Survey Your Users Before Your Next School Website Redesign
The effectiveness of your school’s website is more important than ever before. It is the overarching platform from which all of your school communications and public relations strategies rely. Done right, not only will your school’s first impression be exceptional, but it can help you engage parents, while building trust and support for your school. It will also improve your ongoing customer service and school branding efforts.
When it is time for your school website redesign, don’t think of it as a fresh coat of paint, but as an opportunity to clean house and strengthen the foundation at the same time. How do you do that when you don’t have the staff, the time, or the money for such a comprehensive undertaking? Here’s how:
- Survey your audiences (see sample questions below).
- Select a school website provider (and/or hosting service) that will meet your needs.
- Define the primary communications and marketing goals for each of your websites.
- Consider the overall design and the navigational structure to assure that it is intuitive and simple and that it also supports your site goals and meets your audience needs.
- Develop content and update management strategies that will meet your goals. Review these goals annually.
- Train your staff on the importance and best practices of customer service and school marketing.
- Develop and require the use of a style guide for content and a branding guide to maintain consistent design and colors throughout your site (if you are keeping your website updates and management in-house, that is). If your website provider will manage your site, confirm that they have these processes and training in place with their staff.
- Implement staff training for ADA website compliance for both the CMS updates and training for all documents that will be posted to your site as attachments.
So, as mentioned above, your first step, before your next school website redesign, should be to create your own website survey targeting your parents, students, staff, and community members. This information will help you develop a more effective school site that will better meet the needs of your various audiences.
There are a few steps you will want to consider to make sure your new school website is as effective, intuitive, and informative as possible. It should go beyond design and be more than a new paint job. Consider the following:
- Select and revise the questions that are most relevant to your school needs.
- Create an online survey using the tool of your choice (e.g., Survey Monkey, Google Forms, others).
- Distribute your survey via all your communications sources like social media, e-mail, newsletters, and the website.
- Print off some copies to keep in the office for parents who might come in.
- Select a deadline and post it along with your survey.
- Collect, analyze, and then share the results with your website management team.
Use this information to let respondents know how you used their input to improve the website and better meet their needs. Those who responded will appreciate knowing that their comments were valuable and that they were heard. It will also help them appreciate the new website even more. It can be a great public relations and communications article for your website, social media, and the local media as well!
Sample school website survey questions
- Is the district (or main office) website easy to locate? (Yes / No)
- How often do you visit the district website (daily, several times a week, once a week, several times a month, once a month, less than once a month, several times a year, never)
- How often do you visit the school websites? (Select one) – same areas as previous question
- When visiting the district/school website, what info are you typically seeking? (Select all that apply) district/school news, student information system (e.g. Powerschool, eSchoolPlus, etc.), PTA, school notifications (delays, closings, etc.), staff directory, lunch menu, calendar, BOE agendas or minutes, athletics schedules or info, extracurricular information, other (please describe)
- How would you rate the “ease of use” of the website? (very easy to use, easy to use, neutral, difficult to use, very difficult to use)
- Does the website navigation make sense to you? (Yes / No)
- Did you experience any problems downloading files? ( Yes / No / I didn’t try)
- What are the areas you visit more frequently on this site? (You can use examples like: news, calendar, enrollment forms, job postings, staff contacts, board meeting information, athletics information, school policies, attendance information, online forms, student information system, and then include an area for “Other (please specify)” along with a text field
- From which sources do you receive most school information (select one) district/school website, e-mail, school newsletter, teachers/staff, word of mouth, telephone, parent notifications, social media, PTA, local media, no information received, other (please describe)
- Which topics would you like to hear more about? (select all that apply) testing, curriculum, assessments, counseling, technology, volunteering, athletics, extracurricular, safety/security, transportation, meals/nutrition, budget, school culture, health and wellness, character education, instruction & supervision, etc.
- How informed are you about the activities and events that happen at school? (select one) very informed, informed enough, somewhat informed, not informed
- What is it about the website that you would most like to see improved?
- What changes or additional features would you suggest for our website?
- Do you follow our school on social media? (Yes / No)
- If so, what social media platforms do you use most? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest)
- How satisfied are you with your experience on our district website? (very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, neutral, somewhat dissatisfied, very dissatisfied)
- How do you typically access the school website? phone, tablet, desktop/laptop computer
We invite you to use these examples to create your own school-specific survey/questionnaire. You can’t meet your audience needs if you don’t know what they want. Good luck and let us know if we can help!