By Janine Nixon on 20 Feb 2020
Janine Nixon, One Education's Head of Marketing Services, is a qualified marketing professional with over 18 years’ experience working at both a strategic and operational level. She is passionate about the positive impact education can have on children’s lives and has spent the last 13 years working in education.
Janine shares her thoughts about the importance of school websites, how they are benefical and what makes one stand out from the rest.
So many people are dependent on the internet and traditional print media is becoming a thing of the past. Just take a moment and think about how many times this week have you looked at the classified ads in the newspaper, encyclopaedia or reached for the Yellow Pages to find the answer to a question or details of a service you need? If you are like me, the answer would be zero.
“What other programme has that actor been in?” Internet search.
“How do you layer a lasagne? (Bolognese first or white sauce? I never know!) Internet search.
“Primary / Secondary schools in Greater Manchester” Internet search.
When a prospective parent is searching for primary schools, don’t be left out in the cold. Make it as easy for them as possible. A Local Authority will list your school but will it show what makes you unique? Your ethos, happy thriving pupils, dedicated staff and extracurricular activities?
Communication with current parents and carers is also key. If they can easily find information or can be signposted to relevant policies, they are happy and engaged, and so are your office staff (who won’t have to repeat the same thing on endless phone calls).
‘It takes a village to raise a child’ your website is also an opportunity to increase the awareness of your school to the wider community. Enhance pupil learning outcomes and life skills by encouraging community members to get more involved with the school, or inspire local businesses and charities to donate towards your fundraising efforts.
Furthermore, it is essential to remember that ‘every local-authority-maintained school must publish specific information on its website to comply with The School Information (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012’. Ofsted can call at any time, making sure your content is up to date and contains the statutory information will give you reassurance that your website is inspection ready.
Working with schools to support their websites, I have seen such variation in style, quality, and content. But what makes a great website? We asked Alex Ellis, School Spider’s Director:
‘The most important thing about any website is enabling its users to access any information they want quickly and easily, and on any device. Any required or important information, such as admissions or policies, should be easy to navigate to, preferably with just one click. If your user can’t find what they want quickly and easily they will just go elsewhere.
With over 70% of page views of school websites coming from mobile devices not only does your website have to look and work great on a computer but also on a mobile phone. Is your website compatible and responsive on mobile phones?
Photography plays a great part of the user experience, it can really bring a website to life and can give a real flavour of school life and the ethos of the school. If possible have professional photography throughout your website, however you can still achieve some great results with the latest mobile phones. Don’t be scared to play with effects and touch up your images.
Your website should be easy to administer by someone in your school. The best websites have relevant, up to date content; do you really still need that advert for the 2016 Summer Fair? Most websites these days have the ability for someone to login and change website content in real time, just make sure your website is simple and easy to change.
Lastly, never ever pay for small amends to your website these should all be included with your support package for free.’
As the web is becoming the biggest communication platform, and it continues to grow, your school website is the window into your school community. Showing achievements, sharing important information with parents, reaching the wider community.
It’s your opportunity to make a lasting first impression.