    As you think about your colors and your logo, you'll want to build a site that appeals to a pre-teen child. This child is growing up but still enjoys the fun and security of being young. Your website design can show a level of maturity without being too mature for their taste.

    High School Websites

    • The school calendars, including activities, sports, clubs, test dates, etc.
    • School news and announcements for upcoming events
    • The lunch menu
    • Staff contact and classroom website information, which includes class assignments and deadlines
    • College and career counseling information
    • Sports, activities, and clubs information
    • Photos of your school, your students, and school activities
    • A quick links section for specific parent information (be sure to include the parental rights information)

    You'll want your colors, logo, and design to appeal to your teenage audience. Make it cool; make it fun; not childish but not too sophisticated (unless that's your target audience, of course).

    In conclusion

    One way schools can add value to millions of homes worldwide is by gearing their websites toward their target audience to support them in the various stages of their lives. When schools select an age-specific website design with age-appropriate content, links, and photos, they support the rights we all value to learn in a safe and appropriate environment.

    And just watch your school reap the rewards when you support parent and student needs at home with your school website.

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