Did you realised that there is a direct line between making it incredibly easy for your users to find what they want and pushing them towards the content you want them to read?
Here's our top school website tips to get more users actively engaged in using your website.
1) Create a term dates page visitors can read
On many school websites, the term dates page is viewed as much as four (that's 4) times as much as any other page. So this is your first port of call. Create a term dates page that has a list of the dates for the coming two years if possible. Add a pdf file to download and print if you like, but that's a back-up. Don't just add a file that users can download. It's frustrating and makes arguably the most important page on your site hard to use, especially on smartphones.
2) Promote events effectively
This is something that pops up time and time again and it's easy to see why. A really good school website software package will automatically remove events from the front of your website when the date has passed. The only issue with that is that you need to make sure there's always events. The best way to do this is to spend a little time during the holidays (!?) or at the beginning of the school year adding in your events for the year.
It might take a little bit of time but it sets you up to follow up your events with news content right through the year ...
3) Follow up events with news articles
A brilliant school website software package will notify your website manager when an event has passed and prompt them to write a news article about it. (In case you were wondering, the Schudio School Website Software does this ).
Write up to 300 words and simply tell the story of what just happened in school. Get into the habit of doing this regularly. It's the single most important thing you can do for a brilliant school website.
4) Share your news & events socially
Once you've written a great piece celebrating the most recent successes of your incredible students, share it far and wide! Use the power of social media to share you events and news articles. Use keywords creatively but most importantly, tag relevant contacts to encourage further sharing and use great photos. More people engage if you add a good photo to your posts.
5) Use photos, not clipart or icons
This is a conversation we're still having because clipart is quick and easy to find. Forgetting to take a photo is a mistake you could really do with avoiding. A great photo will encourage more people to read your content and even encourage them to share your content more widely.
6) Provide a variety of ways for visitors to engage you
A vital part of any relevant website is the means for your users to 'engage' with you. What does that even mean? It's simply the opportunity for someone to get in touch with you, to contact you, a right of reply that makes them feel part of your community.
So how do you achieve that through your school website?
Here's a few quick things to make sure you've got in place:
- Contact Information - obvious I know but provide the means for people to actually contact you. It's an Ofsted requirement so you have to do it anyway, but making it really easy for people to contact you simply makes them feel more engaged.
- Blog Comments - if you're using blogs and your software allows it, start to accept comments. Good school website software will allow you to approve comments before they go live, which is always a good idea! But don't be afraid to let parents have a voice.
- Social Engagement - have everything in place to enable parents etc to be able to reach you through preferred social media channels. Always have a policy which parents have signed up to so expectations are managed effectively, but don't be afraid to go down this route either.
7) Change your website outlook
This is one of the most important things you can do on your school website and my favourite tip right now (I can't see it changing anytime soon!).
You don't need to plan a long campaign of news articles and blog posts, you simply need to get into the mindset of publishing the stories of life in your school regularly.
Once your 'statutory' content and all the things that don't need updating are in place, focusing on the day to day things that are going on in school, celebrating them and sharing them effectively will have a huge impact on how you use your website. It will also have a huge impact on how others use your website.
If your school website software makes this frustrating, it might be time to think about a change. But you should be able to add a decent news article in a matter of minutes.