What Makes the Best School Websites Work?

best school websites

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. 

school website 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? 

Effective 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.
Effective school 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

Posted by Bonnie Leedy, CEO, School Webmasters, LLC.