Built hundreds of website and helped countless schools realise their potential online. Ian should be called upon for straight-talking advice and to make a difference to the way you present your school through every outlet.
It's something that is part of every website project we work on but did you know that your school website structure is becoming more and more important?
It has always been the case that you must keep things in order; limiting the amount of menu items, thinking carefully about where content should go and doing all you can to keep your website from becoming unruly.
But things have changed.
No longer is it acceptable that any school website design is cartoony, child-focused and limited in their functionality. School websites must be easy to find, easy to navigate and reflect the audience they're aimed at.
This post is written to provide key advice on structuring your website and includes practical steps you can take to make serious changes to your website quickly.
Absolutely everything on your website must be very easy to find. There is a direct line between users being able to find the content they want and then engaging with the content you want. Let's look at this by your three key audiences.
One of the most important aspects of your school website is it's role in attracting new students to your school. For most age groups that means appealing to parents. Parents are looking for a picture of life in school that portrays safety, care, encouragement and of course an outstanding education.
One of the the ways they'll discover whether that's true about your school or not is by what they see when they visit your website. A few things you can do to make sure that's the impression you're giving? Note that they're most school website structure based;
Your current parents and students are looking for slightly different information because they're already part of your school life. But there are some needs that are more important than others and certain content will take priority over others.
I'm going to stick my head above the parapet a little here; day to day, Ofsted aren't the primary concern when it comes to your website. They're not you're main audience. The two audiences we've read about above are. That said, there's some really important considerations when it comes to structuring your website. It's most definitely worth giving them due thought.
Did you notice that in each of these three sections there's some overlap in the structure of your content? That's because you're in a fantastic position! Your audiences naturally overlap. While they have different emphases on which content is more important the fact that there is a great degree of overlap makes it easier to structure your content.
The content of your website is incredibly powerful. It's so important to make sure you're keeping it up to date. But here's what happens; you're in the middle of a mad week (a normal week!), and you need to put a sentence and a new policy on your website. The easiest thing in the world is to create page, write the text and upload the PDF. Job done.
Except you're creating a problem.
Every time you add content without thinking more strategically about where it should go on your website has a direct impact on your website's usability. There's three simple rules to follow that, granted, will take a little more time, but they're guaranteed to ensure your website content retains it's ease of use.
Just take a bit of time and you'll be more in control of your website, longer term. You rule your content.
One of the worst things that happens all the time in regards to school website structure is that your structure quickly becomes unwieldy. Keep on top of this all year round! For most organisations it's not possible to just have 2 or 3 main menu items but if you're at more than 5 or 6 you're going to run into problems.
Our best advice in this instance, and because you genuinely do have a lot of content that needs to go on your website is to use a variety of menus on your website to provide effective, easy access to critical information without overwhelming users.
Here's a really good example from Astley Park School :
In Part 2 of "How to structure your school website - The Definitive Guide" we'll look at some of the technology you can use to keep on top of your school website structure. We'll also talk about how Multi Academy Trusts can cleverly structure their websites (including their academy sites) to steer users to where they need to be. Finally, we'll provide a range of website structure examples that you can work from practically.
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