How to successfully launch a new school website

There are many reasons you might consider a new school website. You may be looking to increase pupil numbers, reposition your school within the community, increase parental engagement or save time and money.

Whatever your reason, we want to help you make an informed decision when purchasing your next school website.

What do you need to consider for your new school website?

After 10 years of building school websites, we have a few things all schools need to consider when choosing their next school website provider:

  • Get early buy-in from all stakeholders
  • Decide what the purpose of the website is
  • Decide who the website is for
  • Choosing the right provider
  • Create a logical sitemap for your audience
  • Review your content
  • Take the time to review the new website before launching
  • Get trained up
  • Complete a compliance audit - or let us do the work for you
  • Enjoy maintaining your new website!

Get early buy-in from all stakeholders

A new school website requires stakeholder buy-in. Before enquiring about a new website, you need to ensure that this is something that all stakeholders are wanting to explore. You also need to ensure that your team has the capacity to complete a website refresh. We make the process as simple as possible for you, but you will need to do some groundwork in the beginning.

As part of this stage, you also need to agree on a budget so we can match the best package solution for you.

Decide what the purpose of the website is

Your school website should be the hub for your school’s marketing and communications. However, you need to identify what the primary purpose of the site is.

When I speak with schools, I always ask “what is the objective of the site?’, ‘what does it need to achieve for you?’.
Take the time to really think about these questions and prioritise the main objectives.

Decide who the website is for

Alongside the purpose of the website, you also need to decide who the main audience is, this should align with your objectives.

There are 3 main audiences for a school website. There will be other audiences depending on your demographic or objectives. Here is a blog about what your audience is looking for when they visit your School Website, but the main three are:

  • Current parents
  • Prospective parents
  • Ofsted

Your website must be informative and attractive to engage new parents. Your website is the window into school life and you need to represent this on your school website. If you are not at capacity for pupil numbers, this will be your main objective.
You’ll also want to use your school website to increase parental engagement. By having a dedicated area for parents you’ll find that they interact and learn more about what happens in school from your school website.

But it must also be compliant with the Ofsted requirements for school websites. They want to see more about the diversity of your school community, your curriculum information,  your SEND offer, how you spend various types of funding and much more. When approaching the compliance of your school website, it is an opportunity not just to display the facts, but show it in action in your school. By going above and beyond the requirements you will not only achieve compliance but engage your parents too.

Choosing the right provider

As we have mentioned previously, education is unique. And whilst some of the requirements you will have for your website will be the same as any other site (attractive and responsive) it is not enough for your next website provider to just be able to produce an attractive website. Knowledge of requirements for school websites and an understanding of the challenges that schools face is essential.

We previously wrote a blog that explains why you need to choose a school website company that specialises in school websites. A school website provider needs to make life easier for people in schools, develop education-specific features, design with schools in mind and support schools thoroughly. If your website provider is not education-specific they will not be able to stay on top of the latest requirements or needs within education.

To learn more about our website solution, click here.

Create a logical sitemap for your audience

Now you know what the objectives of the site are and who you are aiming the messaging at, you can begin to piece your site map together with the end-user in mind. You can map out your current pages to begin with.

In these blogs we share some helpful advice on how to structure your website:

How to Structure Your School Website - The Definitve Guide Part 1

How to Structure Your School Website - The Definitve Guide Part 2

When mapping out your site, you need to approach this with the end-user in mind, this will be your parents, new parents or Ofsted. You also want to ensure that the content will be easy to access with at least clicks as possible without compromising on long navigation headers. Try to create a logical user journey through your site.

Review your content

In my experience, a lot of schools decide to have a new website because they simply cannot use their current site due to either time or technical knowledge. Usually, the lack of technical knowledge results in tasks taking longer. Therefore, you need to assess your current website content.

  • Is it current and up to date?
  • Is it helping achieve the objectives of the school?
  • Is the statutory documents and information present?

I would also recommend looking at your google analytics to inform which content is being viewed the most. You can then make decisions about whether that content is correct and provide users with the information they need. Or whether you need to refine it. If you are not familiar with google analytics we have a great course for schools - Introduction to Google Analytics for Schools.

We can move your content over as part of the website project so it’s really important to have this right.

Take the time to review the new website before launching

Once you have received your sample site, take the time to review the design, check the links and review the content within the site.

If you do this at the beginning, our website project managers will help refine the site for you.

Get trained up

When your sample site is ready, you’ll be offered access to our training platform, SchudioTV. We have 2 levels of training - essential training and advanced.

Essential Training - The essential training is provided free of charge. When you are ready to go live, you will receive training on how to use the software. This will include “how-to” and some best practice advice to help you run your website and use it as a powerful tool.

Advanced Training - what about once you have got to grips with the basic features and are ready to take your site to the next level? Once the team are confident with the day to day website tasks, it would be good to provide advanced training.

Complete a compliance audit

Before your website is ready to launch, we will complete a compliance audit on your website, so you have the opportunity to make your website as compliant as possible.

Enjoy maintaining your new website!

At the end of the process, your school website will be live and compliant. This means you can proceed with telling the story of your school and celebrating your successes. All whilst engaging with your parents.

To find out more about how we can provide you with an effective, easy to use website, book a call.

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